Picture this: Foodservice sales at your convenience stores were moving along nicely at the start of the year, but over the last few weeks, or even months, food sales began to fall flat or perhaps even behind last year. When food sales decline, getting back to basics and ensuring best practices are in place can send sales soaring once again.
Here are seven strategies for turning your food sales around.
1. Monitor Your Competition
Are you riding around and surveying your trade area, not only convenience, but fast food? Before you can tweak or improve your food offer (if needed), you’ll want to know the competition’s products, quality, pricing and promotions. What are they doing that may be siphoning off your customers? Are there opportunities to sell a food item that they are not providing or that you can improve on and do better?
2. Know Your Own Product
Is your quality commensurate with your pricing and comparable or better than the market? In your grab-and-go section, whether it’s proprietary or branded, be sure to test your holding times to ensure your offer is top quality up until you remove it from sale. How long is that doughnut fresh or that sausage biscuit hot? You first want to sell a great product, and secondarily achieve a longer shelf life. It’s an important balance.
3. Set Acceptable Everyday Pricing, With Strong Price Promotions
Depending on the item, do a ‘two-for’ as much as possible rather than reduce your single price. This allows you to sell two, instead of one, offering value to the customer, while reducing spoils and reaching more consumers if your buyer shares the second item. Think about bundling with multiple categories. For example, not everyone drinks coffee. How about a breakfast sandwich with either coffee or fountain for a hot price; or a slice of pizza with customers’ choice of coffee, fountain or water? If possible, check your sales information to see what sells most with each food item and suggest it.
4. Set Concrete Goals
Determine how many of each item you are selling, and your net gross profits. Then set goals for sales, movement and gross profits. If you are selling ‘x’ of an item and putting it on sale, how many must you now sell to achieve the same profitability? Measure your profit in pennies and dollars, rather than just percentages.
5. Remember, Employee Communication and Training are Key
Your entire team must know what the products, pricing and promotions are, when they are available and how to provide them. Run contests and rewards within your stores to drive food sales. Encourage employees to talk up your products and promotions.
6. Improve Communication With Customers
Food offers should be specific and meaningful, with the same singular message at pump, entrance and high-traffic areas of the store, such as the food area, fountain, coffee and coolers. Signage at the checkout and employees wearing buttons alert customers and give your team members help suggest ing and selling. Be aggressive on your social media platforms.
7. Sample, Sample, Sample
Sampling is the absolute best way to promote your product, get it into the mouths of customers and drive sales. When done correctly, there is no better strategy than sampling. But how can c-stores sample food products during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Follow all of your county guidelines and, if allowed, cut your product into pieces, wrap the sample and suggest it to customers. If it is a time-sensitive item, for example, a hot breakfast sandwich, be sure to time the product and monitor so that you are not selling cold, unappetizing items.
There are many specifics in each of these items to expand on to drive food sales and profitability at your convenience store.
Review them with your team and develop your own plan to take your foodservice sales to the next level.