Take Geo. H. Green Oil in Fairburn, Ga., for instance. Last month, GreenOil’s Director of Marketing Jim Callahan launched achain-wide sting operation to see how employees weredoing selling age-restricted products, specifically, alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets.The chain fared well onalcohol and tobacco, grading at 95.8% compliant, orcompliance at 23 of 24 stores. On lottery, compliancedropped to 85%.
I figured Callahan would tell me he was pleased, buthad some things to work on with the sales team. Instead,he seemed rather disappointed. “Do you want to knowwhen 95.8% is a failing grade?” he said. “When you’redealing with alcohol and tobacco. You simply cannotfail. Anything less than 100% is unacceptable.”
On the lottery, an area much of the industry doesn’trun internal stings on, Callahan vowed to be even morevigilant. “The reason no one focuses on lottery stings isthat the state isn’t going to sting itself,” he said. “In fact,some parents promote the lottery to minors by allowing their 7-year-olds to scratch off lottery tickets right inthe store. That’s how gambling starts and we as retailershave an obligation to prevent that from happening.”
Anyone who has spoken to Callahan understandsthere is not a hint of hyperbole in his statement. He trulycares about the customers he serves and his employees.Like many other chains, Green Oil has a zero tolerancepolicy for clerks that get “stung,” a policy that was reinforced after an employee was nabbed in a real sting atone of the company’s travel centers seven years ago.She was arrested, fined and lost her job, somethingCallahan described as extremely upsetting for everyone in the organization.
So now when clerks pass a company sting they areawarded a modest cash prize and a certificate honoring them for their diligence. A failed sting results inno bonus, a suspension from work, a reprimand in theemployee’s permanent HR file and mandatory compliance training.
“If you are going to be a good company, you can’t beselling certain things to minors,” Callahan said. “This isn’tjust about being a responsible retailer, it’s about protecting the kids.”
And that statement is second part of this story thatmakes Callahan and Green Oil so special.
Accompanying Callahan on the stings were four displaced brothers and sisters ranging in age from 16 to 23that lost their home and virtually all of their worldly possessions in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Callahan met their mother in Atlanta shortly after thestorm hit trying to find a place for her and her kids tolive. Unfortunately, she was the victim of heartless swindlers and given a phony housing voucher essentiallyrendering her and her children homeless once againin Atlanta. That’s when Green Oil sprung into action. Thecompany quickly raised more than $5,000 to find thefamily shelter and put food on the table.
This generosity allowed the family, which had beentorn apart as a result of the chaos that followed Katrina,to be reunited in a secure home with a roof over theirheads. It was the beginning of a long-term friendship.Nearly two years later, the four brothers and sisters spent12 hours over two days touring Green Oil’s conveniencestores with Callahan for the purpose of ensuring thecompany is a responsible retailer. Knowing a little bitabout how the company operates, I’d take exceptionwith anyone that hinted otherwise.
The power 25
In our ongoing effort to highlight the outstandingwork done by companies and individuals in the convenience store and petroleum industry, CSD next monthwill unveil the Convenience Store Decisions‘ Power 25.The Power 25 recognizes industry pioneers, association executives and lawmakers that shape the way theconvenience store industry operates. These influentialbusiness leaders are being selected for the lasting contributions they have made to the convenience channeland the impact their influence has on shaping thefuture of convenience retailing.
The list ranges from leading retailers that have guidedcompanies to national prominence and the suppliersand wholesalers the keep their stores stocked with newand innovative products to government officials that areconstantly introducing legislation that affects the waygoods and services are sold at retail. There is still time tovote for The Power 25. Visit CSDecisions.com for details.