Part-time Employees Hurt Customer Experience

Are part-time employees hurting the Customer Experience your company delivers?
Since the recession and Health Care Reform we have seen a huge trend of companies shifting workers to part-time to lower payroll and avoid paying for employee health insurance. However, there is one company, Sheetz, headquartered in Altoona, PA, that is bucking that trend and is made up of a majority of full-time workers. Leaders at the convenience-store and gas-station chain say having full-time workers behind the register results in better customer service, lower turnover and a more engaged workforce.  Executives agree this will lead to higher sales and profits, which was reported in an article, “Full-Time Hires Buck the Trend at Fast-Food, Retail Chains.”

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Full-time employees’ turnover significantly less
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data, nearly 5.7 million workers said they were working part-time last year because they couldn’t get more hours or find full-time work. About 65% of store employees in the retail sector work part-time according to an analysis by search and consulting firm, Korn Ferry Hay Group. However, companies like Sheetz acknowledge that full-timers might cost more at first, but say they are more reliable: 27% of full-time hourly workers leave their jobs per year, versus 68.7% of part-timers, according to the Korn Ferry report.  Employers say lower employee turnover saves on training and hiring costs, and some report their customers spend more when full-timers take orders and ring up purchases.

Full time employees go the extra mile
Full-time workers are the “glue” that holds businesses together, research has found. They help coordinate tasks and anticipate business needs, and are often more committed. These employees are more likely to go the extra mile on the job, such as tracking down an item online for a customer. For customers, a full-time employee “gives them the same face every day. It builds a different feeling than the robot behind the counter,” says Sheetz CEO, Joe Sheetz. Full-time workers tend to report more commitment and willingness to put in extra effort than part-timers do. Less than a quarter of Sheetz’s full-time staff leaves each year compared with 83% for part-timers. Overall voluntary turnover at the company is down two percentage points from last year, saving $925,000 in recruiting and training.

At Buffalo Wings & Rings, a restaurant with 50 locations in the U.S.,  full-timers ring up 6% higher sales per hour on average and have far lower rates of absenteeism than part-timers do, according to CEO, Nader Masadeh. The eatery has doubled its share of full-time workers since 2013, with about 37% of employees working full-time. The company’s training costs have fallen 25% as a result, according to Mr. Masadeh.

Walking the Talk
I recently purchased a car from The Davis Automotive Group, which owns and operates three car dealerships in Solon, Ohio. It was a good experience, but not anything extremely memorable. This past Memorial Day I got home from a trip with my trunk fully loaded, and my trunk would not open. Now most of the stuff in the trunk wasn’t critical, except my computer bag. I needed my computer bag for my 6 am flight to LAX the next morning. I started to panic.  I tried everything: read the car manual, called everyone I knew in the auto industry, I even removed the back seat! Nothing worked.

I called the dealership hoping that they were having a Memorial Day sale and someone there could help me get my trunk open; however, they were closed and wouldn’t be opening till the next day at 7 a.m., an hour after my flight departed. My panic increased. Someone I knew gave me the cell number of Jeff Davis, the President/Owner of Davis Automotive Group. I had met Jeff once or twice for a few moments, but did not have a relationship with him (at least one that I felt comfortable calling his cell phone on a holiday.) However, I had no other choice, so I called him and left him a voice message sharing my situation. I assumed he was traveling or spending time with his family and probably wouldn’t be checking his voice mail until the next business day.  To my surprise, a few minutes later Mr. Davis returned my call and empathized with my situation. He said, “Let me call my service manager and see what I can find out for you. We will get that trunk open.”  For the next hour he called and texted me back several times telling me to try different things until one of his suggestions worked! Even I was impressed that he gave up an hour of his family’s time on Memorial Day to come to the rescue for me. The Davis Automotive Group just earned my loyalty and future car purchasing.

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.

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