By CSD Staff
Educational session continued this Tuesday at the annual National Advisory Group (NAG) Conference in Savannah, Ga. with foodservice.
The session, labeled “Drive-Throughs, LTO’s and P&Ls,” brought in experts from very different parts of the country to discuss some of the pertinent components of foodservice in the convenience store industry.
One of the talking points included how convenience stores are providing customers more foodservice options via drive-throughs and other speedier means that make it easier to accommodate patrons.
“How food is going to be delivered is going to vary, going forward,” said Nancy Caldarola, general manager for the Food Training Group and moderator for the session.
The topic rings true for Swiss Farms, which has 13 drive-through locations throughout the Philadelphia area of Delaware and Chester counties in Pennsylvania.
Scott Simon, who took over as president and CEO of Swiss Farms earlier this year, shared how he has shaped his company for the agenda, which includes a more significant commitment to employee training, and strategic planning and management. Another operational area that Simon is addressing is Swiss Farms’ foodservice program.
Accompanying Simon on the panel was John Schaninger, vice president of sales and marketing for QuickChek Corp., which operates 144 store locations in New Jersey and New York. Schaninger explained how its self-checkout program, launched in 2008 has now expanded to 37 stores. The c-store has enjoyed speedier check-out times at specific locations, in addition to another unexpected improvement.
“I thought shrink would go up, it actually went down,” Schaninger said, explaining that because of a lower number of transactions with cashiers at peak store times, the opportunity for employee theft had declined in certain instances.
Also at QuickChek, the chain launched a program this year that allows customers to order food via a mobile app and pick it up later.
Most know that seasonal offers make ideal limited time offers (LTOs). Swiss Farms is featuring LTOs via its array of smoothies.
“In October, we’re doing pumpkin smoothies,” Simon said.
Louisville, Ky. based-Thorntons, which operates 182 stores in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida, is growing its footprint based on a number of practices, including its Real Kitchen program, which is now available in more 30 locations. While that foodservice initiative is thriving, Thortons still draws customers with its successful LTOs, which have grown because of the company’s loyalty app, said Sarah Prorok, Thortons’ director of food and beverage.
PROFIT & LOSS
Since Simon came to Swiss Farms there has been a more stringent requirement from suppliers that prepared food offerings—as much as possible—be free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. Also, dairy products are free from hormones and antibiotics.
To further the health of the company, Simon is overseeing an overhaul of how the company is tracking the profits and losses tied to its foodservice program. He acknowledged that few store managers knew how to analyze a profits and loss (P&L) statement. That’s changing.
“Today, all of the stores have P&L accountability,” Simon said.
Since Thorntons began implementing the Real Kitchen platform a few years ago, fresh food sales have grown 142%. Comparably, 29% of total labor costs at the convenience chain are tied to food and beverage, according to Prorok.