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Facility Management

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. It was the situation that everyone dreads. Out of the blue, the anxiety-filled request was made—the CEO had summoned me to his office. Thoughts raced through my head—mostly bad thoughts, mind you—of why I was being asked to join him and the COO in an impromptu

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Local Store Marketing: The Business Traveler

By, John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Ah, the glamour of business travel. The security lines, the $8 airport beers, the ongoing game of “how much can I stuff in an overhead bin,” all for the privilege of boarding a bus with wings. Well, this week I passed a milepost of

Dealing with the Long Arm of Government

The onslaught continues. It never ceases to amaze me that why, in these trying economic times, lawmakers insist on introducing legislation that costs retailers sales opportunities. Virtually every chain I’ve covered over the past 15-plus years in this industry has counted on earnings and profits to reinvest in the business. That means buying more real

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Keeping the C-Store Safe and Secure

Employee safety requires a strong training program and commitment from everyone in the company. Store security is an issue that we all take extremely seriously. There must be procedures in place for all employees and managers to follow, and they must be followed to the letter. No exceptions. A couple of stories illustrate and reinforce

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Time Management

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises. “……And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun…..”   — Gilmour, Mason, Waters, Wright What is the quickest way to reduce stress and achieve greater balance in your life?  Develop better time

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Connecting With Your Customers

Maximizing time spent right in your own stores is an investment that always pays off. By Jim Callahan. One of the common traits among top quartile chains is that we all invest a lot of hours in our businesses. For all of us, there is a finite number of hours that we can work and

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Vendor Management

By John Matthews, founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. Aligning your vendors to a common business vision is a daunting task. In many cases, vendors for retail outlets number in the hundreds, if not thousands. How is it expected of the retailer to manage all of them? The key is to take control and focus the vendors

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Local Store Marketing: Charities

By John Matthews, Founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. Some of the local store marketing strategies that I have highlighted over the past year are designed to increase awareness and sales for your brand, others because it’s the right thing to do. Working with charities over a period of time enables you to give back to the

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Business Planning, Part II

By John Matthews, Founder, Gray Cat Enterprises Recently, I had a terrific session with one of my clients on business planning.  I have written articles before on the importance of business planning, but this session resonated with me. What was reinforced to me during our meeting is that no matter how you approach business planning,

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“If It Were Your Money…….”

By John Matthews, Founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. Back in my twenties, I worked for a growing pizza chain, Little Caesar Enterprises, with a career that spanned nearly a decade. Little Caesars, at the time I joined was a 1,300-store, $700 million company and over the first five years of my stint there, had grown to

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Doing Deli the Right Way

Convenience store operators have plenty of help when it comes to investing in a foodservice program. By Jim Callahan. I recently read that China’s convenience stores are experiencing double-digit growth in deli sales primarily driven by hot dog sales. But let’s be frank, nobody does hot dogs better than Americans. From the quality of the

Embracing the Changing Retail Environment

Back in 1997 I had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Thomas, the founder of the Wendy’s chain to interview him about his retail strategy. One of the first things he said to me was, “You know why our hamburgers are square? Because we don’t cut corners.” Over the past decade many things have

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G & A Budgeting

John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Hurry, hurry, step right up! It is time to play the game called “G & A Budgeting.” This is the game where heads are counted; budgets are sandbagged and perks are justified. It is an annual ritual that becomes a core tenet in the over

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Local Store Marketing: Retail-To-Retail Bouncebacks

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Budgets are tight, but you need to move top line sales—fast! What is a quick and easy way to expand your customer base? Partnering with noncompeting retailers to help your broaden exposure is a simple, yet terrific local store marketing idea. By crafting a

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Creating A Branding Game Plan

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. What is your branding game plan? Not the branding media schedule—that is just part of it—but rather, your overarching strategic decision-making game plan on all of your branding initiatives? Most advertising managers have a page or two media plan that an agency has produced

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Inspiring a Solid Work Ethic

Consider this an open letter to the young men and women that work in our stores. If you want to advance, don’t let your bosses out work you. By Jim Callahan. Did you ever wonder how older co-workers keep going long after many of their younger cohorts seem to have worn down and out?  I’m

Inspiring Leadership in Those Around You

Master Chief Petty Officer David A. Lindenberger. He is the toughest man I’ve ever met. As the senior enlisted man aboard the submarine USS Providence during my time in the Navy, he was known simply as Chief of the Boat or the COB. He wasn’t a particularly big man, maybe an iron fist taller than

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Local Store Marketing: Overcoming Retail Wallpaper

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Ever drive down the road and out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of a 20-foot pink gorilla in a bathing suit on top of a store? That is a retailer attempting to overcome what I call the “retail wallpaper

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The 1980s Las Vegas Turnaround… and Lessons for C-Store Operators

Widen your customer base and change your surroundings.  By David Hochman, owner of DJH Marketing Communications Inc. For the first 30 years or so, casinos in Las Vegas thrived, raking in obscene profits simply because options for legal gambling in the U.S. were few, far and in-between. Things started to get a bit more difficult for the casinos

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Creating An Advertising Plan

By John Matthews, president of Gray Cat Enterprises. As you have probably gathered from reading my other articles, I am a firm believer in planning for success. Whether it is operational excellence, de-branding a store or outlining your procedures and policies, prudent planning creates stronger execution and efficiency. While planning may come second nature to

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Creating A Policy And Procedure Handbook

By John Matthews, president of Gray Cat Enterprises. “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”   – from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As a small business owner, you may wonder why one would need to get organized from a policy and

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Redrawing the Battle Lines

Separating nicotine from cigarettes and smoking could open new doors for tobacco. By Lou Maiellano. Imagine a natural ingredient so promising and intriguing that it is being clinically evaluated to address a variety of illnesses and conditions, including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Tourette syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety. Think about it, an ingredient that would

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Strengthening the Leadership Chain

When it comes to attracting and maintaining repeat customers, a convenience store is only as strong as its weakest link. By Jim Callahan. In Thomas Reid’s Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man he wrote that, “in every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the

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Managing Technology Within An Organization

“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” — From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions.

Lessons in Retail Leadership

Despite fast-changing customer expectations, shortened product and retail life cycles and rapid technological advancements, many retailers have not taken advantage of opportunities to innovate. By applying new perspectives to established ways of doing business, convenience store retailers can strengthen their competitive and financial positions, improve the customer experience and create a new life cycle of

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