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The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole
Location: Jackson Hole, WY
2021 Revenues: $11.5 million
Net Operating Income
Coach: Dave Scholten
The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole was started by locals in 1985 with just five employees and 600 feet of floor space. It was the first liquor store in the state to be attached to a grocery store instead of a bar. It has since grown into an organization with 50 employees and some 5,200 square feet of operations space, where it offers the city’s largest selection of beer, wine, hard-to-find spirits, and accessories. “The business was built on providing phenomenal customer service and by being a place people enjoyed working,” says Stephan C. Abrams, partner and CEO. “We’re all about people.”
Abrams began working for The Liquor Store as a cashier and stock person in 1999 before accepting a position in management. He also has a long-term plan for the business and its employees. “An important component for my 25-year-plan is to create a business model which will build wealth and security for the people who are along for the ride,” he says. But to realize that dream, he knew he couldn’t do it alone.
After first learning about it in 2013, Abrams recognized that The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) could be one of the tools he used to fulfill his long-term plan. “I believe GGOB is a methodology which is raising the bar in the organization and laying the foundation for us to grow the organization in a financially strong and culturally healthy fashion,” he says. After struggling to self-implement GGOB, Abrams hired a coach, Dave Scholten, to push his team’s implementation through to the finish line in January 2020.
Since kicking off GGOB, Abrams says he sees new conversations happening which contribute to the success of the business. “We have better open communication with richer content,” he says. “Team leaders don’t feel alone in their responsibilities.” Responsibility of line items like revenue, COGS, and expenses no longer belongs to the CFO, but rather to a line-item owner. “The entire team also understands people on the team are the key to the success of the business along with providing clear focus on the numbers,” says Abrams, noting that the business’s revenue has jumped, gross profit has improved, and its net operating percentage has doubled—which means they are putting more to the bottom line than ever. Just as importantly in the context of the War for Talent, The Liquor Store has also been certified as a “Great Place to Work,” which has helped dramatically cut turnover.
“Everyone in management gained access to open books early on and learned how to maintain Line of Sight toward our goals and our Stake in the Outcome. We learned largely just from tracking financials how to influence our net operating income and, as we progress to sharing this information to all employees, engagement has increased substantially and palpably.”
~ Chris Riley, Warehouse Manager
Pain Points and Opportunities
While supply shortages loom at times for the business, Abrams says that far and away the thing that keeps him up at night is the mental health of his employees. “There is a massive housing crunch here where we live,” he says. “It’s becoming close to impossible to find somewhere to live, and that’s if you can afford it. We know that when our employees are worried about whether their rent is going to go up by 50% next month, they’re not going to have their head in the game. Something is going to break.” That’s forced Abrams to consider adding positions where employees can work remotely from more affordable locations. Adding to the mental stress of the team in Jackson Hole is the fact that Abrams says his people are often treated rudely by customers who might be upset about the lack of inventory or how quickly they are being served. “It’s a real challenge when customers aren’t compassionate with the staff,” he says.
“GGOB has given the staff a sense of pride when we do well and allows them to understand how they affect the bottom line.”
~ Alex Tomlinson, TLS Store Manager
While Abrams admits that the team has room to improve when it comes to playing MiniGames, he’s also excited about how they’re recommitting to them by looking to the GGOB community for help. “My education and training manager has brought back best practices from her cohort,” he says, “and she has spearheaded successful MiniGames at multiple locations.” An example was a MiniGame played to increase the accuracy of customer orders—with a top goal of reaching 95% accuracy.
One of the big changes Abrams and his team have implemented recently is to establish an internal mentorship program to help drive deeper levels of knowledge and understanding of the business among the team through one-on-one meetings. The program has already proven its worth by helping people better understand their Stake in the Outcome bonus program and how it worked. “It creates an atmosphere of collegiality that allows us to ask difficult questions and have honest conversations,” says Debbie Morrison, Chief of Staff. “We provide a culture and space to talk and ask for assistance. We don’t have to ask Stephan to solve every problem anymore.
“We've fostered a very open and honest work environment. It's given employees the confidence to ask questions about the health of the business that they might have otherwise kept to themselves.”
For nearly 40 years, The Great Game of Business™ has helped organizations reach their highest potential and value.
Tapping into the universal human need to win, GGOB educates your people in the rules of business, rallies them around a common goal, empowers them to see and improve the score, and engages them by giving them a stake in the outcome.