Turnover in the Alcohol Service and Sales Industry and What You Can Do About It

In the alcohol service and sales industry, turnover can seem like a never-ending battle. You spend time (and money) to hire and train, and then before you know it, your employee(s) put in their two weeks -if they even do that. What gives? Why does turnover happen in the first place, is it always a bad thing, and what can you do about it? Turns out there can be a wide variety of reasons for high turnover - not all of them bad - and there are many things you as an owner/operator can do to both keep it to a minimum, hold onto your people, and grow your staff and your business.

The Current State of Affairs
According to a report based on several industry publications, by HR firm Daily Pay, the turnover rate in the overall retail industry in 2018 was 60%. The National Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS), in its 2019 NACS State of the Industry Summit, released numbers for the convenience store sector at a whopping 118%. Unbelievably, this was down from 133% in 2016. Like the C-store sector, the hotel/motel sector is notoriously high, also traditionally above 100%. The reason for high turnover in the food and alcohol industry is due to several factors. A competitive landscape (there are often many different restaurants and stores for employees to choose from in an area, so they can shop around to see which one fits them the best), non-traditional scheduling (swing shifts, evenings and weekends, graveyard shifts, etc. - not a 9 to 5 job, basically), low wages, and lack of investment in the employee. If you couple those industry-wide factors with possible poor conditions at an establishment (bad management, unhealthy workplace treatment, or lack of mobility) they make for a hard landscape in which to recruit and retain workers.

Why Employees Leave
Employee turnover has a cost. Some HR organizations estimate that it can be anywhere from 15%-100% of an employee’s annual salary. Costs go up for management and executive positions or critical staff, an example of this is you know you can’t operate without a security team. They need to have a special skill set and training, so it might cost a little more or take a little longer to fill these critical roles - but you need to fill them, or your business could suffer. Additionally, it takes an average of about a month to fill a position (again, it depends on the type of position and other factors). Some employees leave a business for negative reasons. If you have employees leaving your business due to poor management, harassment or discrimination, lack of morale, or other systemic problems, you need to fix that situation - bottom line. These problems can cause much more than just high turnover and could lead to lawsuits and civil judgments if you’re not careful.

On the flip side, many employees also leave to retire, have a baby, or utilize a newly acquired degree. IN an effort to stop the leak of high turnover, some successful companies have adopted company policies that, for example, allow retirees to come back on a volunteer or part time basis, provide maternity leave or sabbaticals for new parents, and allow folks to utilize their education, if possible - working for you! For example, if an employee just attained their accounting certificate, maybe they can (and should) apply for that open position in accounts payable. Many top C-store operations are also implementing childcare programs and bonuses for sticking around and referring other employees to come join the team.

What the New Workforce Wants
Younger generations from Millennials to Gen Z-ers, (which together make up a full third of the American workforce, and the number is probably twice that in the alcohol industry) are placing far more of a premium on things like work-life balance, social responsibility, ethical business practices and non-judgmental, inclusive workplace cultures. Additionally, young folks are very aware of the need for training to acquire new skills, also known as “future-proofing”, and being able to advance within a company. If there are no career paths - or at a minimum, room to grow - at their current company, they’ll leave. Many millennials want the same thing as their grandparents and great-grandparents wanted - to have a steady job that they feel good about and are respected at, to buy a house, to have a family. The essentials of American life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Examples of What Works
A number of our clients among the Top 25 Convenience Stores in the U.S. have adopted employee-centric cultures and policies to not only improve retention, but to drive profitability through enhanced customer satisfaction as a result. Start with Onboarding & Orientation. If everyone is trained on the same guidelines, you can set a baseline of what’s OK and what’s not - and go from there to other topics you want your staff to master, such as discrimination training, hazard awareness, to more advanced topics like allergen awareness, guest experience training, and management training. Learning and Development (L&D) should follow. Learning new things (and then being able to apply them) grows your staff and business from the inside out. To align with practical application training, many of the top C-Store operations also have enlightened policies with regard to tuition reimbursement, keeping employees on the books if they are returning to school or need to switch from full-time to part-time, and developing clear, attainable career tracks from store-level positions to corporate, as well as opportunities for folks to apply for positions between different regions and locations. When an employee feels like their employer cares about their well-being and their future (and is willing to invest in them) they’re more likely to come and stay. Programs like these have not only dramatically decreased turnover well below the industry average, these C-store companies are now ranked among the top places to work in the U.S. and regularly rank at or near the top in customer service satisfaction surveys.

So, What Can You Do About It? Put Together A Program.
Come up with a game plan. Start simple and you can build on the foundation.

1. RAMP Training - Get a training provider that will make sure your alcohol personnel are trained and current. If they’re caught out of compliance it spells trouble for them and your business.
2. Create Onboarding and Orientation Training- Work with your managers to set up rigorous Onboarding training programs and implement for all new hires.
3. Get RAMP Certified - Read “The Benefits of RAMP Certification” for why this is a win-win scenario.
4. Learning & Development - Create internal tech-based industry training programs, tuition reimbursement programs, and sabbaticals for folks who need to leave (but want to return) due to school.
5. Promotion and Career Tracks - Make sure you give employees the ability to rise from within the ranks. Put promotional tracks and actions needed to achieve promotions on paper and make sure staff know what they are.
6. Recruitment & Retention Incentives - You can get creative with this, as much as your budget allows. A day off on their birthdays (or other special day) to show you actually care about staff (and can remember their birthday!). Referral bonuses, time-off rewards based on tenure and/or excellent performance/attendance are just two examples of incentivizing employees to work hard and stick around.

Let’s be real. We’re not going to totally stop turnover - in any industry. It’s a fact of life and a fact of the American economy. People move, have babies, retire, and continue on their journey. But there are a great many things you can do to slow down the revolving door. First, make sure you have an establishment that is - simply - a nice place to work. Treat your employees with respect and care and invest in their future. It’s inefficient to keep replacing folks who in some cases, you can keep if you take a few extra steps. Sometimes it’s as easy as recognizing great workers for being awesome or giving an employee a few minutes to listen to a problem and give advice. The biggest thing you can do is train your staff - both for the here and now, and for the future. The more you grow your employees, the more they’ll want to grow your business, and everyone will flourish.

If you have any questions at all concerning RAMP Certification or RAMP Server/Seller Training, we’re here to make your life (and your business) worry-free. We’re currently offering a FREE 15-minute telephone consultation with our Compliance Expert, in which you can talk about anything and everything RAMP-related and get solid business advice. No Strings Attached. You can grab this opportunity just by clicking here and reserving a calendar spot, or fill out the form below to have us call you directly. Either way is fine - and it’s up to you!

RAMPtraining.com is the largest and most widely used online RAMP Server/Seller training provider in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with over 75,000 people trained. Our team collectively has over 25 years of regulatory compliance training experience and 95% of our users pass the RAMP course on the first attempt. We’re experts in the industry and we’re here to help you and your business succeed.

Contact Us for Your FREE RAMP Compliance Consultation Sources: