October 20, 2016
Business intelligence (BI) for small c-store operators is complicated but necessary. Some argue that you have to have hundreds of stores to afford the staff and expertise needed to benefit. Processing, organizing, analyzing and sharing the data insights takes time, money and resources that are just too costly for small operators.
C-store staff are busy. Staff shortages create overload. The job is demanding for those that manage multiple stores. For starters, physically visiting multiple locations is time consuming. Travel takes money and time. Further, just too keeping the doors open requires effort. A busy schedule makes time to start new work scarce. Cleary, new technology requires more attention and time. There must be a big potential to justify the effort.
Business Intelligence Saves Time
Given technologies ever-improving tools, smaller companies can more easily afford BI. BI today combines data analytics and artificial intelligence. Even better, the benefits to saving time and making more money provide a fast and impressive ROI. For example, the things you learn about your business while evaluating your data will often surprise you. You realize and face your problems head-on. This results from understanding the truth better with numbers. Objective explanations that show numbers provide trust. In addition, trust and clarity less time chasing a problem. Finding problems faster means times savings. In sum, business intelligence for small c-store operators helps with labor shortage and overload.
Beyond, saving time there are more ways BI provides value. In thinking about it, consider the value of accurately knowing the answers to theses fundamental questions about your business (as well as how the answers are trending):
- Are you getting more customers?
- How many purchases were made?
- Which items were sold?
- Are you selling more or less each time?
- Is the store losing money to theft?
Small C-Stores Use Basic BI Now
Most operators are already dealing with parts of business intelligence. Typically, each operator has some simple check list or spreadsheet to make sure the deposits match and inventory is not missing. This simple approach is one that works and provides value every day. Imagine the impact you will realize to your c-store results.
While it may take a few tries to find the value, the very process of studying the data will most likely yield useful results. If you prove that your results are optimal you get the satisfaction of recognizing good work in action. If you find ways to improve you get the benefit of extra profits or more time handed back to you. Learning about your business from the objective view of your performance data will provide insights that will lead to improvements.
Obstacles to Data Analytics for BI
Fear and inertia often slow change. Getting started can be one of the hardest steps. Here are some simple things you can try to start your journey. Rather than debate about the value of Business Intelligence, we recommend a question. Why not start today? The worst thing that will happen is that you will waste a little time trying to learn something new about your business. Try one of these:
- Talk to your current vendors.
- Find one report you use and suggest one change.
- Lunch with a store manager and ask for an idea.
- Search on line for c-store performance ideas
- Talk to other owners and operators
- Sit in a webinar
The main thing is to get started . Tackle what seems to be hard just a little at a time. Start with something small. You will find yourself able to measure the results. You will learn more. With just a little new effort a job becomes easier. Continue with small steps. Subsequent steps will become obvious.