New Year, New Challenges

With 2009 approaching, let patience be your guide to achieve personal and professional goals.

As we usher in a new year, let patience be your guide to achieve personal and professional goals.

What if you suddenly found out that your slate could be pretty much wiped clean and most all of the tactical mistakes made could disappear? What if you could be convinced that you were going to be given a golden opportunity to correct some flaws that have hindered your success a bit?

As you’re reading this, we’re just a few weeks away from a new year. The year 2008 and all the trials and tribulations that came along with it will become history. 

The question we as retailers have to ask ourselves is twofold: Will we take advantage of the opportunity that comes to us on Jan. 1? Is there a plan in place or under consideration to make things better? 

A clear, concise strategy should be your guide to fulfilling many personal and professional goals in 2009. This is important to stay on track and accomplish not only what is expected of you, but enable you to push yourself and your team to achieve great things. I wrote in one of my first blogs: “What other long and challenging journey would you make without having a road map plotted out?”

Let me share some things I hope to improve upon in the new year and see if you can identify with them.

• Develop a more serious sense of urgency when it comes to increasing business.

• Prepare a full year’s calendar of events to build promotions around.

• Involve our suppliers more in developing the marketing strategies and promotions.

• Better utilize the first and last 15 minutes of each day to accomplish more.

• Broaden our customer base by viewing our stores “through child-like eyes.”

• Spend more time on cashier training and employee retention. This is an absolute must for all chains looking to stay competitive.

• Do a better job of involving employees by asking for their ideas and thoughts on operational issues.

• Have managers away from the store visiting nearby offices and construction sites handing out coupons and food samples.

• Use velocity reports to replace slow-moving products with more promising SKU’s.

• Continue to develop and earn that elusive “friendliest store” identity by providing outstanding customer service.

• Observe each store as if it was the first time I had seen it.

• Learn more by being a better listener (I’m already too good a talker!)

• Achieve new successes by being more patient. 


Staying Focused

We know patience is a virtue, surely a virtue that God has not yet granted me and one I need to continue to develop. There are many benefits to be had (and mistakes that can be avoided) by having patience. For example, as the proud new owner of a traffic summons for running through a yellow caution light (don’t red and yellow look so much alike these days?), I should have had the patience to slow down and wait my turn to proceed.

And how about the large grocery chain that demonstrated patience during two years of abominable fuel margins, but was then rewarded by the best four months of fuel margins that I’ve seen since 1973? We’re talking about building a war chest of millions by staying patient, sticking with the program and having the courage to see it through to the end.

We can all agree that it’s important to be more patient not just with those whom we come in contact with at work, but the trifecta: our family and friends and our closest confidants. 

My best wishes to you for health, success and good fortune in 2009. Let’s achieve some enviable new milestones in both work and life this year.

Jim Callahan has more than 40 years experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at


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