As the number of nationwide COVID-19 cases has waxed and waned, convenience-store foodservice sales have been at the mercy of shifts in consumer behavior and local standards for safety. With broadening vaccine distribution indicating brighter days ahead and with more consumers resuming their normal commutes to work, c-store retailers have an impetus to elevate and optimize their foodservice programs—and preparing their employees to offer great service is a crucial first step.
FiveStar, a family-owned convenience-store chain with 80 locations in Kentucky, Southern Indiana and Tennessee, is known for keeping high standards for quality and customer service. Seeing the importance of keeping their staffs equipped to offer the best possible service amid the changing landscape, the retailer implemented mobile training and development solutions that changed the game in terms of the efficiency and efficacy of their training.
Keep reading to learn how top training strategies support a successful c-store foodservice program—and how FiveStar integrated these strategies into their operations.
Thorough training helps foodservice thrive
Efficient, thorough training for c-store foodservice employees is more important than ever, especially as standards for safe service and sanitation continue to shift.
Self-service amenities, in particular, are a key segment for retailers to focus on. Technomic’s Q4 2020 C-Store Monitor finds that many top retailers are focusing investment strategies on legacy foodservice categories, such as dispensed beverages, roller grills and grab-and-go snacks. Self-serve amenities, however, require a distinct level of employee care to ensure both cleanliness and efficiency.
Consumers are keeping an eye on how retailers are handling their foodservice operations, too. According to Technomic’s Q4 2020 C-Store Consumer Marketbrief, 33% of consumers who say they purchased c-store foodservice more frequently in the last month cite seeing a clean food preparation area as a factor that drives them to purchase, and 32% cite food that looks and tastes fresh as a sales driver, too.
An uptick in fuel customer conversion also adds to the importance of converting shoppers in the store. According to Technomic’s Q4 2020 Marketbrief, paying for fuel is the No. 1 reason consumers are entering c-stores. Because many consumers are entering the store for a reason other than to purchase food, offering a noticeably clean foodservice area and great-looking food is key to converting these shoppers.
In short, keeping operations running smoothly behind the scenes, as well as making foodservice look appealing and clean, is key to making a sale once a prospective buyer walks through the door.
Mobile learning keeps c-store staff prepared
Beyond in-store operations, c-stores need to be ready to pivot to accommodate how consumers want to shop and what they want to purchase. Off-premise sales, including drive-thru service, curbside pickup and delivery, are increasingly popular ways to offer an added level of convenience and afford a greater sense of safety for health-conscious consumers. According to Technomic’s Q4 2020 Marketbrief, the No. 1 reason consumers say they’ve been purchasing c-store foodservice less is because they’re preparing more food and beverages at home instead. By delivering to consumers’ homes and offices or offering quick solutions on the go, retailers can position themselves to recoup some of these sales.
Additionally, Technomic’s Q4 2020 Marketbrief recommends offering seasonal items and LTOs to drive excitement for c-store foodservice and encourage consumers who have decreased their purchase frequency to explore new menu items and resume shopping c-store foodservice more frequently.
Altering and expanding options by offering off-premise service and adding new menu items, however, shouldn’t come at the cost of stretching already-busy c-store staffs thin. Mobile learning platforms, such as the solutions offered by PlayerLync, can be a gamechanger in terms of keeping operations up-to-date with consumer demands without sacrificing efficiency. PlayerLync’s Mobile Training & Development software replaces time-consuming back-office training with succinct videos and interactive content to make training quick and effective and to help employees feel confident, even amid changing operations.
Improving the employee experience
Indeed, staying attentive to consumer demands is only part of the equation for c-store success: Supporting and educating foodservice employees is key, too. Just as c-store employees need to be prepared to offer efficient service, they must also feel equally equipped to protect their health and the health of other employees and shoppers.
According to Technomic’s 2019 Hiring and Retention Strategies report, 25% of foodservice employees report that they are not satisfied with how communication from corporate is conducted or with the incentives and recognition they receive on the job—and amid the pandemic, timely, clear communication is more crucial than ever. As COVID-19 has taken a toll on retailers’ workforces and as augmented health protocols have added to the scope of standard training, minimizing employee turnover—and the costs associated with acquiring new hires—is even more important.
Meredith Goodin, human resources for FiveStar, understands the importance of effective communication and employee training during uncertain times. In a recent PlayerLync press release, she was quoted saying, “We’ve grown as a company and have seen the need to change our approach. PlayerLync will assist getting messages out consistently and engage all types of employees. With ages ranging from 16 to 77 years, PlayerLync will provide the training and operational support employees want.”
“With PlayerLync, we are able to utilize videos with our eLearning courses, an initiative we have wanted to implement for some time,” she continued. “We are excited about our partnership with PlayerLync and the possibilities they will provide for our organization.”
Mobile training solutions from PlayerLync support c-store retailers and their foodservice employees at every step: from hiring; to ongoing training; to communication between corporate leaders, managers and hourly employees. In seeking ways to recoup c-store foodservice sales lost to the pandemic, supporting an efficient team of prepared employees is paramount.
To learn more about how PlayerLync can help retailers expand and enhance their foodservice programs and more, visit www.playerlync.com
This post is sponsored by PlayerLync