Business Management

The Three C’s of Recruiting the Next Generation of Self-Serve Leaders

June 17, 2019 | By Elyssa Steiner

The Three C’s of Recruiting the Next Generation of Self-Serve Leaders

Both Millennials and Generation Z will make up a majority of the workforce by next year. Early Millennials are approaching late 30s, and taking on greater leadership roles in their companies, while Generation Z is just entering the workforce. 

Sometimes dubbed as “the instant gratification generation,” this younger cohort comes with a set of expectations that may be different than previous generations when it comes to their career. Whether it is culture, flexibility, mentorship or growth, it’s critically important that unattended retailers understand how to attract, retain, and promote future leaders.  Unattended retailers that are able to attract this younger generation will not only cement the success and longevity of their company over time, but ensure the future of the industry as it shifts to meet the needs of generations who prefer self-serve environments. 

Last month at NAMA, Elyssa Steiner, Director of Marketing at USA Technologies, lead a panel discussion with four Millennials who have risen through the ranks within the unattended retail space to discuss their experiences entering the industry, what’s most important to them and others of their generation when choosing a job and career path, and what unattended retailers should consider when looking to attract, retain and advance next-generation employees. 

The panel, “How to Recruit and Retain the Next Generation,” was comprised of Jim Versical, Sales Manager of 365 Retail Markets, Kari Hatt, Partner at Culture by Choice, Mike Hoeft, Regional Account Manager at BUNN, and Lee Mondol, Branch Manager with Canteen of Coastal California, Inc.

The discussion kicked off by each panelist explaining what attracted them to their current company. While all of the panelists varied in terms of expectations for their career paths, they all agreed that Culture, Compensation and Cause were three important factors when considering any job opportunity. 


Panelists discussed how feeling at home was a critical component for why they joined their current company and have stayed. 

“I was an outsider to the industry,” explained Jim Versical, Sales Manager at 365 Retail Markets,” I didn’t know convenience services existed in college.  When I was approached by 365, what attracted me was the culture. It was very collaborative, open and made me feel like home even as an outsider to the industry.”

Kari Hatt, Partner, Culture by Choice, who joined her father’s company as a partner, said finding meaning in her job was most important, “One of the initial things that attracted me and has kept me there is my desire to help companies build intentional cultures… we are in an economy where people jump ship to find places where they can add value. Our focus is to help organizations develop this and make it intentional to reflect their values.” 

“I came to Bunn out of college after I worked for a large corporation where I felt like a number,” said Mike Hoeft, Regional Account Manager and BUNN. “As I went into Bunn, I was attracted by culture.” He mentioned during his first week of training, dinner was served in the courtyard of the hotel. “Everyone was flipping steaks and there was a cooler full of beer.  I felt like a member of the family.” 


While many hirers in the industry believe that competitive salaries are a deciding factor for many considering positions, with younger, upwardly motivated generations, it can be just one piece of a larger set of compensation criteria. 

“[Compensation] is important but not a deal breaker,” explained Mr. Hoeft. “It has a lot to do with culture, promotions and if there is a career path, and how a company reflects your career path. Whether they have an individual growth plan, and how the company follows it with training and support is more important than just salary.” 

Mr. Versical echoed this sentiment, “There are other benefits like working from home that may entice someone to take a lower salary. Having flexibility.” 

“You have to know the employee and what motivates them,” explained Ms. Hatt. “Ask whether you think that the person you are considering hiring is motivated by moving up in leadership, working on commission to earn more, or if knowing they can still spend time with their family is most important.  Many times, businesses think we have to be competitive with salary, which is true if you are below everyone else, but if you aren’t checking off items dealing with what motivates employees, they won’t stay even if you’re paying the most.”

For Lee Mondol, Branch Manager, Canteen of Coastal California Inc., who started part-time in the warehouse, opportunity was the most attractive quality, “I didn’t know the industry. When I got my degree, I realized I wanted to be a route driver because you weren’t stuck behind a desk. I saw that everyone above me was reaching retirement, and I saw an opportunity.” 

As next generation employees move up, they are also looking for help from company leadership to not only learn their new roles, but for guidance and mentorship.  “I recently moved into a leadership position, and I lean on the executive team to help guide me through the transition to help me change behaviors and learn how to manage people,” Mr. Versical explained. 

“It’s important that those rising into levels of leadership have a more senior leader or mentor to nurture their talents and recognize other blockers that could prevent them from growing,” said Ms. Hatt. “It’s important that these individuals also be open working through blockers.”


Corporate social responsibility programs were also discussed as possible options for ways to promote “meaning” for younger employees. While it’s not always an option for smaller operators, the panel discussed ways to connect to causes even informally. 

“We don’t have [a CSR program] being small,” noted Ms. Hatt. “But you have to look at what you stand for as an organization. How do you want to give back, whether it is social or environmental responsibility and take a proactive stance…This creates a positive language in the community.” 

Mr. Hoeft also noted that “Bunn takes [CSR] seriously… and has a corporate outreach program that offers, on top of vacation, one week of dedicated time for community outreach. It’s a different, but added, benefit.” 

The next generation of leaders is already staking their claim on management positions and with it, transforming not only the companies they work for, but expectations for everything from culture, to compensation and cause.  Older generations looking to attract this talent must not only focus on traditional compensation and benefits but connect on a personal level with what a potential hire is looking for.  Whether it is flexibility, a growth plan, mentorship, or feeling like they are doing something meaningful, no two candidates will be the same. Those unattended retailers who are able to connect into an individual’s expectations and desires will be able to not only hire them, but hone their skills as future leaders in their company as well as the unattended retail industry. 


Elyssa Steiner

Chief Marketing Officer

Elyssa has over 10 years in the self-service retail industry and was among the first to be a part of launching the micro market concept into the vending channel. She is passionate about sharing both her knowledge in self-service retail and marketing with industry associations such as NAMA and Frost and Sullivan’s Marketing professionals.

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