The changing landscape of Convenience stores in South Africa

I am thoroughly enjoying the changing landscape of our convenience stores! It is like a breath of fresh air! New store designs, new product ranges – all hopefully showing improved profitability for all our stakeholders.

The effects of the JV’s, new supplier agreements and internal franchisor structures are all showing at store level. Exciting stuff!
BUT and here is the nub of it going forward. In the past two blogs I have looked at the coffee offerings out there in the market place – the same bean, the same expensive machinery, – with differing and conflicting offers to the customer. It is the PEOPLE that make it succeed or fail…..

Our staff, are the people that our customers interact with, and we have a dearth of good skills to choose from. More importantly as our sales have increased so too our dependence on not only good staff – but good managers! Many of you have been on one of my many training courses over the past 15 years or so – and training and skills development is one of my passions.

On my recent training courses over the past year or so, I am coming across fewer and fewer good management material. If we have poor managers – we have no hope of getting our staffing right!
I am not sure why this is so. I know many will tell me it is the BEE legislation that is restricting us in selecting good management material. But I know this is incorrect and too trite an answer. My last training programme had few if any previously disadvantaged representation which in itself was highly unusual – and they were generally shocking in performance and understanding of tasks. It is always easy to blame external factors – harder to look at ourselves and how we are to blame.
There are two extensions of this challenge. The one is the selection of staff at the coal face. The other is the impact on the shopping experience. Yes the stores look great in many cases but the shopping experience itself is boring as all hell. No music. Where are the welcoming faces? You ask for a particular product – just get a shrug of the shoulder if you are lucky! Even managers which you see hustling from one task to the other don’t seem to care. They have this blank look on their faces – please don’t interrupt me complete my current very important task! I had occasion this last week to see a very disorientated customer ask a cashier if they stocked a particular product – she shook her head and said she would ask her supervisor.
The supervisor turned out to be in the paypoint kiosk at the time – she did not even raise her head or look at the customer asking the question. She just indicated in her body language that they did not have the product in question. BUT they did – and I showed the gentleman where it was on the shelves and promptly lost my place in a very extensive queue!

And there are good people out there – I know. The fish rots at the head – and I spend most of time challenging you on staff selection at grass roots level. But it starts with us – you and I. And the level of selection just below us! Get that right and we might, just might, improve the level of service experienced by our customers at grass roots level! It starts and ends with us……
Take care out there!

Jocelyn Daly

A word from Max, social and website editor: We have many good downloads on http://www.cstores.co.za/ to assist with the managment of your c-stores! They will not be free forever! I have seen some of the information that Ms Jocelyn Daly gives out for free being sold for R2 000.00!

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