Duchess Shoppes Gets A Makeover

Prototype design by Big Red Rooster.

CSD’s 2012 Foodservice Makeover winner gets help from a panel on experts on how to grow its foodservice operation.

By: Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

Convenience Store Decisions revealed the Englefield Oil Co. Duchess Shoppes preliminary Foodservice Makeover results during a session at the NACS Show in Las Vegas.

The 2012 Convenience Store Decisions’ Foodservice Makeover contest was developed to help one lucky convenience store chain take its foodservice offering to the next level.  Englefield Oil Co., operator of 126 Duchess Shoppes convenience stores in Ohio and West Virginia beat out 70 entries from companies of all sizes throughout the U.S. to be named the 2012 Foodservice Makeover winner this summer.

“Englefield Oil has always understood the importance of a great food program. We have grown very much over the last four decades and have had much success with our current program. However, we are ready to take it to the next level. We want to continue to build our Duchess Shoppe brand by marketing our proprietary program and ultimately becoming a food destination for customers,” said Ashley Englefield, division manager and third-generation family member.

After Englefield Oil was announced as the winner, Convenience Store Decisions brought in a range of leading experts, including Big Red Rooster, an award-winning design firm; John Matthews of Grey Cat Enterprises, who evaluates and refines foodservice strategies and operations; and Convevo Partners, which utilizes technology to market and grow foodservice sales. Customer perceptions before and after the foodservice makeover were recorded and analyzed as part of CSD‘s exclusive partnership with MSA and Paradigm Sample’s Convenience Consumer Insights Panel (cciPanel).

During the NACS session, Editorial Director and Editor-In-Chief of Convenience Store Decisions Group, John Lofstock, presented the makeover team of leading experts, who explained to a packed room of interested retailers, how they advised Englefield on taking its foodservice to the next level. The panel speakers included Big Red Roosters’ Senior Vice President Stephen Quinn and Director and Creative Strategist Douglas Burdick,  Suzy Silliman, Senior Managing Director Management Science Associates (MSA), Sima Vasa President and CFO Paradigm Sample and Greg Ehrlich, president Convevo Partners.

Lofstock explained that Englefield was a prime candidate for the makeover with an already strong foodservice presence at its stores, including four Taco Bell’s, two Subway sandwich shops and one Long John Silver’s. Fresh sandwiches are also prepared onsite and offered at 104 locations. The coffee program is branded under the Crown Café banner and featured at all 126 stores. A 4,000-square-foot prototype store introduced in 2008 serves as the model for all future stores.

Marketing In The 21st Century
Key recommendations from Gray Cat Enterprises tackled six different areas of Englefield’s operation: 1. Overall Business Planning, 2. Operational Excellence, 3. Merchandising & In-Store Promotion, 4. Local Store Marketing & Advertising, 5. Key Performance Indicators and 6. Vendor Management & Purchasing.

One of the key findings during the examination was that Duchess Shoppes was missing key emerging opportunities to gain customers using new technology and social media. Convevo Partners helped Duchess improve and expand its use of technology to market its foodservice programs, including one free year of Convevo’s Digital Deal text marketing solution.

“What we recommend to this channel is to start small and get good at a couple of things. Pick one that’s mobile and inexpensive— which is text marketing—and the other place to start is Facebook,” said Ehrlich. “And the key to making any of these programs successful is the signage you have at the stores driving customers to these platforms.”

Duchess had a head start. It had already implemented text marketing and Facebook, so Convevo helped the company improve its technology performance. In September Duchess linked its loyalty program to its Facebook site, and also worked to better market its foodservice offering on social media. Duchess also realized its former Website was too broad—incorporating the entire Englefield business from wholesale to lubricants to c-stores. The chain is currently working on a Website specifically for its Duchess Shoppes, where it will call out call out information on its loyalty program, it’s store offerings and also link to its Facebook page.

Customer Perceptions
MSA and Paradigm Sample collaborated to conduct exclusive customer intercepts using their cci panel to ascertain customer perceptions and attitudes towards the chain’s foodservice programs and shopping experience, both before and after the makeover. The team selected four Duchess stores that represented a range of store formats and demographics, and captured shopper insights from in-store traffic, as well as Duchess Shoppe’s Facebook page, and leveraged mobile, PC and in-store intercepts for the three weeks ended Aug. 22, 2012.

Feedback from Duchess Shoppe’s frequent shoppers showed 83% of respondents visit at least once a week, while 38% visit at least once a day. According to these shoppers, freshness and appeal, taste and cleanliness were three the most important attributes in spurring decisions to buy fresh/hot or cold foods. Duchess received “excellent” ratings from 55-64% of buyers on the three most important attributes. Duchess also received “better” ratings compared to other c-stores from 55-67% of buyers on these three most important attributes. Sandwiches made on-premise (68%) and items earning fuel rewards (66%) earned the greatest share of “better” ratings. Breakfast foods, salads and pizza were the top three desired foods by customers.

Key takeaways for Duchess included close gaps to achieve higher degree of “excellent” ratings, particularly on top three most important attributes to its buyers mentioned above. Some of the advice Duchess received was to implement messaging to emphasize “sandwiches made on premises” to differentiate from competitors; to evaluate the potential for expanding offerings to include breakfast foods, salads and yogurt; and to consider testing a variety of combination deals and items to include as part of fuel rewards, among other suggestions.

Brand Identity
Big Red Rooster next conducted a SWOT analysis to determine Duchess’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and used that knowledge to redesign Duchess’ foodservice identity, graphics and in-store experience, including its logo, to create a dynamic in-store experience.

Duchess’ strengths included foodservice knowledge, cleanliness, strong, seasoned management, adaptive / will to act, improving technology leverage, brand reputation, ready for reinvestment.  Weaknesses included a tired, unattractive presentation at some stores, a lack of consistent training, inconsistent replenishment, unclear branding / image awareness.

Opportunities existed in branding, defining and positioning as well as in expand foodservice options, pricing consistent training, leveraging technology (e.g. loyalty, mobile, social media) and business intelligence / metrics planning / management tools.

Threats involved a danger of becoming stagnant and maintaining status quo, rebranded competition, higher costs, 2nd tier pricing competitors (grocery/partner fuel discounts) and a continued recession.

Big Red Rooster helped Duchess call out its foodservice brand—Duchess Made Daily—to complement the Duchess Shoppe brand. It aimed to help Duchess develop a foodservice identity that was relevant, distinctive, functional, graphic, simple in message, timeless and memorable to consumers.

To further convey this message, the company chose a black and white logo to help elevate the perception of the foodservice brand without overwhelming the actual store brand. Inside the store, Big Red Rooster also helped Duchess maximize store flow, and also move away from graphic overload and instead achieve a more elegant store appearance. It wrapped fixtures in wood tones, and also used black on fixtures and signage to tie together with the black equipment used throughout the store. LED soft lighting was used to frame the beer cave along with the image of bubbling beer. Similarly an image of fresh coffee beans acts as a backdrop to the coffee bar, and a similar concept helped separate the beverage section.

The next step in the Foodservice Makeover Project now involves actual physical  implementation at the store level. The design concept will be further refined, material selections will be determined, vendors will be brought in to help Duchess realize the rebranding within the store environment, steps will be made to drive down costs and the prototype will be built. Once the prototype is up and running, the MSA and Paradigm Sample will be on hand to test and evaluate its success. Stay tuned to CSD for more to come on the Duchess Shoppes’ Duchess Made Daily makeover.




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