Even with an admirable employee turnover rate of 64%, Steve Seymour is dissatisfied with the state of labor in his stores. “It’s good, not good enough for me,” he says. “I could use another 50 employees right now.”
As director of personnel training and development at Country Fair c-stores, Seymour has thrown a lot of recruiting strategies at the wall, with varying levels of success, and often they’re difficult to qualify. “We didn’t do one thing; it’s 100 little things” that have allowed the chain of 72 stores in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio to be manned at a better than average rate.
“We’ve gotten into the technology side of HR, and sometimes I fear it makes us complacent.
There have been wage hikes, changes to store hours, technology adoptions, development of an employee-referral program and offering free meals during a shift. But the improvement Seymour calls out is decidedly old-school.
“We brought in an intern from the local university,” he says. “And what that intern does is watch our applicant tracking system. As soon as a new application comes across, he reaches out and calls the applicant. Not text, not email, he actually calls the person on the phone.” Seymour calls it “people interaction.”
“We’ve gotten into the technology side of HR, and sometimes I fear it makes us complacent. … This is still a people business,” he says. “Our company motto is ‘Country Fair Cares.’ … As long as we look at everything through that lens, we’re going to be OK.”