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3 Things We Learned Working with Convenience Store Managers

No matter what your role or industry, you probably use some kind of software at work. At CB4, we’re no different. And like you, we’ve used our share of great and terrible software, and learned a lot from it. The most important thing that we learned—great software companies understand their audience and build their software from the ground up for the people who will be using it.

While we’re partnered with some of the biggest names in retail across the grocery, department, specialty, big box, and drugstore verticals, we began in the convenience store space, and it’s there that we have the most customers. Over the years, we’ve met with hundreds of store managers to better understand their role, their pain points, and how our software can best assist them.

In this article, we’ll cover three critical things we’ve learned from working with convenience store managers that drove our product development to where it is today.


Convenience Store Managers are Constantly Multitasking

In c-stores, speed and execution are everything. Every minute spent on a task is a minute not spent on another. That’s why convenience store managers are the busiest multitaskers in the industry.

From serving customers to checking deliveries to scheduling shifts, convenience store managers have a wide range of responsibilities and are accountable for day-to-day execution. They don’t have time for a software company giving them long and time-consuming lists to check off.

“Whenever upper management tells us we’re bringing in a new software or task management system, we groan. There always seems to be a disconnect between what helps us save time and what makes it harder to do our jobs.” —Store Manager

This is why, when building out CB4’s technology, we focused not just on solving in-store operational issues but solving only those issues that most affect customer experience. We use machine learning to identify the individual SKUs in each store that customers love most, and only send recommendations for those items. This allows us to make a huge impact with only a few recommendations a week, freeing up the store manager’s time and focusing their effort.


They’re Afraid that Software Will Make Them Look Bad

Because they’re constantly multitasking, the best convenience store managers don’t have a lot of time to put into each area, and that includes floor execution. Any employee who has ever completed a store walk with a district manager knows how anxiety-inducing they can be. Expectations are not aligned, because upper management’s expectations feel unrealistic.

As such, the store managers we spoke with were worried that new software could make them look bad. It’s easy to see how they can often perceive business intelligence tools, inventory management systems, and other software to be “big brother” brought in to rat them out.

We begin with this assumption: no matter how vigilant you and your store managers are, no store is perfect and there are dozens of in-store operational issues impacting sales at your stores. From there, it’s a matter of finding and uncovering these issues. When we deploy recommendations, we ask the store managers for their help, their expertise, and their attention to detail, and give them credit for being the experts that they are. We make it fun for them through gamification. When we send reports to management, it’s not ‘look how bad your store managers are,’ it’s ‘look how awesome your store managers are.’

“CB4 is like a treasure hunt—it’s fun like that. Every time we get our recommendations, we head out to the floor to find the issues. Each time we uncover one, it’s like hearing a cash register—‘cha-ching!’” —Store Manager

CB4 gives you more reasons to celebrate the hard work of your store managers, show you how many issues they’ve resolved, and how much they’re adding to the bottom line. We have learned that for software to be successful with c-store manager, it has to support them and provide positive reinforcement.


Overachievers Affect Every Area of the Business

There’s no way around it—for every overachieving employee, there’s a happy one simply performing at baseline. This is true in any industry. At c-stores, it’s impossible to hire an entire chain of overachievers, and some team members are difficult to motivate.

When an exceptional convenience store manager executes with CB4 in their stores, it’s pretty obvious. You’ll see 100% task completion, recommendations executed on the day they’re delivered, and higher ROI for those stores.

But what about those who aren’t? How can baseline employees perform more like outstanding ones? In creating CB4, transforming average performers into go-getters was our mission. Here are some ways we did that.

  • CB4 is Fun to Use

We use gamification to motivate store managers to open the app and find issues. Every time they complete a task, an inspiring message appears on the screen. Store managers can earn stars and ribbons that add up over time by executing tasks, and management can reward the top stores.

  • CB4 is Simple to Use

CB4’s Store Manager View is a simple list of tasks that need to be completed. Store managers usually receive about ten tasks, which can take 8-15 minutes depending on the size of the store. The store manager clicks the task, finds the item in the store, fixes the issue, and checks the box with the issue they found.

  • CB4 Should be Easy to Onboard

It usually takes just one session for a store manager to be up and running with CB4. We take a train the trainer approach, and our customer success associates come to your store and show you how to use the app. Employees who learn directly from CB4, then train the rest of the store staff. In total, it takes 1-2 days to onboard an entire chain.

Whether CB4 is successful is in the numbers. Across our client base, we see a 95% compliance rate among store managers. In a recent in-app survey we conducted, 78% of store managers reported enjoying using the app. Every store manager who uses CB4 is driving revenue by fixing important issues in their stores while gaining deeper insight into which items their local customers love most. At the end of the day, store manager who use CB4 have a better understanding of their own customers, their own store, and the tasks they need to complete to provide the greatest ROI.

These are just three of the dozens of things we’ve learned about convenience store managers in the last few years, but they’re three important discoveries that fuel our innovation. As we continue to learn and grow, our software will keep evolving, and we will continue to make serving store managers a top priority.


Learn how CB4 helps store managers improve floor execution and capture lost sales through machine learning.

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