| Case Study

Targeting every worker with quick comms

Reaching a widely dispersed workforce with two-way communication

How it started

Searching for a better way

Wawa, the iconic East Coast chain of 24-hour convenience stores, has a widely dispersed workforce of 33,000 spread throughout 800 locations. The company needed a better way to provide employees with timely, relevant information so they could feel more confident about understanding company initiatives, more inspired about their jobs, and create a great in-store experience for everyone who walks through the front door.

It’s a monumental challenge for the company to engage with a workforce consisting mostly of hourly, shift-work employees who have a tenuous connection with the corporate home office. Often, these employees don’t even have company email addresses. So, leadership was reduced to communicating with store employees through their shift managers or printed materials, such as breakroom posters.

This haphazard, inconsistent method of communication presented a huge problem. Frontline workers, of course, have the most contact with the public. They can make or break relationships with customers. 

Where they landed

Staying connected with “The Honker”

Wawa determined that the solution to better communication throughout the organization could be found in the pockets of employees—their mobile devices. Today, people use smartphones as remote controls for their daily lives as they access interesting and useful information. Wawa wanted to replicate that experience on the job.

The Firstup platform was the solution.

Working with Firstup, Wawa created a branded platform called “The Honker,” which reflects the company’s goose theme and gives Wawa the ability to effectively engage a widely dispersed workforce that includes those hourly shift workers. The company delivers information to employees such as new sales programs and essential safety announcements. It uses surveys to get the pulse of employees on various topics. The CEO regularly records short, breezy videos to connect with employees. Also, the two-way communication provided by The Honker allows store employees to notify the corporate home office of any issues—allowing Wawa to solve problems quickly.

The platform instantly was a big hit. Within the first month, one-third of the workforce (more than 10,000 workers) registered for the platform, and after about 10 months, 15,000 employees were enrolled. Employees are more productive and work more efficiently. But just as crucial for Wawa, frontline workers feel like they’re part of a broader community beyond their individual stores.



Wawa, Inc., a privately held company, began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Today, Wawa is your all-day, every-day stop for fresh, built-to-order foods, beverages, coffee, fuel services, and surcharge-free ATMs, and Boundless Convenience™. A chain of more than 850 convenience retail stores (over 600 offering gasoline), Wawa stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

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