Growing Same-Store Sales in a tough Market by Jim Callahan, Convenience Store Solutions

So simple – so profitable – so what’s stopping you!

Unless you run an above average operation, you might just experience a sudden urge to stop reading, part way thru this article. I’m going to put the results toward the top to help, suppress that urge!More…

Our best store has a very well known, major price cutter located within a few hundred feet of it – was there when we built. Despite this and despite on average spotting them a 4-cent per gallon pricing edge, we continue to post fantastic growth numbers both inside and out.

Let me share: the store was opened in 2000, but comparisons are based against 2002, so as to be fair. I’ll also use gallons only to avoid any “inflation” arguments, but inside sales growth is also impressive.

2003 sales were up 3.9% vs. 02
2004 sales were up 10.5% vs. 02
2005 sales were up 20.3% vs. 02
2006 sales were up 32.2% vs. 02
2007 sales are up 46.4% YTD vs. 02

One more bit of fairness would be to tell you the entire geographic area has shown good growth, including two new c-store competitors. We have however, knowledge of three modern stores in the same general area that have lost volume over much of the same time period.

This than, begs the question: “WHAT’S THE BIG DIFFERENCE MAKER?”

The difference makers are: “CLEAN & FRIENDLY!” (not talking ’bout pretty Clean & often Friendly)

Yeah more than that goes into the total equation, but these clearly are the difference makers. In my more than 30 years in the business, I’ve become convinced, in both heart and mind that customers are absolutely willing to over look price if you give them a great shopping experience – indeed, the numbers back up the claim.

While Clean and Friendly are quite achievable, we all know they don’t just happen. WHY? Because, the majority of operators don’t really believe that Clean and Friendly translates to increased business! We know full well that dropping the price of Gasoline or Cigarettes is going to drive both Customer count and Sales. Indeed, many of us “Invest” in this type marketing – we see a direct “cause and effect” correlation that is not as readily seen with “Clean and Friendly.”

I admit that it’s much easier to implement this theory on a “New to Industry” store, but we can’t afford to ignore the investments that helped us pay the bills thus far.

In the near future, we’ll take on both “Clean” and “Friendly” – in the meantime, Try viewing your Operation thru the eyes of a first time Customer and your on your way!

Jim Callahan, Partner
Convenience Store Solutions



  1. Larry Bowling says:

    Due to implementing a solid Customer Service program 4&1/2 years ago, our stores on a same store basis have been up on inside sales vs previous year 49 out of the last 51 months.
    We know first hand the value of Customer Service, smart merchandising, and continual work on store appearance, as a huge weapon against all competitors in this war for the Customer.
    We also know that you must stress those things daily if you expect to see results. Too many times we see competitors who obviously have the mentality of saying it once and thinking it will happen, and we capitalize on those mistakes.

  2. That’s your tip o the day? clean and friendly?.. hahaha? this must be a joke

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