How did you get into this business?
I have worked in the grocery business for 16 years. Our family relocated in 1998 to a new and quickly growing community that was lacking in convenience stores and gas stations. I wrote to all the major companies, enquiring about a possible franchise/partnership opportunity.
What was the biggest challenge of your career?
Without a doubt the biggest challenge was the COVID-19 pandemic. We were an essential service – and we rose to the challenge.
What's the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I have ever received is this: Ensure you empower your frontline staff. They are the direct contact to the customer.
What is your career highlight or proudest achievement?
I was a first-ever female store manager [at Zehrs]. I am also very proud to continue working in daily operations with ongoing increases in sales for three large truck stops. I am excited to see what are likely the most significant changes in the c-store sector since I started in this business, especially with more and more foodservice offerings.
How do you define yourself as a leader?
As a leader, I strive to be a mentor. That is my most important role. I try to be a trainer and share as much information as possible. I empower staff to make decisions, with follow-up. Staff should be telling me what they need to look after our customers; my job is to make the requested changes or explain why they are not possible.
What challenges do you think lie ahead for your sector?
I think future challenges are directly related to consumer online ordering. C-stores are one of the few remaining businesses build on direct interaction with the consumer. We are an important part of the community, and for this, we should be very proud.