Finding Balance

Whether it’s maneuvering the fine line between hard work and spending enough quality time with the wife and kids or walking home after one too many at the local pub, finding the right balance is the crucial difference separating success from a split lip. In his poignant memoir, “From Smart to Lucky: Leadership Lessons from QuikTrip,” Chester Cadieux tells the story of how the Tulsa, Okla.-based chain evolved from its early days as a single-store operator with a financial war chest of $16,000—barely enough for a tank load of fuel at one of its mammoth stores today—to one of the most revered chains across all retail segments.
In one anecdote, Cadieux explains how QuikTrip arrived at the unique spelling of its brand name. It wasn’t about being different or making some grandiose social statement. It was about balance, a professional trait that would guide the company to unforeseeable success.
“We proudly incorporated on May 19, 1958, originally naming the business Quick-Trip,” Cadieux writes. “Sam Karney, the art director at the sign company, suggested the signage would be more balanced if it had four letters on each side. Thus, we dropped the “c” and became Quik-Trip.”
The hyphen, Cadieux continued, was dropped years later and “the intentional misspelling of ‘quick’ remains the bane of English teachers everywhere.”
Classrooms aside, Cadieux offers wonderful insight into the leadership skills and decision making that has made QuikTrip one of the most powerful companies in this industry. “One of my primary concerns was to look ahead to determine how QuikTrip could grow while maintaining high standards of operational consistency,” he said. “Complete answers to complicated retailing issues rarely exist—the hybrids that spring from trial and error have proven to be more flexible, more likely to yield lasting results.”
In other words, find your balance. Hone it, perfect it, never waiver and by no means cheat the customers. “We’re proud of our ability to plan, manage and motivate because we’ve spent half a century figuring out what does and doesn’t work for us,” Cadieux said. “Few things in life are as dependable as change, which is why constant improvement is more than just a mantra at QuikTrip.”
This balance of perfecting operational issues and providing outstanding customer service has served the company well, and if you’ve spent any time inside a QuikTrip store or talked to one of its customers, it’s obvious this philosophy continues to pay big dividends. Who knows,maybe Quick-Trip evolves a little differently and spends decades “almost” satisfying consumers’ needs. QuikTrip doesn’t have that problem and I can’t help but wonder how differently things would have been for Swifty Serve had it found a good sign guy.
The book, published by Mullerhaus Publishing, is available on Amazon.com.
Kudos to Chevron
For the 19th time in its 19th year, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to bestow the prestigious Chain of the Year award to a most deserving chain, Chevron. 
In accepting the award at an invite-only gala at the Metropolitan Club in Chicago, Danny Roden, vice president for the Americas for Chevron Global Marketing, said the company strives to create programs that benefit its marketers and consumers.
“The Chain of the Year award is a testament to the hard work of the Chevron team, but it’s also an indication of the outstanding work our marketers do every day and how much they push us to constantly improve our offering,” Roden said. “This is confirmation that we have created something special and everyone’s hard work is paying off.”
View pictures from the Chain of the Year dinner and read more about Chevron’s efforts in this month’s cover story beginning on page 20. 
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