C-Store Training: It’s a Process, Not an Event

In December of 2013 an OSHA training deadline passed requiring employees coming into contact with chemicals to be trained on the new Hazcom standards. You, as a conscientious c-store operator selling fuel, dutifully trained all of your employees. (If this is a requirement you missed, click here for more information.)

Now, some months later, how many new employees have you hired? Did you make Hazcom training a part of your onboarding process, or do you have a number of employees showing up every day not in compliance with an OSHA mandate?

Training is not like installing a fixture that will give you decades of service. It’s more like a lawn that needs to be constantly tended.

And yet, it’s common for businesses to conduct a class to meet some particular need, put a check in a box, and never give it a second thought.

But as the Hazcom example illustrates, your workforce is dynamic, and you have to design your training to function in a way that recognizes the constant change.

A rotating workforce is not the only reason your training needs to be systematic.

Left to their own devices, employees are going to perform their roles in a way that is most convenient to them. That is not necessarily the way that is best for your business. It takes effort to greet customers and keep the store clean, and it takes constant reminders from either managers or a training program to keep such things happening.

Ongoing training doesn’t have to be nagging. Listen to pro golfers and you will hear that even the best ones never stop working on the fundamentals. It’s easy to get into a routine and forget the fundamentals of c-store operations- things like smiling to customers and making selling suggestions. One part of your training program should be about brining people back to the basics, perhaps sometimes with a twist or refinement that your associates may have missed the first time through.

Besides the fundamentals, there are ongoing changes that employees should be trained on. New products, initiatives, and new ways of doing things all require instructing people in their new duties. Don’t leave to chance that everyone will get the message, because many won’t and many who do will get it garbled.

Training can also be a way to form a better relationship with your employees. View it not as a requirement that has to be powered through, but as an opportunity to speak directly to those most responsible for the success of your business. It’s easy for employees stationed out in the stores to feel isolated from the central office. Use your regular training program to keep that from happening.

The best organizations in the world realize that constantly training their employees is one of the qualities that sets them apart. Don’t stop training your people once they’re on board. Constantly communicate to them the knowledge and values that run your stores and you will build a stronger and more valuable business.

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