Growing Your Business Through Successful Dealers – Southern New England Energy Conference Monday, Sept 24 10:00 AM

Monday, Sep. 24: 10:00 am – 11:00 am 

Southern New England Energy Conference – Breakout Session

C-Store Performance for Jobbers – Growing Your Business Through Successful Dealers 

“C-Store Performance – The proven way to increase sales, simplify work and make time to grow.

Presented by BandyWorks CEO, Tom Bandy

If the dealers to whom you distribute fuel are successful, you’ll be successful too.  Individual c-stores will succeed if they are attractive to customers and do all the basics right.  But your dealers will also succeed if they grow through acquisition or through adding new stores organically.  But uncontrolled growth can also be a path to disaster, and this session will show there are distinct phases to multiple store growth, each with its own unique set of issues to overcome.

Who Should Attend?

  • Jobbers
  • C-Store Owners
  • Operations Directors, VP’s
  • District Managers

 

image of a pyramid show the 4 stages or levels of cstore performance maturity - Founding, Organizing, Growing adn Thriving

For more information, Southern New England Energy Conference Schedule

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C-Store Customer Survey Software Strengthens the Customer Experience

C-Store customer survey software strengthens the customer experience by collecting important customer feedback directly as they shop. It may take courage and patience, but who better than your customers know what they want? It can be painful to hear, but learning abut problems directly and quickly can save time and help you to keep customers coming back.

Blind Spots to C-Store Customer Experience

Of course, industries standards, your culture and your management accountability systems must be the main focus of your work. However, many systems and people have blind spots due to bias and limitations that allow mistakes or missed information to impact store performance. Gathering the right information from customers provides a perspective to be considered that is not biased on the goals of the company or staff.

Ideally, your c-store survey process is accurate simple, timely and unbiased. The easier it is for customers to use it the more likely they are to participate. Of course, easy may mean less data so interpretation may be harder. We must, however, not inconvenience our customers who are paying us for the convenience we provide.

A few items that c-store operators tell us are important when surveying customers:

C-Store Customer Survey Software – Important Stuff

  1. Make it quick
  2. Limit questions
  3. Do not get in the way of their shopping
  4. No pressure allowed
  5. Survey results are easily shared with managers and staff
  6. In-store surveys have higher participation
  7. Link to loyalty programs
  8. Use the data
  9. Accept bad news
  10. Provide analysis information so time of day helps to pinpoint solutions
  11. Establish norms so its easy to no when good or bad things are happening
  12. Try different questions, locations and methods of surveys

C-Store Performance- Related blogs and links

You may also like a related blog regarding The 4 Components to a Balanced Scorecard to Optimize Your C-Store Performance.

C-Store Customer Survey Software – Product Information.

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40593588 - calendar schedule board with hand collaboration plan board

C-Store Shift Planning – Getting Labor Hours Right

C-Store Shift Planning

C-store shift planning – getting labor hours right – is one of the most challenging jobs. Having the correct hours allocated by shift ensures you can maintain the customer experience while keeping costs in line with store sales. Getting the labor hours right is a key to ensure you have good operations with the labor costs that match the store sales when they happen. Too much – you hurt profits, too little – you risk bad service and lost sales.

Many companies perform c-store shift planning with a critical view of sales and customer count by hour. There is always need for cleaning and stocking, but scheduling the hours to match traffic allows the store to have the necessary staffing and keep the hours on track to hit performance goals. There are only so many hours available so it is key to assign them at the right time.

Key Data for C-Store Shift Planning:

  1. total sales and customers by hour
  2. same day comparison for several weeks to see trends
  3. day of week compared to other days
  4. average sale, discounts, loyalty
  5. inside versus outside traffic

The Right Labor Hours

With a good understanding of historical sales by the day of week and broken down by hour, shift labor can be scheduled to match the busy times. There are times when the registers will be the most busy and times when other tasks must be done. Together, a manager can utilize the hours to match the operational needs with the store sales.

Related Information – C-Store Operations Assessment

You may want to take an assessment of your C-Store operations It provides a written summary along with ideas for new things to consider: C-Store Performance Assessment.

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C-Store Managers – What Do You Need to Increase Sales?

We asked our best C-Store Managers – What Do You Need to Increase Sales?

We often work with top stores that already have great customer service, nice clean stores and top results. We expected to hear that they needed more money for new hires and bigger bonuses for increased sales results. We certainly heard about more money with a few of the responses. Everyone wants to hire good people and be rewarded for achieving good results. Good companies, however, already pay well.

What we heard the most may surprise you. We took the feedback from dozens of top managers over the course of several months of sales consulting. We watched and listened to what they needed to increase upselling and drive net profits. Perhaps more interesting was what we did not hear as the most important needs:

NOT On the Most Needed List

  1. More Money for Store Managers
  2. Loyalty Programs
  3. Better Locations

Clearly, the above items can help increase sales, but these store managers were focused on addressing what they thought they could control, yet did not cost a lot of money. That is, what things can they manage as a company that impact sales without hurting profits. So here are the top items they listed:

Top Items Store Managers Need to Increase Sales

  1. Cigarette Multi-Pack Discounts
  2. Better Promotions
  3. Gas Toppers that Drive Traffic Inside (e.g., Food)
  4. Ready to Eat Food Options
  5. Visits from Owners and Top Managers
  6. Bathrooms in Full Working Order

They brainstormed items and ranked the most important. They felt they could work with suppliers to use promotional money that was available to help their staff increase sales by providing high value to customers while maintaining the margins due to supplier incentives. Even signs can be provided by suppliers with new products or hot specials that matter to customers. Of course, food is such a big area these days. Maybe the most surprising was the simple things they wanted from top management – store visits and help with maintenance items. Their staff is much more likely to do just a little extra when they see their owners and managers in the store motivating them and keeping the store a nice place to be proud to work in.

Related Information – C-Store Operations Assessment

If you work on things like up-selling, you probably care a lot about C-Store Operations and Performance. Take a free assessment of your C-Store operations. You will receive a written summary along with ideas to try to make operations a little better: Rate Yourself – C-Store Performance Assessment.

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How C-Store Managers Get More Upselling

Upselling in C-Stores – Leaving the Comfort Zone

The biggest obstacle to consistent upselling is cashier reluctance or discomfort. Store managers consistently state that upselling works when done well. Many, however, argue that getting consistent upselling from cashiers is not an easy task.

Just like most things building a habit takes time and practice. Managers must be consistent with expectations and make sure the staff know how to do it. Once trained, however, the job of the manager is to ensure it is done.

Many argue that having a tool to measure upselling is a key. Such a tool can measure the results of upselling by looking at:

  1. Average Sale
  2. Sales of Promotional Items
  3. Sales with Multiple Items
  4. Sales with Discounts
  5. Customer Traffic – Upselling a Return Trip
  6. Total Sales

Getting over reluctance is an important part of training and practice. Most managers will agree that if you know a customer well, you will know how to upsell. For some, it is just having their regular item available or calling them by name. For others, they may just be too rushed or distracted to bother. Sometimes, a friendly smile is all you can do.

Despite all the valid reasons to hold back on an offer, there are so many valid reasons to provide an upsell. Making sure the customer knows you care and want their business is important. Making them feel respected and valued is critical.

Managers that drive upselling lead by example and show their staff with patience how to do it. There are some easy things that make upselling a little less stressful. For example, saving a customer money or offering a free item with the purchase can seem much less uncomfortable for a new cashier. Based on store manager feedback, here is a list of tips they suggest makes it easier for even the most reluctant c-store cashier to have success with upselling.

The Tips – How C-Store Managers Get More Upselling:

  1. Implement Cigarette Multipack and Loyalty Discounts
  2. Provide Promotions
  3. Include Healthy Snack Choices
  4. Have Dispenser Toppers To Drive Traffic Inside
  5. Provide Good Food Options
  6. Make Sure Bathrooms Are Clean and Refurbished
  7. Family Owners Should Visit Stores and Meet Staff

Reducing the Stress of Up-Selling

Having pride in your company and its offerings makes upselling an easier ‘ask’. Making it a team effort and using results to acknowledge (and sometimes reward) good efforts reinforces the desired behavior. Feeling part of the team and respected improves morale and makes a tough task just a little bit easier.

The best operators measure success. The big winners know accountability to expectations are key. The managers with low turnover and high sales master the delivery of training and oversight with patient persistence. They work with their supervision to provide the environment for successful C-Store Upselling.

Related Information – C-Store Operations Assessment

If you work on things like up-selling, you probably care a lot about C-Store Operations and Performance. Take a free assessment of your C-Store operations. You will receive a written summary along with ideas to try to make operations a little better: Rate Yourself – C-Store Performance Assessment.

Learn More

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing Is Key to Grow C-Stores

Time Is Limited

Steven Covey stated ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’ Kevin Kruse argued in his Forbes article that this practice has the power to change one’s life. For many C-Store managers the main thing is to grow. They are expected to keep the store running and growing. But there is an every-day struggle for many just to keep the store running as it is. So how can a store manager keep growth as the main thing?

Change Is Required

Growing a C-Store demands new things to happen (more customers, better upselling, improved interactions, etc.) Making things better by training your staff and improving the store appearance takes time away from the existing workload. There is a natural conflict between doing the existing work and trying to further develop people and systems. For many, ‘change while you go’ cannot be avoided if you want to also ‘grow while you go’. That is, we must keep the stores running and make improvements ‘as we go’.

Making Time Available

Since time is limited, focusing on the main thing each day is critical. One way to make time available is to eliminate low value work and only address those tasks that bring the highest value. That means, that we must choose the balance carefully:

  1. too much and we overload,
  2. too little and the customer or growth suffers.

Setting Priorities

Balancing the need for change with existing daily work is made easier by setting priorities. Identify which work items are the main things. Prioritize so work is sequenced from most important to least important. In this way, the work that is not done (i.e., not a main thing) is automatically the work that has the least value. Hence the very definition of productivity is met – replace less important work with higher value work. The key then is picking the right things- setting the C-Store Performance expectations.

Know the Priorities

Providing guidance through information, training and software makes it easier for managers choose and accomplish the most important work each day. A direct way to help achieve growth is providing the employee development and software so its easier to set priorities. How easy is it for your managers to know answers to key questions for your company, district or store? The less time spent finding answers the more time there is for implementing needed changes. For example:

  1. Same day sales – was it a good day compared to last year?
  2. Monthly sales – what are the trends?
  3. Top selling items – anything new selling?
  4. Items that are not selling at all – what happened?
  5. Customer feedback – what do they want so they come back?
  6. Communication – what feedback needs to be shared?
  7. Shift Duties – are all the shifts doing them completely?
  8. Shift Duties – any special training needed?
  9. Staff Development – are we engaging our customers?
  10. Staff Development – what inspections items failed?
  11. Store inspections – are the stores how they should be?
  12. Store inspections – are there specific areas that need improvement?
  13. Store maintenance items – is everything working?
  14. Store maintenance items – are my stores getting the support they need?

Focus – Knowing the Main Thing

If there is a place that the most important information can be found so that the manager is not wasting time gathering and sharing the information, then it becomes a quick check to decide what things need attention. Creating a list of the priorities that must be done makes work faster and even easier. Sometimes the hardest problem is just figuring out what to do first. So make it easy for yourself and your team. List the priorities. Keep the main thing the main thing.

For more information on C-Store Performance – Accountability

You may also want to read about our blog on C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work?

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Five Minute C-Store Expectations Plan

Great C-Store Expectations

There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Given the impact your store manager has on your store performance, many think helping them to choose daily work items wisely, is a key to success. Many use the five minute C-Store expectations plan to set priorities. It just takes a few minutes to assess the situation and make the right choices IF you have the right information available. If you only had five minutes a day to set C-Store expectations, what would you expect your store manager to consider?

The store manager is often considered the key to great store performance. They are the best people in the store to meet customer service expectations and understand the company plans. We want them to be spending time with the customers up-front. They must ensure that the staff know their jobs and the store is ready for business. Many say, the store manager is the most important part of C-Store Success. Steven Covey in his coaching in regards to the habits of highly successful people, stated ‘the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’

Given the importance of their job and the demands on their time, it is worrisome to assign more work. We want to streamline their jobs. They must be focused on the most important work – setting the C-Store expectations plan into action. What then is the best use of time and how does a store manager focus on the main things?

Five Minute C-Store Expectations Plan Considerations

  1. Same day sales – same day of week, last week or last year
  2. Monthly sales – year over year comparisons
  3. Categories that are going up or down compare to the same period last year
  4. Top selling items
  5. Items that are not selling at all
  6. Items that sold last week but are not selling this week
  7. Customer feedback on bathrooms, service and selection
  8. Store inspections
  9. Store maintenance items

Five Minute C-Store Expectations Plan – Make It Easy

If there is a place that the most important information can be found so that the manager is not spending time gathering the information, then it becomes a quick check to decide what things need attention. Creating a list of actions and getting them done becomes a short task each day and leads to success. Knowing where to find the answers is a big part of the job. Make is easy. Set great expectations.

Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

For more information on C-Store Performance – Accountability

You may also want to read about our blog on C-Store Operations – Keep It Simple – The Hard Work?

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C-Store Sales Facts – Thriving Now and Looking to the Future

C-Store Sales Facts are a useful way to search for ways to increase your sales. There are many trends that are noteworthy to watch. It is important to monitor them and consider your strategy to thrive in the future. Here are a few facts you may want to consider:

C-Store Sales Facts

  1. 80% of the fuel sold (gallons up 2.6% ) *1
  2. Inside sales up 3.2% *1
  3. Profits down 3.8% *1
  4. Average sales 3.5 million per store*2
  5. Range of sales from best to worst store is an order of magnitude (10 times more)*2
  6. Hot Beverages are key factor for higher sales*2
  7. Only 69% of of 18 years have a drivers license (down from 87% in 1983)*3
  8. US Retail trips down 2.1 billion in last 5 years) – ~17 fewer per household/year.*3

There are less shopping trips but more gas sales. Profits are getting squeezed. It may be time to work hard on your product sets. Ensuring that you make the most of each visitor and generate adequate products may be the most important challenge. It may not be enough to look at total sales. It may be time to analyze the product sales and the associated margins more carefully. The amount of money given for shelf space and promotions is a factor as well. There are only so many items you can carry and only so many customer visits. Getting the merchandising right is critical to maximize each visit.

If retail visits are declining, then it may be important to work harder to keep the best customers. The customer experience is something that every store can control. Cleanliness, inventory, attitude and service are all the result of store employee’s work. No one can control the trends of the world, but the cashier directly impacts the way the customer is treated when they visit your store.

C-Store Sales Facts – *Sources

  1. Convenience Stores Hit Record Sales in 2016
  2. What is the Average Gross Revenue of a Convenience Store?
  3. How US Convenience Stores Can Stay Ahead of the Retail Pack

C-Store Sales Facts – Related blogs and posts

You may also like a related blog regarding ‘Is Knowledge Power? Can It Drive C-Store Sales?’.

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Plan C-Store Manager Meetings for High Performance

Store manager meetings are a critical part of operations. It is hard to have a perfect meeting, but it needs to be well done since the cost of having all your store managers out of the store is substantial and demands a great return. High performance operations often use the store manager meeting as an integral part of the process and systematization efforts.

Here are some key meeting goals to consider as you plan:

Prepared

  • Everyone appreciates a well-organized meeting that uses time well and contains valuable information.

Interesting

  • Break the meeting into mini sessions (30 to 45 minutes each) and ensure presentations have visual aids and proper documentation for take-away review. A checklist to review during the coming week is very nice. A review of the checklist with the supervisor is even better.

Actionable

  • What are we to get from the meeting and do once we are done. Smart goals work here as well – specific, measurable, assigned to a person, realistic and time-bound.

Follow-up

  • Reminders and support – no matter how great the meeting, it is not easy to get to everything that needs to be covered. In addition, the crush of work can push the new ideas to the back. Reminders and follow-up are part of the job.

Fun

  • Change is hard. Make it fun. Have vendors provide food and gifts, make team-building exercises, award great work, and find ways to spotlight great effort and results.

Listen as well as instruct

  • If you want your team to perform, make sure you acknowledge and respond to their concerns. Not every problem can be solved on the fly, but don’t be afraid to tackle some during the meeting. Give them something specific to remember that applies to their personal situation. Encourage participation by providing positive responses to issues.
  • Explain the time and resources to implement the changes. Make sure they leave with confidence to try new things and with the safety of knowing they do not have to get it perfect the first time. Encourage change so improvement can occur.

Great store manager meetings end with enthusiasm and a commitment to achieve specific actions. The participants should feel energized and motivated. Such meetings often include awards for great results, prizes to keep everyone feeling appreciated, and some interesting management sessions – even games to stimulate new thinking. After all, the necessary part of improvement is changing behavior. It takes clarity, skills and motivation to try new things. Help them by preparing and executing a great meeting. The results will come.

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12 Signs You Need to Step-up Your C-Store Performance Management

C-store managers are constantly faced with urgent items that come up and interrupt what they’re doing, often right in the middle of a busy shift. If ignored, a small but real problem may fester and get worse. Without good information, the manager is more likely to misdiagnose the problem and come up with the wrong fix.

When good information is available to pinpoint the problem, the fix can quickly be identified and applied. Even better, if the manager can see a complete list of all the issues, they can prioritize and choose which ones should be fixed first. This creates a culture of proactive store management.

A few signs that store managers may need some help with their management process:

  1. Frequent calls to vendors for low inventory
  2. Long calls without good answers about inventory differences
  3. Too many overtime hours by a few workers
  4. Last minute compilation of training documents for ABC inspectors
  5. Mystery shopper anxiety or too many failed audits
  6. Too many nagging calls trying to find out when a pump will be fixed
  7. Store managers that complain that no one fixes their POS pricing
  8. HQ staff complaints that store managers exaggerate a problems into crises
  9. Bad inventory audits
  10. Broken or poorly operating machines or dispensers
  11. Too many holes on shelves or racks
  12. Dirty bathrooms

We love working with C-Stores to improve Store Performance. We help store managers work smarter and run more customer-ready stores. For more information on related topics check our blog – The 3 C’s That Define the Power of the Check List.

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