In Case Study, Hiring

QuikTrip and my family have a pretty strange relationship.   Beyond fulfilling our commodity gasoline needs, my teenage children LOVE this store.   I often give them a hard time about their infatuation.   One time I finally asked my son why he thought QuikTrip was so special. He said the stores are always clean, the people are always friendly, and it is really quick to get in and out of the store. (Pun intended.)    He also added that he loved their donuts.

To be honest, I had always thought pretty highly of the stores myself.   What always caught me was without fail every employee seems to move with a purpose. That purpose always seems to involve making the customer experience positive and fast.

So being in the employment field I am always a bit curious as to how in the world did QT attract such highly polished and engaged employees? My wishful thinking was that I could find some sort of article online that documented the story of QuikTrip.   I was a bit concerned that the information would be limited because QT is a private company.   However, I was in luck and found that Professor Zeynep Ton prepared a business case that pretty much shed light on QuikTrip’s success.

QuikTrip the Case Study

Professor Zeynep Ton published a great overview of how QuikTrip not only is profitable but blows away its competitors on many of the industry metrics.   Here are just a few highlights from the report:

The U.S. Convenience Store Industry 2010

Category Industry Average Top Quartile QuikTrip
Merchandise Per Labor Hour




Fuel Sales gallons/week




Turnover Full Time




Professor Ton proceeds to detail some of the history of QT and how they have utilized operational efficiency, customer focus and a process of hiring outstanding employees to obtain these results.   Although the whole article is fascinating, I am going to briefly focus on the selection of employees.

Don’t Compromise when it comes to hiring

How does a company keep its employee turnover rate to 13% when the average for the industry is 109%?   I would propose that they were able to accomplish this because they have refused to compromise.   QuikTrip has decided to go against the norm of hiring average to low level employees for low wages and instead offer careers to employees not just a job.   They have built a system that screens and hires the best possible performers and invests in their success. The business case describes key elements of this process:

  • Selective hiring at entry level positions
  • Above average industry wages
  • Above average industry benefits that include vacation, sick leave and employee stock ownership
  • Structured training
  • Internal promotion path

Obviously the QuikTrip model will not work for every company. But the leadership lessons to look outside the norm and invest in people are fundamentally sound and shows when you walk in a store.

This case study also reminded me of some of the stories in the Books Good to Great and Great by Choice by Jim Collins. You may have read the Jim Collins quote People are not your greatest asset; the right people are!”  QuikTrip gets this.   They have made a commitment to be selective and invest in the long-term by offering above average pay and benefits, training, in the end they are way ahead of their competitors.

Lessons learned – “It’s not complicated”

“It’s not complicated” – (yes this is borrowed from those AT&T wireless ads)

  1. Having a very structured plan for hiring and not compromising will produce positive results
  2. Building career paths for employees will foster retention
  3. Long term investments in training and development done properly can be a win-win for employer, employee and customers

Whether you hire employees that face the public as customers or you hire for a person that serves internal customers, finding top performers that are both passionate and good at what they do is critical.   Put the passion you want out of these people into your hiring and retention process and never settle for average employees.

If you are interested in getting the full copy of the QuikTrip business case, give me a call.


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