Never Stop Learning

Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.

Like it or not, life will continue to deliver learning experiences to all of us. Sometimes the experiences are harsh and in your face, like last winter’s snow storms. Sometimes the learning opportunities are repetitive, like our balloon festival which we have hosted for the past 22 years.  And sometimes it is something new we chose to do, like expanding to Long Island. No matter how these experiences come to us, each gives us an opportunity to learn, grow and improve our future performance.

Looking back, this year’s balloon festival may have been the best ever in our 22 year history of hosting the largest summertime balloon and music festival in North America. We showcased our signature TCD hospitality and served our best in class fresh products to tens of thousands of families. I remember with a laugh and a grin how ill prepared we were with our first festival. However, over the years we learned and made continuous improvements to create one of the greatest annual events in America.

Then there is Long Island. Think of all the new things we needed to do in order to open our first of many stores on Long Island. Everyone needed to step up and learn new ways for us to integrate Long Island into our business. Real Estate has worked for over 3 years to fill the site pipeline in the new territory. Construction developed the local relationships to help us build stores. Marketing worked to insure we have merchandise suppliers on hand and launched advertising campaigns to introduce our brand. HR and Operations developed recruiting and training programs to insure we have ready team members who meet our high standards for TCD levels of service. IT, Store Support and Finance worked to put new systems in place to support the new stores in new territory. All new learnings which open up opportunities for personal growth and success for all of us.

And if last winter’s snow storms were repeated in years to come, I am confident we will have taken stock in what went well during the winter of 2014 and what we could have improved on; because we should never waste a learning opportunity. Thanks to all of you who make QuickChek what we are today and are working together to create an even greater company for our future. I am proud we are on this journey together.

P.S. – Here is a tip which you may want to use with your team to provide continuous learning and help you reach your goals. During a PLC visit to West Point this year, I learned a US Military procedure called AAR; After Action Review. As policy, leaders must conduct AARs after each mission by holding an open and honest meeting with their team. They ask 4 questions, one at a time, and expect specifics for each area.

  1. What was expected to happen?
  2. What actually occurred?
  3. What went well and why?
  4. What can be improved and how?

An AAR can be used after any number of events; a Mystery Shop, an Inventory, the monthly P&L, a new Sales Program launch or after the next snowstorm.

See you soon, Dean

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