CHICAGO — In the 2019 program, two brands scored 100% on employees in the revealed audit: QuikTrip and ExtraMile.
ExtraMile Convenience Stores LLC is a joint venture between Chevron Corp. and Jacksons Food Stores, Meridian, Idaho. For the purposes of the 2019 program, about 75% of the stores shopped were company-ops run by Chevron, an ExtraMile franchisee, and the other 25% were operated by other franchisees. (No Jacksons sites were included.)
Alice Flesher, general manager of Chevron’s company-operated stores, says the ExtraMile franchise emphasizes employee empowerment to satisfy customers. “A customer service rep has every right to take care of a problem on-site; they don’t need to take that up to anyone,” she says.
In one recent example, an elderly customer was feeling unwell, so an ExtraMile employee kept him company for about an hour until he felt better. The customer was so appreciative he returned the next day with flowers.
“It’s stuff like that where it’s going that extra mile—literally—providing care for the individuals who come in,” Flesher says.
In the revealed audit, QuikTrip and ExtraMile scored 100% on employees.
Here's a look at how four other retailers are getting the most out of their employees ...
Rutter’s Adds a Layer
Rutter’s, York, Pa., winner of the 2017 and 2018 program, nearly tied for second this year thanks in part to its excellent customer service. To keep store employees engaged as its store footprint and foodservice emphasis expands, the chain recently added assistant managers to most of its sites.
“When there’s 50 people, it’s really a bit too much for just the store manager and a restaurant manager, so we have a layer between there of multiple people on all shifts, which are our assistant managers,” says CEO Scott Hartman. “You’ve got people who can talk to you, train you, teach you well and be consistent because they’re there every day and try to reduce that turnover.”
True North Takes Action
In its two years as a participant in the program, True North Energy, Brecksville, Ohio, has placed well. The company is a joint venture between Shell Oil Co. and True North Holdings; it has 100 company-operated locations and about 200 dealer sites in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. In 2018, it ranked among the top five brands for the revealed audit and mystery shop. In 2019, it placed even better, clinching second place in the mystery shop and fourth in the revealed audit. That improvement reflects a concerted effort by True North to improve, specifically in customer service.
“We took those results last year and [said], ‘OK, let’s make some really actionable plans on this,’ ” says Ryan Howard, chief operating officer. The team developed TrueGX, or True Guest Experience, a program aimed at elevating the entire customer interaction by studying the best practices of brands such as Disney and Chick-fil-A.
“It goes from greeting people when they come in the door—not when they come up to the cash register—and making sure that we’re thanking them in a sincere way,” says Howard, emphasizing that the interaction is not scripted. “We want people to be sincere, but making sure that we are being friendlier to our guests.”
Maverik Teams Up
Maverik, which had the second-highest promoter score among the retail brands in the 2019 program, beefed up its employee incentives with the “Team Climb” bonus in 2018. Each store team is rewarded for hitting sales and gallon growth targets.
“It reinforces the idea that the entire team is ‘in this together’ and builds even stronger camaraderie amongst the team,” says Danielle Mattiussi, vice president of retail operations for Maverik Inc., Salt Lake City, which has more than 320 sites in 11 states. This team-building approach is key to Maverik’s “legendary customer service,” she says.
“Our leaders are committed to building teams that care about one another and our customers,” Mattiussi says. “Employees are committed to ensuring customers have a great experience and leave smiling. This is the differentiator.”
The Enmarket Advantage
Enmarket scored above average in the mystery shop on courteous, happy-to-serve cashiers who make customers feel valued. This reflects the chain’s emphasis on customer service from the very first interview with job candidates, says Libby Bates, vice president of operations for the Savannah, Ga.-based chain, which has nearly 90 sites.
“We’re all doing the same basic thing in our industry: selling gas and convenience products,” Bates says. “Customer service is a big differentiator, so we treat it with the utmost importance with all employees. We expect the office staff to be great customer service agents to our stores, just like we expect the stores to treat our guests with first-class service.”