Every C-Store owner challenges us data geeks to do something useful, like selling more Snickers. They often tease that data cannot sell anything or help with the real work of providing convenience. We know they are right in many ways. Of course it is the C-Store staff that does the real work to make service great and keep customers visiting. But knowing you are not selling enough Snickers bars and quickly seeing why is something data can do to help. Even better, corrective actions can be recommended based your operating procedures and company experience base when these items are identified and brought forward as urgent matters to address. The result can be better actions based on feedback found within your data.
In makes sense intuitively, all C-Store Managers have key performance indicators that they watch, using their database makes it easier to identify, communicate and even improve results. Many operators, however, do want to keep a steady watch on the numbers and know that tracking accurately does make a difference to the way staff work and indeed how many snicker bars are sold.
But still it has to be more than just objective numbers or the monthly financial statements. Most C-Store operators have a key set of criteria:
It must be timely. If the data comes too late, it is much harder to think about the cause and come up with an action. If a problem is revenue related it increases the loss
It must be simple to understand. Scorecards for operations people must be simple and quik or they will not use them. Operations people are too busy working with customers where they cannot take a lot of time each day to
analyze and process.
It must be a comparison to something important
a. Same day last week
b. Same week last year
c. Same holiday
d. Similar weather
Numbers without context are not very helpful. If you have comparison numbers you can tell quickly which direction things are heading. Of course, there are other circumstances but comparing the same store numbers to similar
situations makes things more useful. No one would compare an 18 bay interstate store to a 2 bay rural store and expect to see similar numbers.
It must be something that can be controlled. Almost every C-Store operator expects the store manager to do a lot more with inside sales than gas. Gas sales are much harder to control. The more control the person feels they can have, the more likely they will be motivated by business intelligence. Balancing the view and the measurements between financial, operational, customer and training can give a store manager a fair approach and make it clear that they can, if not control, exert great influence over their results.
So just like any good team, it takes participation to get optimal results. Business Intelligence alone will not make a great store, but teamed with the right staff and leadership it can drive your performance.