Breakfast Is Driving C-Store Traffic

A well thought-out breakfast plan, tying all foodservice elements together, will lead to a well-executed roll out, fetch foot traffic and increase sales.

By CSD Staff

More and more, consumers are looking at convenience stores as morning destinations. This includes the growing demand for bakery products. In fact, studies show that about 29% of c-store traffic by occasion occurs during the breakfast/brunch rush. For pointers on how to build a breakfast/bakery combo, Chad Dewberry, merchandising manager, foodservice for McLane Co. shared with CSD some industry insights.

CSD: For convenience stores, how important is understanding the mindset of foodservice competitors, including limited-service restaurants and quick-service restaurants, when developing a breakfast program?
Chad Dewberry (CD): Understanding the mindset of foodservice competitors should be a focus of any convenience store operator. For a store to be competitive and gain an edge on the competition the operator needs to do their homework to determine what is already being done; what niches are being filled, where are there gaps in offerings and what price points are the consumers expecting? Overall, they must know what will and will not work in their area before they ever start a foodservice journey.

CSD: What is the biggest mistake some convenience stores make when developing a breakfast program?
CD: Understanding the commitment required to roll out a new daypart in your foodservice offering is a mistake for some convenience stores. Additional dayparts require additional labor, typically at least a few additional SKUs and new recipes to be executed. Ensuring training for quality and consistency are imperative to the success of a breakfast program.

CSD: What issues should convenience operators consider when developing a breakfast menu in their stores?
CD: When developing a breakfast menu, convenience operators need to understand where they are in their foodservice journey. By that I mean what can be executed perfectly in their current footprint, with the current labor and level of execution. If a store does not have prep areas the menu could not include made-to-order items without a large capital investment. Convenience operators need to consider their store employees when developing a menu. Is additional training required? Is there adequate labor allocated? If the labor required by your breakfast program results in a reduced focus on cleanliness or customer service, it can be detrimental to the store as a whole.

CSD: Quality, service, cleanliness and value [QSCV] are common objectives in a good foodservice program. Are these becoming even more important as more c-stores are expanding their own programs?
CD: Absolutely. We all know that Millennials look for products and places that provide a special experience. The environment in and around a convenience store is just as important as the products being served. For foodservice, this mindset goes even further regarding cleanliness. Not only the Millennials, but most consumers, won’t eat where they don’t have a comfort level with the environment’s sanitary practices.

CSD: More c-stores are expanding their bakery offerings. For those retailers looking to launch a bakery program, what are some factors they should consider beforehand?
CD: Bakery offerings have been a long time staple in the convenience industry, but the new focus on foodservice allows convenience stores to enter a ‘premium’ environment. Avoiding cannibalization of packaged bakery is important to the overall success of the bakery program. Their item mix should complement the community and provide a more indulgent/premium selection than the packaged bakery endcap that may already be in the store. There are great thaw-and-serve bulk programs out there to help increase register ring with limited labor.

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