These days, everyone is looking for new answers to old questions.
Here are a few of the questions and concerns that are currently weighing on my mind:
1. Everyone is looking for the best possible employees. Twenty years ago, all you had to do was place an ad in the classified Help Wanted section of your local newspaper and the interviews came rolling in. While today, we have places like Indeed.com and Monster.com, they target a higher level of employee: management, accountants, etc. Websites like Craigslist.com bring a more unusual and unpredictable level of employee. The pursuit of a website for cashier-type employees would be welcome.
2. Profit margins are becoming more of an issue than ever before. Monopolies in the beer and cigarette categories are the reason for this issue. Legislative ideas should be on the table for these types of concerns. While it seems like a good idea to be the lowest price in the area, we are stabbing each other in the back, instead of making all of us more profits. It seems like every time the big cigarette and beer companies visit, we get price increases that bring our margins down. Our margins are getting so low that we need to be pushing high volumes just to pay the bills. Soon, we will just be warehousing products for the large companies who sell them. This needs to change. We need to push back!
3. We need to learn about more efficient ways to reduce waste and theft by purchasing the best state-of-the-art surveillance system at a lower cost. This could result in less customer theft and eliminate the opportunity for employees to steal. The use of new technology can be a great tool. Surveillance systems can be purchased at a lower cost and allow for live viewing from your phone, and video records to the cloud. I believe employees should be aware that managers and owners can monitor their activities right from their living room any time of day. It keeps them on their toes and makes them think twice about making a poor decision.
4. I believe vendors should be more responsible in identifying outdated product, especially in the cooler. The reps are only accountable during times of company audits. It’s time we have some conversations about accountability at all times; not just when their boss is monitoring their route.
5. The health department is becoming more of a challenge. Agents are being sent out with little on-the-job training. One agent wants things done one way and another wants it differently, making it harder and more costly to comply with the current regulations.
6. Fuel contracts can seem complex and leave you thinking you need a team of lawyers to interpret. It’s important to understand what your fuel volume is and know where you stand in level of importance with the fuel company, as well as the jobber. Fuel companies will shell out quite a lot of cash when it comes time to sign a new contract, so make sure you are well-educated on the market and that you are speaking with the most aggressive fuel company in order to get the most bang for your buck.
7. Regulation is another time-consuming and costly challenge. It seems more frequent changes to existing regulations and the addition of new policies make business more complicated. Change is good, but also costly. It’s important to identify which changes are an actual necessity for your business — this means, which changes are going to make you more money. I am hoping with the new "tax breaks," we are all able to update our storefronts, equipment, software, and are able to compete more effectively with the big companies. The new leadership in the White House is proving to have a positive impact on my businesses. I hope it is doing the same for you!
Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.