Packaged sandwiches are a hot seller in the grab-and-go section of convenience stores. Growing sales in this segment requires attention to best practices.
Ed Kashouty, the owner of Lakewood Exxon in Lakewood N.J., who has been selling packaged sandwiches in his stores for more than 25 years, advised sticking to the basics.
“Investigate and research your area customers, as far as ethnicity, religious, practices and food preferences. What works in some area may not work in another place. Clean your store and specially the area where you want the food to be displayed, and keep it super clean,” he advised.
Ensuring the sandwiches are fresh is a key consideration. “Remove all leftover sandwiches and don’t even offer them at discount,” he said.
Kashouty also recommended offering special pricing for a mix of sandwich, drink and chips, a bundle deal customers love.
Investing in employee training can boost your sales ability. “A confident employee who answers questions with confidence is more likely has a triple chance to make the sale,” he said.
Kashouty also suggested finding a nearby company that is known for the quality of its food offerings and having it provide fresh sandwiches daily.
Labels, Wrap and More
“If using handwritten labels, consider moving to a label printing solution if for no other reason than branding,” suggested Meghan Mattern, advertising and social media manager for Baltimore, Md.-based Carroll Motor Fuels’ High’s chain, which operates 54 stores. “There are many solutions available, from the affordable to the most expensive options. For many years we have used the I-print from ICC (Integrated Controls Corp.), they have been affordable and most importantly, dependable.”
C-stores displaying hot sandwiches in a grab-and-go format should discontinue the use of aluminum-foil wrap and boxes that do not have any eye appeal, Mattern continued. Her stores use a food-grade clear wrap. “It not only shows the product beautifully, but also retains moisture and holds the product much hotter than a box.”
If preparing sandwiches in-store, Mattern recommended retailers ensure their food and paper cost goes no higher than 35%.
“Keep your food cost models updated at least quarterly and raise your retails whenever possible,” she said.
Before raising retails as costs go up, she added, always check all of your competitors’ regular menu pricing.
“Due to waste incurred in a grab-and-go program, staying on top of your food cost and margins is a must,” Mattern said. “The more volatile the products’ costs from your suppliers, the more you must monitor the competitors’ pricing for opportunities to get the pennies back.”