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

Convenience on Campus

At a Glance: The University of Northern Colorado Located in Greeley, Colo., the University of Northern Colorado was founded in 1889. The university features students from 38 states and five countries. Other highlights include: • College nickname: The Bears. • A 2009 enrollment of 9,973 undergraduate and 2,175 graduate students. • Student population: 60% female,

Ethnic Fare Adds Foodservice Flair

Sushi in the c-store cooler? Burritos in the food warmer? Mediterranean sandwiches on the menu? Exotic foods are here to stay and becoming more mainstream, spicing up the foodservice section and appealing to a wide audience. With the growth of the Internet consumers today are exposed to new foods they may not be used to

Vying for Customers with Value Meals

McDonald’s has it. Dunkin’ Donuts has it. And if your c-store doesn’t have it, you’re likely losing customers to the QSR down the street. In 2010, featuring a value meal with your foodservice offering is essential to driving new customers through your doors and securing them as regular visitors.  C-stores with foodservice programs are facing

Tapping Into the Buying Power of Hispanic Customers

C-store executives charged with marketing to the Hispanic community may be chagrined to find that there is, when all is said and done, no Hispanic community. Instead, there are many Hispanic communities. According to Chicago-based Doyle Research Associates Inc., “Hispanics possess many cultural similarities like common language, Spaniard ancestry and common religion. On the other

Security by Force

Convenience store retailers are already dealing with tobacco taxes, PCI deadlines and encroaching competition. Now, if officials in Mesa, Ariz. get their way, operators within the city limits will be forced to invest in security measures aimed at reducing incidents of theft. The proposed mandate, aimed at convenience stores measuring less than 7,500 square feet,

The Economic Reality of Recruiting

Just 24 months ago, anyone who wanted a frontline, hourly worker’s job only needed a pulse to get hired. Now, we are faced with staggering unemployment, massive underemployment and tremendous job dissatisfaction. A new report releases from The Conference Board found that just 45% of workers in the U.S. were satisfied with their jobs, the

Lighting the Way

Best Practices for Reducing Operating Costs There is a lengthy list of general maintenance items retailers should have to maximize cooler efficiency. Jerry Lawson, national manager for Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Network, a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, recommended the following no-cost tips that are designed to help reduce

Preparing for the Fountain Wars

McDonald’s is preparing an aggressive summer promotion targeting core c-store customers. Another month, another challenge for convenience store operators. Where is the legendary Charles Atlas when the big bad bully tries to kick sand in our collective faces? As I’m sure you’ve heard by now this summer’s bully is, once again, McDonald’s. The hamburger chain

Enhancing POS Possibilities

With today’s modern technology solutions—and in an economy where every dollar counts—there’s no reason stores should endure employee theft. Thanks to advancements in integrated point-of-sale (POS) systems retailers are not only reducing shrink, but are able to reward customer loyalty in real time, speed up the foodservice line, upsell products to boost incremental sales and

Keeping C-Stores Secure

When he thinks of PCI compliance, Ed Freels, director of information systems for Honey Farms Inc. recalls an old t-shirt slogan from the 1970s, “It showed the AC130 gun ship from the Vietnam era and it said, ‘You can run, but you’ll just die tired,’ and PCI compliance is no different. The most dangerous merchant

Folk Oil Fights Hunger

Folk Oil’s PS Food Marts chain went to bat for hunger in Michigan and Ohio and raised more than $50,000 for local charities in just two short weeks. From March 15-31 PS Food Mart employees at the chain’s 29 stores encouraged customers and vendors to purchase paper hearts as part of its “Fight Hunger. Give

Pride & Perseverance

At a Glance: NOCO Express With 32 locations in Western New York and Rochester, NOCO Express is among the most recognized fuel brands in Western New York. The oil company has a 77-year history of providing fuel, lubricants and home heating oil to the market. Founded: 1933 Convenience Store and Fuel Brand: NOCO Express Jobber

Developing a Value Menu with Appeal

The coming of summer means a lot of things—chief among them an insatiable hunger for hot dogs, burgers, sausages and brats. No c-store foodservice program is complete without them or the opportunities they represent. “Who doesn’t like a hot dog?” said Kim Loniecki, director of branded foodservice for Wesco Inc. in Muskegon, Mich. “When you’re

Chicken’s Popularity Soars to New Heights

Americans want it, but lots of operators are nervous about it. That’s why working with distributors and training employees on how to handle chicken is so important. Consumers have very definitely stated preferences for chicken items, which is why chains like Wawa feature chicken prominently on their menus. For example, the Pennsylvania-based operator features chicken

Forecast Strong for Cigars

Amid all the chaos of legislation, regulation and taxation, it’s good to have tobacco category managers like Gate Petroleum’s Matt Hieb. Hieb’s approach to his chain’s market-leading cigar performance is calm and measured, driven by data, common sense and manufacturer promotions. In 225 locations throughout six southeastern states, Gate’s cigar offering exceeds the southeast market

Managing Tobacco’s Four Tier War

A Closer Look at Who’s Trading Down According to Mintel International, 80% of smokers polled said it’s worthwhile to have a quality cigarette, which is contributing to sales of premium cigarettes. Other factors influencing sales include: • 51% of smokers have one preferred brand they always like to buy. • Less than 2% of smokers

Seizing Smokeless Opportunities

Just when you think you know everything about the mercurial business of tobacco, a bit of trivia comes along that gets your attention. Distributors and retailers have had reams of information to study in the past two years as major changes in legislation, taxation and consumer habits have forced domino-effect adjustments. Manufacturers, chain executives, category

A Rocky Ride for RYO

Proper Handling Quality counts—especially with tobacco, something c-store operators had better keep in mind. Kevin Paige, owner of three Butthead’s Tobacco Emporiums in Danbury, Conn., said he is trying to distance himself from the c-store channel when it comes to tobacco. “Although I operated my own c-stores for over 20 years, I don’t think the

Empowered by Energy Efficiency

With energy costs soaring and customers rewarding sustainable behaviors, many convenience store chains are realizing the need to upgrade stores to be more energy efficient. World marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 44% from 2006 to 2030, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The increase could hit c-store retailers especially hard

Energizing a Crowded Cold Vault

Energy by the Numbers Although 2009 was the second year in a row of unusual weakness in liquid refreshment beverages’ performance, the worst may be over, said Michael Bellas, chairman and CEO of Beverage Marketing Corp. “Beverages are likely to be one of the first categories to benefit with a job-led economic recovery because they

Getting Back to Beer Basics

Beer continues to be an essential category for convenience stores and one that requires more than the usual amount of observation, knowledge, planning, execution and overall savvy. According to The Nielsen Co.:• Nearly 787 million cases of beer were sold in the c-store channel during 52-weeks ending March 6, 2010; down 1.5% from 799 million

PCI Compliance Requires a Full-Time Focus

The 12 Standards of PCI SSC Build and Maintain a Secure Network 1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect data. 2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters. Protect Cardholder Data 3. Protect stored cardholder data. 4. Encrypt transmissions of cardholder data and sensitive information across open public