Strategies for Site Planning

There are factors to consider and much data to gather when assessing the right plan to build a new store. By John Matthews Real estate site selection can be a complex web of evaluating store attributes within a potential store trade area. The process utilizes both a science and an art to the overall selection

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Attracting and Retaining Top-Notch Talent

Hiring smart and communicating expectations effectively are two best practices that can reduce turnover. By John Matthews and Carrie Luxem Top quartile convenience store chains have recruiting and retention habits that give them a leg up on the competition. However, attracting and retaining top-notch talent does not happen overnight. It is critical for the manager

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Store Design for the Retail Environment

By John Matthews, founder and president, Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., and Kraig Kessel, co-founder, Kraido One of the most important challenges facing a retailer is creating a new store vision for your chain, while simultaneously running your day-to-day business. There are only so many resources to go around and carving out the strategic time to not

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Operationalizing Your Strategic Plan

We have all experienced it. The dreaded process of spending hours upon hours creating a strategic business plan that maps out the goals of the organization. We develop the targets and create lofty initiatives only to see the year come and go as we scratch our heads and wonder why we didn’t achieve all our

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Starting Your Own Consulting Business

John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises. Recently, I celebrated my ten-year anniversary as a management consultant. It has always been a life-long dream of mine to be on my own and in 2004 I realized that goal. I had spent some 20 years in corporate America prior to and breaking out on

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Developing A Retail Real Estate Strategy

By John Matthews, founder and president, Gray Cat Enterprises Organic growth by a retailer is an exciting time for the company. Reinvesting earnings into the expansion of their branded stores through new construction communicates that a) business has been good; b) by growing the network of stores through brand-new locations, it helps strengthen market share;

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Recognizing Your Best Customers

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises. Last month, I was participating in a client meeting and like most meetings that are lengthy, food is generally brought in and we eat/meet on the fly. This time we ordered a bunch of pizza and drinks to feed a group of 20 or so.

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Developing Open Communication With Your Vendor Partners

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Imagine a business world where resources were plentiful and industry expertise could be available at every juncture. Where decisions could be made that dovetailed alignment in support of your strategic plan throughout your networks. Imagine a world that anticipates your directives and assists in

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A Blog About Writing A Blog

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. About three years ago I began to publish a blog focused mainly on improving processes within small business. Many of these blogs are derived from having worked many years in larger organizations and attempting to translate those experiences to smaller businesses in the retail

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The Rubber Chicken Circuit

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd……Smiling” (Waters, Gilmour) Death. Not for the faint of heart, then again maybe that’s exactly what it is. Peer Rejection. Depression can set in very quickly when this occurs. Public Speaking? Actually in comparison, the first two don’t sound

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Multi-Unit Store Segmentation

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises. Multi-unit retail operators are often presented with challenges with their product assortment due to varying demographic and store configurations throughout their network of locations. Often, product assortment is standardized across all store types which leaves opportunities for niche marketing on the sidelines. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach,

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Building A Juggernaut Of A Team

By John Matthews, founder and president, Gray Cat Enterprises. Over my career – both in the corporate world and on my own – I have had the privilege of working with some fantastic and talented people. In most cases, I have learned more from them, than they probably learned from me. Surrounding yourself with talented

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Solving The Retail Investment Puzzle

By John Matthews, founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. You own a bunch of stores all varying in size and age. Over the years, product assortments and sets have come and gone and you have ridden certain designs into the ground. Each of your stores needs capital infusion – a refresher – but you do not know

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Vertically Integrating Your Brand Message

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc. The concept of vertically integrating your brand message is clearly not new. Companies for years have embraced the concept that if you are going to communicate a brand message, it is best to communicate that same brand message throughout all customer touch points. The

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Chasing The Shiny, New (Marketing) Object

By John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. I admit I like technology. I was one of the first adopters to laptops, mobile phones and social media. I remember joining LinkedIn when it had 3 million users – not the 200 million like it does today. Technology is a blessing

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Unleashing Your Inner Networker

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Come on, admit it. You wish you were a better networker. Fear not, it is time to unleash your inner networker. Networking is one part art and one part discipline and while there is more than one way to network, if your networking efforts

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Menu Simplification: Maintaining Your Focus

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Foodservice operators have long wrestled with the challenge of balancing the demand for increased menu options by customers with that of menu simplification. While a focus on systems and procedures at quick-service restaurants (QSR’s) still drive most operations, these are often at odds with growing

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Launching Your Gift Card Program

By John Matthews, founder and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Gift cards continue to grow leaps and bounds allowing retailers that have implemented a gift card program for their stores to reap vast benefits. In fact, total spending on gift cards in 2012 nearly reached $30 billion with around two-thirds of all American consumers having

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Marketing To Kids

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave, when they think that their children are naive.”  – Ogden Nash  Children have been marketed to for years. Retail industry titans have recognized that targeting children and winning their loyalty can carry on throughout their entire

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The Art of Execution

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Operational excellence is a retail buzzword that often gets glossed over. Retailers talk the talk, but often miss on walking the walk. Operational excellence has a singular focus: the customer. The customer is treated as a privilege, not a right, and their patronage needs

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Foodservice Brand Positioning: Focus on Clarity

Companies in growth mode are faced with an ongoing dilemma of keeping their expanding portfolio on plan with regard to their strategic branding direction. This is even more important when it comes to foodservice. By John Matthews, Contributing Editor Who are we?That is a question we hear all the time from companies that are trying

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Local Store Marketing: “Be” The News

By John Matthews, founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. What person knows the most about what is happening at your store? You! It is your responsibility to create news about your store — don’t wait for others to do this for you.  Being proactive with the local newspapers to generate news coverage on your store is an

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HELP! I Have To Deliver A Presentation!

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” — George Jessel What is it about public speaking that drives people nuts? Many studies have shown that given the choice of what registers

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Brand Positioning – The Semantic Differential

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. One of the most interesting activities that I have been involved with regarding branding is called a Semantic Differential exercise. As discussed in an earlier blog called “Brand Positioning – A Focus On Clarity“, it is essential to provide clarity for the brand. What that

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Strategic Market Analysis

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Last week, I sat through a meeting with one of my clients where we discussed the infamous question of  ”who are we?” that faces every retailer. As retailers grow – both in store count and in product diversity – the ongoing challenge is to keep

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