The Convenience Group values the communities it serves, naming stores after neighborhoods and getting to know customers. But the road to employees treating customers warmly starts with the company treating employees well. The Convenience Group has strengthened its labor strategy by offering referral bonuses, hosting events and encouraging open communication.

“We had a referral program that benefited not only the employee that referred the individual, but the individual got the referral bonus as well,” says Jeff Larson, HR lead and accountant at The Convenience Group, which operates eight c-stores. “That really helped out with increasing our application numbers.”

Though it has paused since COVID, the company connects with its staff through bowling nights, where each store takes a lane, and the winner brings home the trophy until the next game.

Communication, Larson says, is what provides the company opportunity for improvement. At every meeting, the mic is passed to each employee, no matter their status. The chance to point out a challenge and talk through it improves the job and the company itself.

The leadership team also meets with new employees twice in their first month on the job. They ask which parts of the job they like or not, and if they are comfortable with the expectations.

“It’s not always us telling them what to do,” says Larson. “We want to hear from them. How can we make your job better? How can we improve as a company?”