By David Bennett, Senior Editor
NACS 2015 continued Oct 13 with various education sessions meant to inform and explore. Many attendees packed the room to hear discussions from a session, titled, “The Psychology of Store Design.”
Joseph Bona, president of the retail division of CB X LLC, said more and more, retailers are turning to convenience store design that reflect sites that shout foodservice destinations—far different from traditional c-stores that offered a limited selection of snacks, drinks and roller grill hot dogs laid out as part of simple floor plans.
“(Then) we provided simple solutions that worked for decades,” Bona said. “Today, we’re seeing consumers with heightened expectations.
Today, Bona said, c-stores must entice customers from the street to the forecourt to inside, where foodservice offerings and how a store is designed to highlight those offerings are becoming more and more critical to a retailer’s success.
Not only does c-store have to be enticing, but authentic in in its presentation to heighten that customer experience, which can be further bolstered by technology such foodservice touch screens and mobile device engagement.
Sean Moriarty, retail director for Topaz, an Irish petroleum retail chain, agreed, saying the 340-store chain has been busy redesigning its stores that reflects its revamped foodservice program. The chain, which conducts one million customer transactions daily, has reengineered its foodservice program to incorporate more healthy offerings, and as result a fresher store design at several of it sites via its new Re.Store concept.
“We wanted to get into the healthy range,” Moriarty said.
Topaz is planning 72 store locations under the Re.Store flag in the next 18 months.
FOODSERVICE AND PROFITS
Foodservice continued to be the focal point in a NACS session called the Profitability of Food Service. During the session, Mark Rowan, vice president of foodservice operations and development for Pilot Flying J, explained to attendees how the c-tore and truck stop company transformed a modest foodservice program into a juggernaut that generated $700 million in food sales last year.
How Pilot got there took time, planning and much trial and error. However, c-stores that want quality foodservice must have the right employees, training and facilities to make it happen. Anything that falls short of that will surface quickly.
“At the end of the day, you have to be honest about your capabilities,” Rowan said.
Andy Scroggins, vice president of food and beverage for Brentwood, Tenn.-based MAPCO Express, conveyed the same thing, explaining that before the c-store launched its program, it asked some basic questions that all c-stores should consider.
“You get into the question: What type of food are you going to offer,” Scroggins said. Once a commitment is made, Scroggins said retailers must stick with their business plan, even if the profit margins aren’t decent at the beginning.
“There’s been a ton of people who have jumped into the business, then jumped out,” he said.
Rather, Scroggins offered some quick tips that c-stores can use for boosting their foodservice profitability, including:
- Be consistent in managing waste.
- Distinguish between cleaning and sanitizing.
- Become accustomed to prepping food.
- Understand your food costs.
- Understand what fresh is.
- Have employees that understand foodservice.