Making a Mountain Out Of — Fountain by Jim Callahan, Convenience Store Solutions

In my usual rush, I found myself in a long, but swiftly moving line at a fast-food restaurant recently. Having nothing better to do, I did a little observing and confirmed what I really already knew, but had just never taken the time to place in proper perspective.More…

What I saw was 10 of the 11 customers ahead of me all purchased a “combo meal” — fountain drink, fries and a sandwich. After finishing lunch, I sought out the store’s general manager, who confirmed that indeed more than 90% of their fast food sales are in combos!

It was not until a few years ago that I started taking fountain and combo sales at all seriously — that increased focus has led to measurably improved customer counts, store sales and profits — fountain combos have become a “business driver” for us! And while we might boast of larger fountain volumes than many convenience store chains, the fact remains that, both we and the industry at large are not doing nearly a good enough job of taking advantage of the inherent benefits that go hand in hand with selling fountain combos.

Today, more than ever, customers are demanding better value for their dollar. While the fast-food chains are literally “eating our lunch” during traditional meal times, in my opinion, the convenience store industry holds a good sized advantage in selling to the “afternoon/late night snacker!” It is an area worthy of much more attention than it receives — we need to both recognize and reward the afternoon/late night snacker, by providing them with the best and most attractive offering possible!

To help focus and enhance this “advantage”, we have cultivated relationships with chip, candy and cookie companies that are all extremely eager and grateful to be included in our “combo deals.” So much so, that we almost always are able to gain a temporary buying edge, just for featuring a product in our combo that they have a current focus on. This strategy drives Customer counts — provides larger cash register “ring” and returns a great margin — I like it!

Let me end by sharing a comment made by one of the “fast-food feeders”, I’ve done research with recently. He said, “Neither we nor our customers use the term ‘combo’ any longer.” He then went on to say, “We have changed the way the world orders food — our customers merely say ‘give me a #2, with a Diet Coke’ and with those few words, the meaning is crystal clear to everyone involved!” I REST MY CASE!

Jim Callahan, Convenience Store Solutions

1 Quail Run Drive, Newnan, GA 30265


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