Developing a Customized Foodservice Menu

Testing New Products   As new products earn their way onto your menu don’t forget about the equipment.   “Let’s say you’ve got a roller grill and you’ve been selling hot dogs forever,” explained Larry Miller, president of Miller Management & Consulting Services Inc. in Sanford, Fla. “Now somebody brings you a handheld Mexican product,


Lighting the Way to Profitability

Lighters can be an afterthought. There are relatively few manufacturers, everyone merchandises them near the front counter, liability issues have cut down on cheap products and differentiation is only skin deep. But even given the limited number of companies supplying products, lighters produce an excellent margin—between 40% and 60%—and sales have been steady for the

Outlook Strong for Salty Snacks

The recession of the past couple of years has not swayed consumers from their salty snack habits. In almost every type of data, salty snacks continue to thrive. According to NACS’ 2010 State of the Industry report, convenience store salty snack sales climbed 3.4%, while margin dollars climbed 4.8%. Since 2007, sales of salty snacks

Elevating Snack Sales

The weak economy has not taken much of a bite out of meat snack sales. Americans are loathe to sacrifice edible indulgences, even in times of financial crisis. All three NACS snacks categories—salty, packaged sweet and alternative—showed increases in average sales per store from 2008 to 2009, and showed gross-margin percentage and average gross-margin-dollar-per-store gains.

Dispensed Beverage Sales Show Promise

Cold and frozen beverages continue to be a mainstay of the convenience store offering—something consumers expect, enjoy, and increasingly want to tailor to their own individual tastes. Others have noticed. McDonald’s, for example, is making smoothies and other cold beverages part of its strategy for expanding its beverage offerings. Beginning in March, the burger giant

Driving Car Wash Profits

Increasing profits at the car wash depends on two tasks: drawing new customers and tempting current customers to increase the frequency of their visits. Determining which tactics will best accomplish these feats is where it gets complicated. Tactics that are working for many in the industry include touting loyalty programs, embarking on water-saving initiatives, participating

Delivering the Goods

Winning Over CPG Customers   According to a new study commissioned by MEI Computer Technology Group Inc., there is an increased emphasis on improving trade promotion effectiveness, as consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers look to bolster the value and return on their trade spend, and capture wallet share from consumers.   Despite the current climate,

Is Your Land At Risk?

The question of eminent domain may sound scary and far fetched, but as a convenience store owner your land could in fact be seized by a municipality. It happens more than you think, said noted attorney William Goldman, who works with landowners facing this threat to ensure they get what they deserve. Goldman, and his

Superior Surveillance Helps Bolster the Bottom Line

In today’s difficult economy, most convenience store owners are turning their focus to profit driving initiatives to give business a boost. When dollars are tight, allotting extra funds to upgrade security equipment might seem a lower priority or even a frivolous expense, but experts note investing in security and surveillance measures can be a retailer’s

Today’s Top Snack Trends

The Food Channel has released its top 10 snack trends, one of its regular trend reports prepared in conjunction with CultureWaves, Mintel International and the International Food Futurists. “These trends are meant to inspire your back-to-school snacking,” said Kay Logsdon, editor-in-chief of The Food Channel. “But they also show how people are eating today, with

Cutting Down on Cooler Costs

Energy reduction remains an ongoing quest for convenience store operators as they look for ways to cut costs in an effort to improve their bottom lines. Building stores to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and seeking LEED certification is something more chains are pursuing, including Kum & Go, Kwik Trip and Quick

Food Sales Are On A Roll

Few things in life are easier than slapping together a sandwich. At home, that is. For c-store operators, operating a successful sandwich program is a complex matter that takes training, solid management, quality ingredients and, most of all, a commitment to a very different type of business than what they’re used to. Even then there

Shell Leaps into Loyalty

At a Glance: Shell’s Fuel Rewards Program   In an effort to bring value to its fuel customers and branded marketers, Shell Oil Products U.S., in July, launched its Grocery Rewards program with several of the nation’s largest supermarket brands in markets across the country. Customers earn one fuel point for every dollar spent at

Versatility Drives Pizza’s Popularity

Pizza Trends   There are approximately 62,000 pizzerias in the U.S. according to research firm Packaged Facts, with thousands of additional convenience stores and restaurants serving up fresh pizzas every day. And with good reason. Approximately 94% of the U.S. population eats pizza. More than three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year,

Meeting the Demand for Fresh Foods

Donna Sitka knows her way around convenience store foodservice. She is the foodservice manager for the 13 Tiger Tote Food Stores that have foodservice. Until recently that foodservice consisted of a successful fried chicken operation branded Mama’s Kitchen Fried Chicken and a failed Mexican food venture. The Gonzales, Texas chain of 23 stores, operated by

Sweetening Cigar Sales

Small filtered cigarellos represent a real albeit temporary opportunity for convenience stores to rack up sales, so get going before the window of opportunity slams shut. These diminutive cigars have gained strong appeal among smokers laboring to afford cigarettes in the wake of multiple tobacco tax hikes. The price differential between filtered cigars and cigarettes

Coffee’s Popularity Surges

You wouldn’t think something as simple as coffee could prove to be so complex a phenomenon—or one so indispensable to Americans. Turns out America can see its reflection in a cup of coffee—its economic worries, its desires for variety and small-scale luxury, and even its hopes for a brighter future. All of that swirls together

Maintaining Strong Energy Sales

It had to happen sometime. Energy drinks, arguably the most popular convenience store product in the early-to-middle years of the decade, have begun to slow their sharp rise. Call it a correction, perhaps. A report released last month on the category by research firm Mintel showed that while growth in the category from 2005-2010 was

Placement Strategy Helps Prepaid Prosper

As the U.S. economic recession continues, it’s no secret that customers are altering their shopping habits to save a few dollars wherever they can. The silver lining for convenience store retailers could be the resulting affinity credit-crunched customers have developed for the prepaid segment. In a credit weary and increasingly online world, prepaid is helping

The Keys to Cleanliness

How can you get your employees to excel at a part of the job they probably can’t stand—cleaning the store in general and the restrooms in particular? “It’s a good question, and a never-ending pursuit,” said Tony Bartys, vice president of retail operations and marketing for Valero Energy Corp. in San Antonio. “It’s a challenge,

Strengthening Safe Security

Cash control practices are an essential part of any c-store operation—from having a cash management system in place to training employees in proper security protocol in everyday cash handling and in the event of a robbery. But more often than not, it’s in-house theft that c-stores need to be most vigilant about. “If you have

Understanding Your Foodservice Customers

Now more than ever convenience store executives recognize that both survival and prosperity depend on their ability to adapt to changing customer preferences and the evolving business environment. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the changing role of convenience stores as a foodservice provider for budget-conscious, time-sensitive consumers that have scaled back on restaurant

Fresh from the Farm

Focus on the Franchise   Minimum Franchise Requirements: Net Worth: $750, 000; Liquid assets: $250, 000 Targeted growth areas: Swiss Farms is looking for single and multi-unit franchisees in the following counties: Northern Delaware: New Castle County; Eastern Pennsylvania: Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia County; New York: Nassau and Suffolk County; New Jersey: Camden,

Express Convenience Centers Comes of Age

At A Glance: Express Convenience Centers   Stores: 19 in the Fox Cities region of Wisconsin. Fuel: 17 proprietary-branded Excelerator stati ons and two BP stations. Leadership Team: • John Schmidt, President and CEO, U.S. Venture • Paul Sippl, Director of Branded Fuel Supply, U.S. Venture • Jim Anholzer, General Manager, Express Convenience Centers •

Planning Your Packaging Needs

With foodservice sales booming and more retailers making the leap to fresh foods, operators are turning their attention to take-out packaging and finding that, with all the options and considerations, choosing the proper packaging can be as tricky as selecting the foodservice program itself. “There are so many things to think about when you’re looking