Five Keys to Grow Food Sales

Image of store manager stretching and focusing. Store managers thrive when they practice the five keys to grow food sales.

Surveys of c-store managers identify five keys to grow food sales.  Food service is critical to the future success of most c-stores. A strong store manager can typically thrive in a store with great food offers as many of the jobs are the same as non-food stores. However, there are key differences. Preparing and supporting your managers to oversee food services drives success, provides retention opportunities and protects your stores during both good and bad economic times. Five critical areas of food service management are:

  1. Suggestive Selling
  2. Keep the Hot Case Full
  3. Clean Store, Happy Staff
  4. Customer Service
  5. Strong Signage

Suggestive Selling

Each person working in the store is the best influencer of the customer experience. Staying active and engaged keeps customers feeling welcome. Further, sharing ideas and offering suggestions helps customers to try new things, feel appreciated and more likely to buy more. Suggestive selling is never pushy, aggressive or over the top. Engaging with the customer will naturally lead to questions and conversations about the food. Normal interactions include opportunities to provide ideas and suggestions to customers. Thus upselling and suggestions are the first of the five keys to grow food sales.

Keep the Hot Case Full

No one can buy something that is not available. Food sales tend to bunch at normal meal and snack times. Traffic patterns are consistent and allow preparation of food to be ready and available with the appropriate quantities. Many top managers prefer to have a little bit too much rather than too little. Excessive waste is not to be tolerated, but growing sales cover reasonable waste in the name of having what is wanted. Clients that are hungry and who have limited time often frequent those places with ready food that they love to eat.

Clean Store, Happy Staffimage of food service work in a convenience store

No one trusts a store that is dirty or has unclean bathrooms for their food. If the store is not clean then the assumption is that the kitchen is not sanitary as well. Customers quickly judge a store by its appearance. Likewise the staff’s appearance and attentiveness matter. Looking sharp and acting enthusiastic provides confidence to a customer that is buying food for herself, her family and friends. Taste and presentation are critical, but nothing works in food when the store does not look clean and healthy.

Simple things like standard pants, a company shirt and a kitchen apron provide a uniform look that adds to the polish of a store. Food requires both its own special requirements but demands the store be well maintained and cleaned.

Customer Service

Perhaps the most frequent assignment a store manager addresses is customer service. Some managers argue that food service management is the same as any other retail management- all aboutimage of fun loving staff that epitomize great customer service. One of the critical store management focus points to grow food sales in a c-store. customer service. Of course, this is an extreme position and there are differences for successful c-store food growth. However, the main point is that whether selling food or selling the ‘c-side’, customers want to receive great service. With food, there are a few basics any new staffer must get right:

      1. Wash your hands
      2. Wear clean clothes
      3. Groom well
      4. Make eye-contact
      5. Get the order right

Customers want to be greeted, served promptly by someone they trust. Most importantly, they want to get good food that they ordered, that tastes great and is safe to eat.

Strong Signage

Having great signs, especially the digital signs provides not only a great way for customers to see your food offers, but also makes the store look modern and nice. Digital signs allow advertisements, fun images to support the customer experience while also building the store brand. Further, it shows the store is current and knows how to manage itself. Well designed signage not only provides a functional service to help customers order more easily, but also provides a look and feel that can make a more drab store special. Of course, the signs need to be well designed, follow the store brand and contribute to the overall customer experience.

More Critical Management Tips for C-Stores

Management Keys for C-Store Food Service

Store Manager ROI Strategy

Examples of Food Service Promotion – Sheetz