Quiktrip, she says, gets big benefits from cross-training workers to do more than one job. When customer traffic is at its highest, they concentrate on serving customers. When it falls off, they do other work that they've been trained to do, including brewing coffee, re-ordering merchandise, sweeping floors, stocking freezers and cleaning bathrooms.
At Quiktrip, part-time employees get 40 hours of training, Ton writes, and full-timers get two weeks. That compares, she writes, to an average of only seven hours of training per employee for the retail industry generally.
Ton thinks the model used by these retailers can be applied broadly to other kinds of service organizations, including banks, hospitals, restaurants and hotels.
What do the employees of these companies think? On Glassdoor.com, Costco rates a 3.7 out of 5 with employees saying things like: "The culture is great. The pay is the highest in the industry. You're working for a corporation that has high morals."
Quiktrip got 4 out of 5 stars, with one worker saying: "Putting employee compensation ahead of profit and bottom line, this company was built by loyalty." Some 84 percent of employees who submitted reviews to the site would recommend their job to a friend. Just 48 percent of those who work at Walmart said the same thing.