Surprising Results of the C-Store Managment Method of Accountability

Accountability works, is needed and is expected in almost every situation – work, athletics, academics, relationships; you name it. Nonetheless, it often feels bad when encountered. Well at least when it is encountered as a ‘teaching’ or ‘coaching’ moment. The problem, however, is not that feedback for negative performance is often done incorrectly. Getting help for bad performance even when done well is still not a situation that most of us want to experience each day.  Let’s face it, who wants to report that they are failing and seek help?

The surprising part of accountability is that because we focus on this only fearful aspect of the process, we miss all the positive aspects. Things  like hitting a goal, closing a tasks, gaining trust, getting great results, finishing early,… etc. are all part of accountability as well. We enjoy them and we experience them often yet, we forget they are part of the overall accountability process.

Maybe it’s our ego that thinks that we would always perform well regardless of standards, deadlines, process and clarity. Regardless of the reason, it is important for leaders, managers and, anyone else that wants to achieve, to understand that those great things can only happen when accountability is in place.  You either need to hire those employees with a tendency to hold themselves accountable or put process or systems that will enforce it.  Either way, to enjoy the benefits of accountability it has to be used.  If the tasks and goals are realistic then the entire process will be enjoyed by all, including those being held accountable.

Esko Hannula, makes a simple point in his article – What I learnt by tracking my time. Esko writes in his Lesson 3: [I need the feeling of accomplishment. I believe most human beings need regularly the feeling of accomplishing something. I realized I can create those feelings for myself by planning my work so that each chunk of work I plan to do has a proper “definition of done”, no matter how small. In reality I may not have accomplished anything more but still the feeling of achieving my “definition of done” energizes much more than the feeling of “having progressed a b]it”.]  Great accounting systems will have clear objectives that have deadlines and measurable results. These results are planned so that hitting them leads to the achievement of a larger vision that is comprised of the process, team and systems that have measurable steps along the way.

Most respond well to positive feedback. Perhaps a simple method to put great accountability into effect is just the regular notice, praise or recognition for a job well done. A great boss will probably do this all the time. All of us can be the boss of our actions and break our work into daily (or even hourly) objectives that provide the stress of completion but also the satisfaction of getting it done. An important thing to observe is that if you are modeling your C-Store after one of the greats in the industry, it is likely that you would find with little investigation that methods of accountability are in place.

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Passport C-Store Clients Have a New Business Intelligence Option

Anyone with Gilbarco’s, Passport® Version 10.N or higher, now has the ability to quickly start using analytic reports to improve store performance and grow their businesses. This is not to say that reading your transaction data as it comes out of the register will tell you exactly what you want to know, for it does require a little analysis and presentation to have it all make sense. This is just one more area where Quik Data, software built just for C-Stores, differentiates itself.

Using the bundled 3rd Party Data Interface that is available with Version 10.N and higher of Passport®, BandyWorks is giving any C-Store Operator the ability to use business intelligence strategies by providing analysis on their transaction or unit level data. With their recent launch of their Quik Data Passport® Processor, clients can successfully participate in the Cigarette Scan Data Rebate programs, deliver daily scorecards showing store performance grades and collect a detailed UPC analysis data mart. BandyWorks expanded Quik Data’s capability where it can now provide analysis in both the Back Office System, and Passport® v10.N and higher Point of Sales systems. For those companies with both back office and Passport ® v10.N or higher systems, it will work with both systems simultaneously to ensure you can capitalize on all of the data you have available.

WHAT QUIK DATA CAN DO WITH YOUR SCAN DATA:
1. Automate Scan Data Report for Cigarette Manufacturers Scan Data Rebates
2. Optimize your store offerings
3. Minimize your inventory expense
4. Identify hot products
5. Identify dead products
6. Track and compare current performance to historical performance
7. Identify and minimize loss
8. Project future sales
9. Set Annual budgets
10. Track all shift duties by Store
11. Roll Individual Store Data Views up to Company Totals

BandyWorks is the leader in Business Intelligence for C-Stores. It is the only commercial business intelligence product built exclusively for C-Stores. Their clients are capitalizing on their data by using it to drive store performance, manage and grow their businesses with more ease. Tom Bandy, CEO of BandyWorks states, “We are very pleased that we have found a way to provide value to companies without back office systems. When it comes to using analytics to drive their business, companies using Passport® v.10.N or higher can now start at similar spots on the playing field as their larger competitors.

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Is Business Intelligence Too Complicated for Small C-Store Operators?

 

Some argue that you have to have hundreds of stores to afford the staff and expertise needed benefit from business intelligence. Processing, organizing, analyzing and sharing the insights takes time, money and resources that are just too costly for small operators. With all the challenges of running a store the management is just too busy keeping the doors open to divert attention and resources from the main operations.  However, it is a shame to miss the opportunity as C-stores have such a wealth of information every day.  What you will can learn about your business while evaluating your data will often surprise you.  It helps you realize and face your problems head-on for in business, little else can speak the truth better than numbers.

In thinking about the importance of business intelligence, consider the value of accurately knowing the answers to theses fundamental questions about your business (as well as how the answers are trending):
1. Are you getting more customers?
2. How many purchases were made?
3. Which items were sold?
4. Are you selling more or less each time?
5. Is the store losing money to theft?

Most operators are already dealing with parts of business intelligence. Typically, each operator has some simple check list or spreadsheet to make sure the deposits match and inventory is not missing. This simple approach is one that works and provides value every day. If such a simple and high return approach could be applied to all of the detailed data that you have, just imagine the impact you might realize in your overall C-Store performance.

While it may take a few tries to find the value, the very process of studying the data will most likely yield useful results. If you prove that your results are optimal you get the satisfaction of recognizing good work in action. If you find ways to improve you get the benefit of extra profits or more time handed back to you. Learning about your business from the objective view of your performance data will provide insights that will lead to improvements.

Many times we fail to learn and improve with new technology due to fear or inertia. Here are some simple things you can try to start your journey. Rather than debate about the value or the difficulty of using Business Intelligence, we recommend a different question: Why not start today? The worst thing that will happen is that you will waste a little time trying to learn something new about your business. Here are a few ideas that may have value even if you do not start a business intelligence program:

Image encouraging C-Store Operators to get started with Business Intelligence learning

1. Talk to your current vendors on their next visit and see what data is available.  

2. Find an existing report that addresses some area that you think can be improved. 

3. Have lunch with a store manager and ask her what she thinks would help.

4. Search on line for C-Store performance and management ideas

 5. Talk to other owners and operators to see what they do

                                                              6. Sit in a webinar – many provide them for free

The main thing is to get started . Tackle what seems to be an  elephant a little at a time.  Do a little bit and you will find yourself able to measure the results.  You might be amazed at what knowledge you will gain to make your job easier and your P&L Statement better each month.

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The 3 C’s That Define the Power of the Check List

We have been to and talked with C-Stores who use checklists.  They have duty lists in the stores, IT backup lists in the IT departments, people have to do lists on their desks and there are probably many more we haven’t seen.  These are usually tasks that need to get done and what their managers are being judged by to determine departmental or store performance. So what is it about these small pieces of paper or small desktop files that make them so powerful?

Let’s face it, no one has time for water cooler conversations anymore at work.  The lists are larger, more complex where they are sometimes broken down into sub tasks to be completed.  Tasks can come by emails, notes at meetings, phone calls, etc.  When putting all of the tasks down on a list using a simple title, in the order of importance, it becomes an easy to use guide that allows them to simplify the mass and take that proverbial one bite at a time.  It creates order to what could otherwise be overwhelming.

COMPREHENSIVE

When looking at the list on a daily basis, you are much less likely to forget a task or overlook a subtask in a complex project because it is there staring right at you every time you look at it.  It is very easy to see that all things get completed and if not, what is left to be done.  Managers providing heavy workloads know it is important to provide a magnitude of importance definition to the task so the employee knows what order to tackle things or where to put it on the list.  That way their most critical tasks are completed first where if there is fall out at the end of the week it won’t be so critical to move it to the next time period or list.

CONFIDENCE

By completing the list one gains the feeling of accomplishment and therefore their confidence increases.  The confidence their employer has in them increases as well   They will know when they may add more tasks to be done by a particular employee because their list is completed by Thursday.  They can see where they may need to coach should lists be falling short each week.

COMPLETION

Because of the natural order of things, people are built to want to succeed.  When given a list they are more likely to complete it because after all, it is their list and  they are clearly defined as being accountable to the completion of their list.  Now this is not to say that things will not pop up where sometimes the order of importance will change or that things will be added to everyone’s list throughout the week, but by adding it to that one piece of paper with a place to put a checkmark gives it a lot better chance of getting done.

I am not sure what it is about a checkmark that gives one so much satisfaction but no one ever complains about them. Perhaps it is the design of it with a little down and a lot of upstroke in the lines where it subliminally suggest the positive, or that they are used to mark of completed tasks showing accomplishment. It could be that it is just one less thing to do.  All I know is that when I am given a list of tasks to do, I just love to make those check marks.

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