The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole has continued to offer the city’s largest selection of beer, wine, hard-to-find spirits, and accessories since 1985. It was the first liquor store in the state to be attached to a grocery store instead of a bar.
Stephan C. Abrams began working for The Liquor Store as a cashier and stock person in 1999. He’s now a partner and serves as CEO. He also has a 25-year-plan for the business and its employees. “An important component for my 25-year-plan is to create a business model which will create 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 The Game, 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 that the numbers are the key to the success of the business,” 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.
“There has certainly been a cultural shift in growing the business and I think part of that is the education offered by GGOB. I think it's also the players and the team that we've built over the last year. We all know the goal/Critical Number, and everyone from floor staff to leadership is comfortable sharing ideas.”
~ Anna Bonds, Training and Education Lead
Spotlight on the Pandemic
The team had just begun its rollout of GGOB when the pandemic hit. “We were tracking some lead measures, looking at what we do each day at the store to influence that number,” says Abrams. “But we were not yet doing forward forecasting.” But they had established a Huddle rhythm, which they relied on to communicate throughout 2020. As an essential business that remained open, the two primary challenges the team faced throughout the year was getting enough product and getting enough people to sell the product. “Who knew everyone would visit Jackson Hole, WY, during the pandemic summer?” asks Abrams. “Could we have tackled those challenges without GGOB? Maybe, but it would have been really painful. Now we’re setting records every month. GGOB helped bring people’s willingness to perform to a higher level.”
The first MiniGame the team ran was a huge success. “We sold through a pallet of wine faster than we had ever done in the past,” says Abrams. But as business exploded over the summer months, the team found themselves short in key positions, which forced them to abandon some of their other MiniGames. Spurring more MiniGames that come from the frontline is an opportunity for the team to Level Up on in 2021.
“GGOB has built a level of trust throughout the company that has driven employee engagement to an amazing place.”
~ Alex Tomlinson, Store Manager
The biggest challenge Abrams wants to tackle in 2021 is to use GGOB to reduce employee turnover. “We have always heavily relied on seasonal employees and currently have a 154% annual turnover rate,” he says. “Our plan is to reduce it down to less than 25%. Part of what we’re doing with GGOB is creating an environment where people want to stay.”
“GGOB has given me a different perspective on how interesting the workplace can be and the knowledge of how the back end works.”
~ Edwin Cortes, Supervisor