Following an extensive remodel of its c-stores, Clinton, Tenn.-based Git’N Go has worked to perfect its processes, including digitizing its menu to speed up the food-ordering process without sacrificing quality or freshness.
Founded in 1974 by Joe Hollingsworth, Git’N Go knew it was time for a complete revamp of its c-stores in 2016.
“We separated the foodservice area from the rest of the stores — higher-end floors, higher-end lighting above you, hard-surface countertops — to communicate to the consumer that we’re serious about food and clean,” said Git’N Go CEO William Baine. “Everything else has been foodservice, foodservice, foodservice.”
Baine said the update has been a hit with customers and brought a positive return on investment. The momentum toward modernization has only grown since the design update.
Git‘N Go offers a variety of foodservice, including biscuits, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, nachos, salads and chicken (to name a few), but since its inception, the company has been known primarily for its hot dogs.
Baine said the hot dogs are popular because they’re made to order, they’re reasonably priced and they taste good. For some customers, there’s an added element: nostalgia.
“We’ve been doing it for so long that, literally, people grew up eating them,” he said. “They move away, and they come back, and when they come back, they come back to eat them. … We try not to tinker too much with the hot dogs; we keep them the same.”
Most of Git’N Go’s foodservice, however, has changed significantly in the past few years.
Among its efforts to improve foodservice, Git‘N Go switched from frozen hamburgers to fresh meat, frozen egg patties to fresh eggs, frozen sub rolls from New York to fresh bread baked twice daily and fresh biscuits baked every hour.
With four locations in Clinton, Tenn., Git‘N Go’s small size serves as an advantage.
“If you have 300 stores, to have to manage fresh (food) is hard. But if you’re not that large, you can really create distance from your competitors with it,” said Baine.
Although Git‘N Go competes with both fast-casual restaurants and other convenience stores, foodservice sales have more than doubled in the six years he’s been with the company.
To differentiate, Git‘N Go is focusing on quality over quantity, really honing in on freshness and, whenever possible, incorporating local ingredients.
For example, Baine found a farmer in Sweetwater, Tenn., to supply the cheese for Git‘N Go’s burgers.
“It’s an artisan-level cheese that normally I could not afford in a c-store environment, but I cut out the middleman and talked to the farmer myself, and all of a sudden, I’m selling artisanal cheese in the store and putting that on my hamburger,” said Baine.
Fresh, made-to-order food may taste better and keep customers coming back. The challenge, Baine said, is that made-to-order food is slower.
“The consumer is more time-crunched than I thought,” he said. “They do appreciate good food, and they come back in again and again for good food, but a c-store is all about ‘in and out.’ … We really needed to move labor from taking orders to making food.”
Technology: Risks and Rewards
In order to streamline the ordering process and continue increasing sales without adding labor, Git‘N Go partnered with The Pinnacle Corp. to digitize its menu using the company’s Affiniti Cloud shopper engagement platform.
The result is a Git‘N Go-branded, integrated platform that includes a mobile app and kiosk ordering system.
The initiative began with a soft launch in February, first to corporate employees, then in-store employees, then employees’ friends. The official rollout began in July.
Baine said mobile orders have increased steadily and, three months after its launch, account for 6% of total sales.
The goal, he said, is to increase a percent every month and reach 20-50% of total sales.
Despite some lofty goals, Baine said he didn’t take the decision to digitize lightly.
“When we put in the kiosk, it went against our culture,” he said. “Our culture is to communicate with the customer. ‘Hey, Bob, you want your usual today?’ The kiosk puts a barrier to communication that we have to monitor.”
To combat this barrier, the company decided to use double-sided kiosks. One side of the kiosk faces the customer, and the other faces the employee.
“We’re not in a technologically advanced area; it’s still a smaller town. We’ll have older people who really don’t like computers. … There’s a button right at the side of the kiosk that tells a teammate, ‘Hey, someone wants to be talked to.’ And they manually take the order.”
Ultimately, digitizing was a risk Baine was willing to take — and one he expects to pay off.
“Convenience is changing,” he said. “It is very convenient to be able to tell a company, ‘I want this, and I want it now.’ That’s why Amazon is making so much money. … Even though we’re only a four-store chain, we’re trying to stay current and relevant.”