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Grow Your Business By Word of Mouth

Inspiring your customers to share information on your chain comes from keeping your brand top of mind and tip of tongue with shoppers. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor Jonah Berger, author of “Contagious, Why Things Catch On,” has some important advice for retailers and advertisers alike on how to make your brand resonate with customers.

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Keeping Your Customers and Employees Safe

Security experts weigh in on how to solve crime problems and potentially dangerous situations before they start. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor Problem: Crime in your markets of operation is becoming a concern. Solution: Institute best practices in store security, from adding surveillance cameras, smart safe equipment and training all your employees on how to

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Boosting Sales With Store Cleanliness

Customers are more likely to make food purchases at an establishment they view as clean—and that goes double for the restrooms. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor Problem: Food sales are dropping despite having a world-class menu. Solution: Inspect store cleanliness. Its sanitation and bathrooms are as important to food sales as the food itself. Developing

Image: Shelves lay empty at a Wonder Bread Hostess Bakery Outlet in Glendale

Monitor, Measure and Manage to Prevent Store Out-of-Stocks

The competitive retail business dictates that retailers must keep their shelves stocked to drive new sales and repeat business. By Pate Pape, Contributing Editor Problem: Controlling out-of-stock situations. Solution: Using smarter technology systems can keep items on the shelves. Back before the widespread use of POS technology, managers of Flash Foods convenience stores would regularly

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Embracing a Healthier Menu

For convenience stores, healthy food offerings are creating a convergence of nutrition, foodservice solutions and profitability. By David Bennett, Senior Editor Problem: Customers want healthy,grab-and go-meal options.Solution: Add fresh cut fruits, yogurts and salads to the  menu. They’re quick, easy and appeal to a wide variety of customers. Also consider more wholesome ingredients like baked

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MST Offers Hope for Traditional Tobacco

MST sales remain strong, and analysts are calling for another solid year in 2014 despite regulatory efforts. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor While moist smokeless tobacco (MST) sales are projected to enjoy a strong 2014, possible government legislation and public health campaigns could converge to slow its momentum. To maximize sales now, industry proponents insist

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Growing the Dispensed Beverage Business

Whether it’s partnering with a buying group or negotiating a better contract on your own, fountain sales offer unprecedented profit potential. By Howard Riell, Associate Editor Getting the best price possible at the soda fountain can be crucial to a convenience store operator’s profitability. That is what executives at Phillips 66 had in mind recently

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Equipped for Foodservice Success

Green, clean and seen are three of the biggest innovations when it comes to preparing fresh foods fast and merchandising them to capture shoppers’ attention wherever they are in the store. By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, Associate Editor Gas pumps Today are far from the one-dimensional fuel systems used in 1955. So why do so many convenience

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C-Stores Face New SNAP Mandates

New federal rules could force some retailers to abandon the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program altogether. By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor The recently enacted Federal Farm Bill is requiring new “depth of stock” mandates for convenience stores involved in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly referred to as food stamps. With the Farm Bill

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Jiffy Mini Marts Passes the Torch

Karen Shroyer now helms the c-store business she grew up learning.   By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor After more than 35 years in the c-store business, Jim and Pat Fash, owners and founders of Jiffy Mini Marts Inc. retired in 2011, passing ownership of the family business down to their daughter Karen Shroyer, a member

Joe Sheetz

Joe Sheetz Takes Charge

In addition to being named president of the family-owned convenience store chain, Sheetz was named vice chairman of the NACS Research Committee. By John Lofstock, Editor While all retailers maintain a busy work schedule, Joe Sheetz has had a whirlwind six months.  In October, Sheetz formally advanced into the position of president and CEO for

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Opportunities Abound at the Car Wash

Increasing profits at the car wash depends on two tasks: drawing new customers and tempting current customers to increase the frequency of their visits, said Jim Callahan, director of marketing for Geo. H. Green Oil Co. in Atlanta. “To succeed with a car wash, you must be convinced that it is worth the effort. I

Convenience Store Sales Post Record Sales

U.S. convenience stores reached record in-store sales in 2013, with sales climbing 2.4% to $204 billion. Combined with motor fuels sales of $491.5 billion, overall convenience store sales were $695.5 billion, according to figures released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). The industry’s 2013 numbers were announced at the NACS State of

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Lighting Upgrades Drive Operations Efficiencies

NOCO Express, with 35 c-stores throughout Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., has been bringing its interior and exterior store lighting to the next level. In the three stores the chain has constructed over the last two years, NOCO has added compact fluorescent dimmable ceiling fixtures that are connected to a light-harvesting program. The buildings gain natural

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New Payment Systems Show Promise

When it comes to electronic payment systems, convenience and petroleum retailers have a definite need for speed. “You want to get people out of the lines as fast as possible,” said Rick Oglesby, senior analyst with Aite Group, a Boston-based research firm specializing in the financial services industry. “That’s what makes convenience stores so appealing.”

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Prepaid Cards Find Wide Appeal

Open loop, petroleum and in-store gift card sales were at $115 billion in 2012, according to Mercator Advisory Group, an independent organization that provides research and advisory services to the global payments and banking industries. This year, the category is expected to increase to $120 billion, then to $124 billion in 2014. And the growth

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Cash Management Begins with Best Practices

To prevent lost revenues from internal theft, retailers will be looking to advanced technology for more effective ways to monitor their stores, said Ted Roccagli, retail marketing manager/business coach at Mansfield Oil, which serves more than 300 convenience stores throughout the country. Mansfield is recommending video surveillance equipment that interfaces with POS and connects with

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Cultivating a Loyal Audience

Loyalty programs were once value-added perks. Today, consumers not only expect them, but they also demand good deals. Indeed, an attractive loyalty program can sway a consumer away from a competitor with lower gas prices. “Over the last 10 years, particularly the last three, loyalty programs are playing a large role,” said Pat Lewis, president

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Expanding Point-of-Sale Potential

Increasingly, a good point-of-sale (POS) system must play well with others. Not only should it integrate well with other software platforms, such as business intelligence software, but it must also be easy to deploy, easy to use and easy to enhance. Many POS platforms are embracing standardization that allows them to integrate with existing software

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Lighters Lead Tobacco Accessories

As turbulent as the tobacco business has been in recent years, accessories, such as lighters, have remained calm and consistent, if not a bright spot on the front counter for most convenience store chains. “This is one of the most profitable parts of the business,” said Tariq Khan, CEO of Sentar Oil Inc., a four-store

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Cigarettes Continue to Draw Customers

Under fire now for more than a decade, cigarettes remain among the most important in-store categories in convenience stores. Cigarettes, along with other tobacco products (OTP), combined to account for 40.7% of in-store sales, according to the 2013 NACS State of the Industry Report. However, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), cigarette sales in the

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Optimism for RYO Tobacco

Roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco will continue to put convenience store operators to the test over the next couple of years—enduring the ongoing legislative assault on all tobacco products while continuing to carry it to provide greater variety and service to loyal consumers. “Roll-your-own tobacco is important for those retailers that are creating a ‘destination stop’ for

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Smokeless Tobacco Still Dominates OTP

The smokeless tobacco category continued its upward trajectory in 2013 thanks to ongoing manufacturer promotions and a growing customer interest in alternative tobacco products to supplement their smoking habits. Manufacturers are capitalizing on the strong sales demand by introducing more products in an array of flavors. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 20, 2014, the

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E-Cigarette Sales Set to Surge in 2014

Even though e-cigarette category dollar sales started 2014 with slight deceleration, growth is expected to remain “robust” going forward, according to Wells Fargo Securities. The convenience store channel saw $45.2 million in sales over the four weeks ended Jan. 18, 2014, plus e-cigs accounted for another $12.4 million in national, cross-outlet markets. “This implies about

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Growing Cigar Sales

Not much has been predictable about the tobacco category over the past 18 months. Huge tax increases have renewed questions about just how much money smokers are willing to invest in their habit, and whether cigarette smokers would merely switch their nicotine fixes to other tobacco products, such as cigars. Amid the upheaval, the cigar

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