While searching for the magic bullet to grow your business, don’t forget about the extensive pool of customers the competition is attracting.
I had the genuine great fortune of being hired, trained, nurtured and guided for several years by legendary NACS Hall of Fame member and wonderful friend, Robert E. “Bob” Seng. Many remember Bob by his trademark brightly colored jackets and great personality. I remember him as the best mentor a young person starting in this industry could ever wish for, but I digress.
Bob was a natural public speaker who regaled audiences from St. Louis to upstate New York with a speech called “Diamonds in Your Own Backyard.” He took the idea from the book “Acres of Diamonds” by Russell H. Conwell, which is a story with an ageless moral of a man who dreamed of finding riches and traveled the world for decades in search of a diamond mine. Exhausted, tired, broke and discouraged he returned home only to discover the diamonds he sought were right under his nose at the farm he had sold and left behind.
As I write this, the entire Southeast and indeed much if the U.S. is in a state of emergency from Hurricane Ike, with terminals strictly allocating motor fuels, pipelines down to a trickle, refineries battened down for stormy weather and c-stores down to tank bottoms. I’d say that qualifies for tough times and I’d venture to say that we would all like to find a diamond in the rough right about now.
You don’t suppose it’s possible that Mr. Conwell was trying to get us to read beyond the story, do you? Is there that slight chance that we might find that coveted and desperately needed diamond within our grasp in the very business we so flawlessly run every day?
I’ve reiterated many times that it is not so hard to say, “How about a lighter with those smokes?” There are many thousands of incremental sales dollars out there waiting to be picked up. Go get them!
Who among us is…
• Doing a good enough job with suggestive selling and the like? I’ve reiterated many times that it is not so hard to say, “How about a lighter with those smokes?” There are many thousands of incremental sales dollars out there waiting to be picked up. Go get them!
• Satisfied with the image their operation conveys? Polish that diamond until you need sunglasses to view it. That guarantees return business.
• Convinced their company still represents the very best in customer service? Set the example—demand, improve and reward excellence.
• Willing to go out to the street every day to attract more customers? There are many potential consumer groups not exactly beating down our doors. Sample and offer coupons in THEIR backyard. They’ll come back for more.
• Absolutely sure that their offering exceeds customers’ expectations? This is one goal we all must embrace.
I know a lot of this is not new, but you don’t suppose the character in Conwell’s book uttered “not much new here” as he exited his backyard?
It is indeed a hard business and getting harder, but it continues to reward excellence. As they say here in Georgia, “Go get you some!”
Jim Callahan has more than 40 years experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on
He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.