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Local Store Marketing: Chamber of Commerce

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Joining and becoming active in your local chamber of commerce is an excellent way to increase your store’s visibility within your local business area.  In addition to meeting a number of key local business contacts who can turn into group sales and individual patrons

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Small Business Management

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Running a small business has its share of ups and downs. When I launched Gray Cat Enterprises nearly nine years ago, running my own small business has been both rewarding and challenging. Gray Cat has enabled me to establish greater balance in my life

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Self-Service Kiosks

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Self-service kiosks continue to be a growing trend in retailing and is expected to accelerate over the years.  By the end of 2012, nearly 2 million self-serve kiosks will be in place, and savvy retailers should consider capitalizing on this trend.  This exploding industry

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Local Store Marketing: Employee Recognition

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Looking for a way to invigorate your store staff and sales? Employee peer recognition is often more influential among your workers than achieving actual prizes or monetary rewards.  Developing ongoing peer recognition programs will keep your employees excited about their jobs and their enthusiasm

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Know Thy Customer….Or At Least Be Able to Reach Them!

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. The conversation usually starts like this: “So, do you know your customer?” “Of course, I know my customers, most by name.” “Great, let’s communicate to them that you have a sale this weekend.” “[cricket sounds]” Call me a pragmatist, but this is a typical

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Embracing the Lipstick Theory

When times are tough, customers substitute bigger purchases for more inexpensive, feel-good items. By Jim Callahan. According to economists the lipstick theory works like this. You’re in the store, checking out some new gear. Then you check your finances and think, “No, better not.” You buy a new lipstick instead. The theory is that if

A Night to Remember for Team Tedeschi

In front of nearly 300 convenience store industry retailers and suppliers, Peter Tedeschi, president and CEO of Tedeschi Food Shops, accepted Convenience Store Decisions’ 2012 Convenience Store Chain of the Year award at a banquet in Las Vegas. Tedeschi is CSD’s 23rd Chain of the Year winner, the oldest and most prestigious award offered in

Driving Retail Opportunities

The NACS Show is my annual reminder of just how much innovation exists among the many talented retailers and suppliers I communicate with every day. I expect this year’s NACS Show to be one of the most interesting I’ve ever attended. While the event has so much to offer, retailers can’t lose sight of the

Chains Worth Watching

Despite the global recession, convenience stores have thrived thanks to their ability to provide fast service, quality products and great value in strategic locations. As service and location remain the industry’s primary competitive advantage over supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, many of whom are moving into the fuel and fresh food business, convenience stores

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Local Store Marketing: Customer Appreciation Days

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Customer Appreciation Days are excellent ways to attract consumers that have similar backgrounds or interests. Honoring your best customers with a distinctive recognition day is a terrific way to create a “call-to-action” for specific selected groups.  Whether it is for school personnel or administrative

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Relocating A Store

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. The lease is up at your existing location, and the new center down the street is happening. The thought of relocating your business is daunting—when will you find the time and will you lose customers? An important decision faces your brand—do you relocate your

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The Importance of Making a Great First Impression

Something as simple a smile and a “thank you” goes a long way in elevating the customer service experience. By Jim Callahan. The saying goes, and I so agree, that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.In the business world, when you are expected to be a leader, this is something

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Merchandising! Merchandising!

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs the T-shirt. Spaceballs the lunchbox. Spaceballs the coloring book. Spaceballs… the flamethrower! Kids love it. And my favorite, Spaceballs the Doll — me!” — Yogurt from the movie Spaceballs Merchandising is a critical aspect

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Managing A Retail Real Estate Portfolio

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. For the multi-unit operator, managing a retail real estate portfolio is tricky business. Keeping winning stores in tip-top condition—both physically and financially—is the key to long-term success. The best multi-unit operators actively prune their portfolios in a proactive way and overtime, minimize the organization from becoming

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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

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