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The labor pool is shrinking. Unemployment is low, businesses are growing, more students are going on to college, and another baby boomer retires every nine seconds. One study predicts that from 2017 to 2027, the nation faces a shortage of 8.2 million workers, the most substantial shortfall in at least 50 years. There are very few industries that aren’t in the midst of – or at least on the verge of – a labor crisis, and businesses such as convenience stores are really feeling the pinch.

The best strategy to overcome your staffing challenges is actually a combination of three separate strategies: implement creative recruiting, hire employees for potential, and train to retain.

Implement Creative Recruiting

Gone are the days when a sign in the window will lead to an influx of potential candidates. You have to think outside the “help wanted” box. Here are a few ideas:

  • If you don’t offer an incentive for employees who refer people for open positions, start one. If you do offer one, but it’s not producing results, re-think it.
  • Keep a list of employees who leave on good terms with you, and use it as a recruitment tool. The grass isn’t always greener at the next job, and these boomerang employees may jump at the opportunity to come back.
  • Develop an internship program. Focus on interns who want to learn about business principles such as merchandising, supply chain, loss prevention, and logistics.
  • Sell yourself. Offering higher pay isn’t the only way to attract new employees. What else do you have to offer that other employers don’t?
  • Get involved where your employees live. Many business owners and managers tend to focus their community service efforts in their immediate area, but it could help your recruitment efforts to fill needs where your employees live, not just where your customers live.

Hire Right

When you’re faced with a labor crisis, it’s tempting to hire any warm body that can fill out an application. This might fill a spot in the short-term, but it won’t solve your problem in the long-term. Follow these tips to interview and hire applicants who have a better chance of sticking around:

  • Prepare for the interview. The time you spend up front will save you more time later.
  • Treat applicants like customers. Model your customer service philosophy throughout your interviewing process.
  • Ask questions that reveal an applicant’s fit for your operation. Give applicants scenarios that might really happen in the position they’re applying for and see how they respond.
  • Focus on attitude over experience. Skills can be taught, but you can’t change an employee’s personality.
  • Be honest and realistic. Tout the benefits of working at your store, but don’t oversell it.

Train to Retain

Training reduces turnover. Be sure your ongoing training program is focused on retaining quality employees from their very first day. Include these five training approaches.

  • Orientation training: Set new employees up for success.
  • On-the-Job training: Blend online training with opportunities for employees to practice what they’ve learned.
  • Career progression training: Use your learning management system to create custom advancement paths.
  • Refresher training: Protect your business, employees, and customers with refresher courses on compliance and safety issues.
  • Training through leadership: You are the most effective training tool in your store. Lead by example.

Convenience Store Training

Our convenience store training curriculum improves employee retention and helps you fight the labor crisis. Browse our comprehensive learning library just for convenience stores.