C-stores like Wawa and Tedeschi are meeting customer expectations with innovative food offerings.
By David Bennett, Senior Editor
Ed Burcher, principal and president of Burcher Consulting, has studied principles and developed strategies of how convenience stores can improve their foodservice programs that will appeal to customers’ changing tastes, and add to a company’s bottom line.
Burcher lent his expertise to a panel of industry experts brought together to examine how to execute a profitable deli and roller grill program at the 2014 National Advisory Group (NAG) Conference, hosted by Convenience Store Decisions.
Before rolling out a new foodservice offering, information gathering must be done, including soliciting customer feedback, Burcher said. Companies should test market the product and find if it’s going to be successful before making it a staple. He advised that leadership and staff have to align, so everyone has buy in.
“It’s about completeness,” Burcher said. “It’s about avoiding pitfalls.”
Joe Hamza, vice president of sales and marketing for Tedeschi Food Shops Inc., based in Rockland, Mass., has concentrated on building on Tedeschi’ s reputation for a foodservice program that boasts fresh offerings like sandwiches, salads and wraps at its 190 stores. With its proprietary brand, TD’s deli, the company has been expanding its repertoire to include lobster rolls, Indian dishes, and fresh sushi.
The result has been double digit increases in category sales the last few years.
“We do a lot of research on the backend to ensure we are serving the right food to the customers,” Hamza said.
Lynn Hochberg, director of product development for Wawa Inc., has seen the company expand its foodservice program significantly over several years, in store locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and now Florida. Wawa’s recent foray into Florida has been met with significant success as newly designed stores have been a showcase for a revamped menu where hoagies have replaced hot dogs, for starters.
After earning its title as an industry leader because of innovations such as touch screen ordering, Wawa decided to take its expanded menu south.
“Economically, it was the right time to invest in Florida,” Hochberg said.
Wawa’s new Florida stores feature reworked floor plans that emphasize new food selections like quesadillas , as well as outdoor seating for customers.