The truckstop and travel plaza industry is full of outstanding operators who continually make life easier for their customers. Throughout 2018, Stop Watch would like to highlight a handful of the women who make the industry great.
Elizabeth Waring, Johnson and Johnson Inc.
Elizabeth Waring, president and CEO of Johnson and Johnson Inc., which operates its chain of Busy Bee locations in Florida, comes from a long line of strong female leaders. Her grandmother Mary Lilla Johnson was the first female mayor of Madison, Florida, and her mother, Jackie Johnson also served as mayor. “I come from a long line of strong Queen Bees,” Waring said.
Waring’s grandfather started the business in the 1930s, and Waring has been immersed in her family’s business since childhood. “I remember my parents had me start out by helping in the office with the old manual credit card slips,” she said. “Being a part of this company is who I am. My dad always took us to different locations as a child and we would help pick up trash or clean the store.”
Busy Bee is headquartered in Madison, Florida, and includes two truckstops and 16 convenience stores that are located primarily in Florida. Waring said that every day in the travel plaza industry is different, which is what makes her job fun, fresh and exciting. “Things constantly arise that cause me to change course throughout the day from site development to branding,” she said.
As a mother of two, Waring also tries to maintain a structured schedule and meet with her executive team weekly. “I’ve built an amazing team that has enabled me to feel confident delegating tasks. This allows me to accomplish so much more during my day,” she said, adding that she loves having the ability to create the Busy Bee brand and make decisions about the future of the company. “There is something really special about driving down the road and seeing your company logo on the back of a car.”
Interacting with customers makes every day fun for Waring. Even better, Busy Bee’s customers are brand loyal and excited to grow with the company. To keep customers loyal, Busy Bee’s team focuses on exceeding expectations with its service.
“As a third-generation Florida business we love to market and promote other home grown local businesses by carrying locally made products. Florida has a wealth of resources and supporting our local economy is a very important part of our business. This is frequently not an expectation for convenience stores and we want to be set apart,” she said.
Busy Bee has several women in leadership positions, including the director of operations and controller, director of adverting e-commerce and a good number of the management team in both the c-stores and food service offerings. “I believe that it is a fantastic time to be working as a woman in business where your station is based off of hard work, merit and integrity. We have put together a team of the best teammates and value them based on the content of their character,” Waring said, adding that a woman’s perspective may not be any different than a man’s, but she looks at some key factors that make up a good stop.
“Many women today travel for business by themselves or travel unaccompanied making safety a top priority. To have our exterior well lit, welcoming and inviting so that anyone stopping feels safe has been a main focus of our business model,” Waring said.
The restrooms are a top priority at Busy Bee. “‘Clean Potties, It’s Our Beeswax!’ is what we believe to be the single most important focus of our sites,” Waring said. “Who wants to stop at a dirty bathroom? Our goal is to provide beautifully designed, always spotless and fresh smelling potties so our guests know that this staple can always be found at their Busy Bee.”
When asked what advice she’d share with others, Waring said: “Never compromise your values, never grow tired of going above and bee-yond for others and never be concerned that hard work goes unnoticed.”
Wanda Sheffield, Miller's Oil
As vice president of operations at Miller’s Oil, Wanda Sheffield enjoys the challenge of putting out fires, helping the company’s staff grow and increasing the bottom line. “I love seeing the results when everyone is working together to reach the same goal,” Sheffield said. “It’s also fun to try and come up with new ideas to wow our customers.”
Sheffield has been in the petroleum industry for 33 years, and today her day starts at 4:30 in the morning and ends around 6:30 in the evening. She starts by looking at daily reports on inside sales, fuel gallons and margins. “I try to determine any issues that might need attention and then the emails start to go out to those who can make things happen,” she said. “Communication to the field is always a must, without it we will not survive.”
After spending some time in the office working on projects and goals, Sheffield goes out to visit locations, meet vendors and support her team. Sheffield said it is the customer experience that makes Miller’s Oil locations a success. “If we make their experience from the time they hit our lot till the time they leave, they will return. I am very competitive and we strive to be the best,” she said.
Sheffield said having a female perspective helps her make the locations welcoming. “I think sometimes we look at it from a different perspective of the actual experience and products we offer—safety, cleanliness, speed of service and product mix are all things I look for when shopping the competition,” she said.
Sheffield advises other women in the industry to work diligently and work smart to succeed. “Always be looking for the next great thing to grow your business. Set goals. They will help to keep you on track and hopefully take you over the finish line,” she said.
Photos of Waring and Sheffield speaking at NATSO Connect provided by Brittany Palmer/NATSO.
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