I recently read a great quote attributed to a one time door-to-door sales person and lately more recognizable as founder of the billion-dollar company that bears her name, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay Ash said, "Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe you can achieve."
The take for me is while there is no denying that the price of fuel is out of control, margins are all but nonexistent in many areas, credit card costs are unconscionable and the economy is currently in the Dumpster, the simple truth is that the situation is out of our control. You can cry about it, complain about the inherent unfairness of it all, or you can decide to make the most of it.
People continue to need fuel, they have to eat and have many other needs. Personally, I’ve just got to do a better job to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie—and I’m going to. And guess what? As I do a better job, the share I get for my companies will include a portion of someone else’s share that stopped to cry!
With this in mind, it’s now spring, the season where "hope springs eternal," the season where golfers embellish handicaps, fisherman tell tall tales and campers and travelers plan trips. It’s the prelude to a long, hot summer promising huge financial hydration and salty snack potential. It’s also the season that renews the spirit and refreshes hope in all of us.
The season gives an opportunity to work on those things we do have control over, the two most important being attitude and image. This is a time that we must truly see the glass as half full. Remember the very insightful one-line message delivered by a young worker in the Seattle Fish Market motivational tape: "We get to choose our attitude every day." That’s a powerful message we should all pause to ponder every day.
Show Off the Goods
Moving onto image, by the time this message is delivered, Easter will be but a memory, but the Memorial Day kickoff to a long, hot summer will be staring us square in the eye. Use this selling season to improve the image our customers see when they drive by and visit our stores. Don’t waste time. Be the very best you can be.
To review, begin with the appearance of your stores. Look at your units as if it was the first time you’ve ever seen them and ask yourself, "What is there about this store that would make me or anyone else decide to shop here?" Then set about making it a real simple decision for customers to make your store a destination. Things you can do to improve the image include:
• Beautify the site. Add fresh pine straw and flowers. Trim the shrubbery and grass.
• Stay clean. Sweep and power wash the building and walkways. Scrub the pumps and other outside equipment.
• Reduce clutter. Excess window and door signs or decals should be removed as well as any free booklets that may be offered.
• Use reader boards. Promote car wash or foodservice specials.
• Promote sharp employees. Clerks should be wearing a company uniform and name badge. Train them to smile, greet customers, suggestive sell and thank all customers.
• Make a good first impression. Waxed and buffed floors, spotless and well-equipped restrooms leave a long, indelible impression on consumers.
• Provide multiple services. From a fresh deli offering and fully-stocked shelves to ATMs and new products, give customers a reason to continue coming back to your stores.
• Offer a "can-do" attitude. When your employees stand out from your competitors, customers will embrace their spirit and reward you with more store visits.
• Believe, plan, lead and execute, but also have fun. The goal is to build a winning business model that leads the company into the future, not just a quick a sale.
Jim Callahan is marketing director for Geo. H. Green Oil Co. in Fairburn, Ga., and president of Convenience Store Solutions consulting. He can be reached at (678) 485 4773 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.