The Dangers of Complacency
A great part of my job is getting to read our team’s interviews with industry leaders, and sometimes do interviews myself. I am always interested in what I can personally learn and apply.
Over the past few months, comments from Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel and Kum & Go CEO Kyle Krause have stayed with me. From Kyle: “Complacency is the greatest threat to our channel.” And when I met with Howard, I asked what was one of his biggest concerns in his more than a decade of running Wawa. His reply: “Making sure we did not get complacent.”
Complacency is in the top 1% of lookups and is the 73rd most popular word on MerriamWebster.com. The site’s definition: “self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”
So in an industry facing credit-card fees, competitive channels, government regulation and the need to understand our recession-battered, ethnically diverse customer base, how are we doing? What can we grab hold of and shake if indeed we think we suspect a bit of complacency has crept into our world?
The competitive channels are getting more newsworthy. Dollar General now counts 10,000 stores; DG is in our business in most categories and moving aggressively into tobacco. Walgreens and most of the other big drug chains are getting into foodservice. These channel blurrers use the word “convenience” in their company purpose as if they really mean it.
Investigate a little deeper and it’s obvious that Wawa or Kum & Go are driven to take on the future. For example, Kum & Go has been measuring customer loyalty since 2008 through Satmetrix Systems Inc. Customers were asked the question, “How likely is it that you would recommend Kum & Go to a friend or colleague?” They ranked Kum & Go second, just behind Trader Joe’s, but ahead of Wegmans, Costco and Publix.
At CSP’s Restaurant Leadership Conference (RLC), Howard told the 1,500 attendees, “We now want to be viewed as a restaurant that sells gas” and “My dream is to become the most appetizing convenience retailer.” (I am sure we will see that in the new Wawa store design in Florida this summer.)
But maybe Kyle’s and Howard’s mentions of complacency hit home for me most when I was listening to Herman Cain address our RLC audience on the need to fix Washington, D.C. I thought, “Hey, CSP gives to NACSPAC.” In fact, I was asked to write a column for the March NACS magazine in part to let folks know that CSP is the first company in our industry to institute a NACSPAC voluntary payroll deduction plan. About 40% of our c-store team has enrolled. So I figured we were done. Leave the fixing to the fixers.
Cain not only laid out why he thinks D.C. is broken, but also told us how we can do something about it. His message was very clear and direct about what we can do in addition to supporting a PAC. As business leaders we have an opportunity— and responsibility—to educate those in our companies about the issues that challenge our future and the views of our elected officials on these issues.
We have a tool that it seems almost daily shocks us with its potency. Our call to action is to use the Internet as one of our top fix-it tools. Our voice can be heard and our well-informed employees can make a difference in D.C.
So the message for me: I was complacent. I thought, “Well, we have done our part at CSP with NACSPAC support.” In fact, we can do so much more. If government regulation is one of our greatest threats, then let’s rally on how we can make that difference. Social media has reorganized the Mideast; D.C. is a lot closer, and it could be easier to do the same there. (Some may argue it would not be as easy.)
So to those who want to take complacency head on, I would like to tell you about two learnings from a personalgrowth seminar I attended. I heard that if you conceive an idea, and if you believe it, you will find a way to achieve it. So if you conceive and believe, you will achieve. And another reminder: In all regards, we act the way we think. So what do you think? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.