By their very nature, convenience stores try to be lean. Their customers pull product and services, and management attempts to minimize waste. Yet, there is still so much waste. For example, inventories can be bloated, loss prevention is weak and expensive, back offices do not eliminate redundancies of work, and so many companies still crunch their numbers on Excel spreadsheets…as stated in one of the posted articles, 88% of all spreadsheets have errors in them. On top of that, so much work never gets done or is not captured, and expenses like travel and out of pocket are astronomical. Look at how many managers simply claim to be too busy to get all of the work done in their typical day.
Those companies that are truly lean do a good job developing efficient, productive procedures that eliminate waste and identify what the customer wants to buy. Just ask Chick-Fil-A. This means, they do not create hours of additional work, they do not require redundant work, their managers are on the floor, and they audit activity to understand where the weaknesses are.
When EProcess started, we were a video and dashboard company. Gradually, we added in POS, and a place to see all the exceptions to investigate loss. The problem, as we saw it and as our customers experienced, was that those initial advances also added to work loads if the users did not understand how to use them. Even now, surveillance companies offer great features, but nobody really knows how to structure the configuration to make them efficient. It can be so very wasteful. Was there really value in stopping loss if other expenses increased? No! So companies often choose to be wasteful and to permit loss just so they do not have to create more work.
This lead us to structure ourselves as a lean company. We realized these traditional approaches were wasteful and time-consuming. Once we mastered that for ourselves, we were able to implement solutions to help our clients move towards being lean. In convenience stores, that meant we had to think about fixing the inefficient, broken processes; do something with the exception once it was identified so it could be tracked and managed; and cut out much of the enormous expense associated with travel and out of pocket.
In answer to the question above, we believe that convenience stores have a lot of potential to be leaner, and to impact their bottom lines in positive ways that would not have been imaginable just a few years ago. Look at the inefficient, broken processes, the redundancies in work and information, and the rewards to employees who milk the system, and a convenience store can move towards successfully being leaner with payback periods of 2 to 10 days per month.