The World's Unsexiest Business
adding a little sizzle to the convenience store industry
In some instances, I will refer to the people that work for you as team members while in other instances, they'll be your staff and CSRs. As for the precise nomenclature:
Staff / Team Members / Your People: any office or store level employee
CSR: store level customer service representative (employee)
While the above interaction may be slightly exaggerated, it's by no means far fetched. After all, your CSRs are human and can have bad days. You certainly cannot control their temperament nor should you feel the need to do so. But what you can largely influence is the environment of your (and equally their) workplace -- creating and then nurturing open communication and hopefully even (God forbid!) camaraderie. The skeptics might say there's no time for this frivolity or that the development of these 'softer' initiatives pave the way to an incessant stream of rants ultimately leading to possible workplace discontent. To which I'll retort with a reference to Walt Doyle's (CEO of GasBuddy) take on what I'll refer to as the a harsh reality for the Retail 1.0 crowd. (That being the generation of retail entrepreneurs that refuse to embrace digital marketing/communication/lifestyle. By the way, we're currently somewhere around the 4.5 release.)
You no longer own your brand
It's a tricky and contentious issue. More 'in your face' and definitely less 'thought provoking'. And sometimes it seems like all we want to do is cautiously prod it with the jagged stick of statistics. But with 42.7 million Americans (nearly 1 in every 12) receiving food stamps, it's not an issue we can merely turn a blind eye to.
Alternatively for some unwarranted harsh opinions, you can always turn to Twitter:
Pointing the finger at any one particular political party doesn't solve the problem.
The genesis of the issue? Too many different origin points.
So instead of focusing on the crisscrossing dimensions of a pro-active solution perhaps it can be tackled re-actively. But it's reform driven by economic and political policy versus social and psychology based ones. The latter is open to so much more interpretation and therefore can be more easily downplayed and manipulated with data mined statistics.
A good starting place is to consider the kind of assertions that are being made of low income consumers and EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) users:
Let's face it, there are no shortage of headwinds that this growing segment of our population has to face: scarcity of time, money, mental health deterioration, resources, and perhaps even a lack of their wealthier counterpart's compassion. While it may seem that the rich might not pay their fair share of taxes, the poorer have found ways to relatively evade theirs -- sometimes with the cooperation of their 'richer' employers.
In a recent round-table discussion with some local business owners, it was rather unsurprisingly revealed that employees were 'wage' tender gaming -- seeking to cap their 'taxable' check wages while requesting that any additional wages due to be paid 'under the table'. It's a practice that benefits both parties highlighting the huge disconnect between real world economics and government labor law derived ones. To be honest, in assessing its value (or even detraction), I'm not sure where the economist begins and the legislator ends. Or vice versa?
Let's throw a real example out there.
Suppose you're a hardworking couple that works respective full-time minimum wage jobs and you've also got a toddler to raise. But that toddler needs special medical attention that has resulted in some significant out of pocket spending because your combined income is just too high. A further examination of this situation conducted by The Urban Institute can be found here. One very key takeaway can be found below:
Let's forget about Jeff Bezos for a minute. And then totally erase from your mind his now realized vision of creating the ultimate online one stop shop for everything imaginable. Then to really give the convenience store industry a shakeup (while perhaps even raising the middle finger to it), he decided to stick his nose in brick and mortar and the deluge of negativity came raining down. John Dvorak's overall negative impression might be a little too one-sided.
Throw in a dash of Alibaba founder Jack Ma and a sprinkle of Flipkart's founders Binny and Sachin Bansal and you have the entire online retailing spectrum covered on a global scale. But while you were too busy focusing on these online retail influencers (or even their massive accumulation of market share and then wealth), you may have forgotten about the vision behind that branded (dare I even refer to, and somewhat agree with it being a "symbol of class status") beverage you're currently sipping. Or just pretend for a moment that you cheated on your in-house super premium java. Speaking of which, from an observation perspective occurring at the last three NACS shows, I've seen brands such as Farmer Bros (in 2015 was faced with having to shift its California operations out of state) and Canadian based Van Houtte spend fewer dollars on their booth build-outs and marketing while small to mid-sized US based distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers alongside longstanding Italian ones have directed more dollars to beefing up their trade-show presence.
Among one of the more noteworthy coffee brands seen on the 2016 trade-show floor from a packaging, taste, and vision standpoint was La Colombe.
Back to that beverage you're sipping...
I'm just hoping you didn't order a Unicorn Frappuccino and then proceed to gloat over your conquest of the poor barista that was subjected to your wrath.