Pride, tradition, exceptional service, an outstanding culture and dedicated employees. These are just some of the unique qualities found in the industry’s top convenience store chains. For the past 22 years, Convenience Store Decisions has had the honor of recognizing this excellence in retailing and this year we are proud to honor Thorntons Inc. as the 2011 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.
Thorntons was chosen by our Chain of the Year nominating committee for a variety of reasons—all benchmarks when selecting the Chain of the Year winner. In this challenging economic environment that has persisted throughout 2011 the company continues to open new-to-industry stores at an impressive clip, while remodeling existing locations. It has dramatically reduced turnover, upped its investment in foodservice and car washes and has still made it a priority to generously support the local communities it serves, both physically and financially.
Thorntons believes in being open and honest with its team members and setting clear, direct goals. As part of its core values management reinforces respect for each other and that every team member counts. Everyone has a voice in the company and the result is that team members are eager to step up and provide ideas to ensure exceptional service to its customers.
“The success of our team members is critical to the success of our company,” President and CEO Matt Thornton told me at the Chain of the Year awards dinner last month in Chicago. “One of our missions is to recognize and reward the outstanding employees that we have. As our employees are satisfied they take pride in serving the customers. This drives new business, but it also builds a contagious culture that allows us to connect with our customers.”
Low turnover is a welcomed byproduct of Thorntons’ commitment to its employees. As respect for employees has grown so has employee retention. At its worst five years ago Thorntons suffered from a turnover rate of 157% for front counter employees. Today, it comes in at 80%. For general manager positions the turnover rate is an even more impressive 13%, down from 70% in 2006.
Spend anytime at a Thorntons convenience store and you’ll begin to feel the intense loyalty employees have for the organization. The respect for the brand, the consumers and for themselves is palpable. Thorntons’ leadership nourishes this sense of pride with regular rewards, cash bonuses and significant advancement opportunities. When you visit Thorntons’ headquarters in Louisville you will run into scores of employees that started behind the front counter. Whereas some companies speak of advancement opportunities, Thorntons delivers.
It is precisely that delivery and support of team members that makes Thorntons special. As we did in Chicago, CSD once again salutes the Thorntons team for this well-deserved honor.
About the Chain of the Year Award
CSD‘s Chain of the Year award annually honors a convenience store or petroleum chain that has established itself as a superior retailer and innovator in its markets of operation. CSD’s first Chain of the Year award was given to Wawa Inc. in 1990. Thorntons follows 2010 Chain of the Year winner Rutter’s Farm Stores.
Past Chain of the Year Winners:
1990 – Wawa Inc.
1991 – SuperAmerica
1992 – QuikTrip Corp.
1993 – Casey’s General Stores Inc.
1994 – Sheetz Inc.
1995 – Diamond Shamrock Corp.
1996 – Mapco Express
1997 – Speedway Inc.
1998 – Krause Gentle Corp.
1999 – Dairy Mart Inc.
2000 – Amerada Hess Corp.
2001 – Huck’s Food & Fuel
2002 – Petro-Canada
2003 – Exxon Mobil Corp.
2004 – Kwik Trip Inc.
2005 – 7-Eleven Inc.
2006 – Valero Inc.
2007 – Alimentation Couche-Tard
2008 – Chevron Inc.
2009 – Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes
2010 – Rutter’s Farm Stores