Greg Parker, president and CEO of Parker’s, a nationally-recognized convenience store leader, was the keynote speaker at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Awards Luncheon held Wed., May 21, 2014 at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort.
Parker’s, headquartered in Savannah, Ga., currently has five convenience stores in Beaufort County, and will open its 6th store in June in the Beaufort/Port Royal area at 1705 Ribaut Road. This will be the company’s 35th store in its growing group.
In his talk, Parker highlighted seven business themes embraced by his company, which he credits in part with its success. He recommended that business owners.
• Create a Dashboard for Success. The Parker Cos. “worship data,” he explained. “We believe that success doesn’t just happen. When you make success measureable, you make it achievable.”
• Pay Attention to the Female Customer. “As with most direct consumer businesses, the female customer is the primary decision maker in the family, especially when it comes to her discretionary dollars and time,” he said. “I believe if you create retail environments that please women, you get everyone else in the process.”
• Cultivate Loyalty. “I truly believe one of the keys to our success at Parker’s is our emphasis on loyalty,” he explained, reinforced by the company’s signature PumpPalCard program, a debit card that passes savings back to the consumer of up to 10 cents a gallon by eliminating credit card processing fees.
• Create Effective Brand Image. “It’s important to understand your company’s identify,” said Parker. “What makes you unique? And, to have one master ‘look.’ Ultimately, your brand is your promise to your customer.”
• Parker’s embraces technology. The company uses technology “to deliver the ultimate customer experience,” said Parker, and it is a critical tool to maximize sales and create a sense of community around the company’s brands. “You can even use technology today to make sure that you’re on track as a leader or business executive,” he told the attendees, recommending online tools such as Lift, People Matter, Gallup’s Strengths Finder and the latest in apps technology.
• Giving Back is also a core belief of Parker’s. “I believe customers have a choice, and they want to support companies that give back,” he said. The company donates thousands of dollars to local public and private schools, and recently donated $1 million to support the Memorial Hospital Emergency & Trauma Unit, which is the region’s only Level One Trauma Unit serving 25 counties.
• Develop Your Team. Mr. Parker outlined how he has built a core leadership staff that has been with him for decades, but due to recent rapid growth has added a number of new directors onto his senior management team.
Parker concluded by talking about working together, encouraging the Hilton Head-Bluffton area and Savannah to think of themselves as one region. “I believe we will all be stronger if we work together and think about cooperation versus competition. I encourage you to think big.”
He also highlighted that he hears from local political leaders that sometimes “the Lowcountry lacks ‘political clout’ up in Columbia with the Legislature.”
“That lack of clout has affected a lack of funding for adequate roads between here and Savannah, a critical highway to further unite our metro area,” as one example, he said. He posed the possible need for a PAC or other strategies to bring more economic development dollars to the local counties.
Parker also encouraged both local officials, and the local business community, to work toward municipal and county governments that are more “customer friendly, more efficient and more responsive to both the businesses located here today, and those who are considering expanding into the Lowcountry. Together we can do so much more.”