“The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.” — John Harvey-Jones
Truer words have never been spoken.
Honing your skills in a multi-faceted retail environment is important but adding the myriad of COVID-19 challenges and mastering business acumen in all parts of the business is essential. Between operations, merchandising, marketing and facility upkeep, retail business owners have their hands full. But the management of all these retail details allows for what is extremely beneficial — taking care of the customer.
Retail Insights (https://retailinsightsedu.com/) is an excellent way to get hands-on training and tips to better manage your convenience store location. Our educational modules are designed to help educate, inspire and provide a resource for learning “tricks of the trade” by seasoned professionals.
This isn’t about theory but rather learning proven techniques to drive sales, reduce costs or improve processes. Each of these modules are built by pragmatists and designed for boots-on-the-ground operators.
Here are the key categories and modules:
Asset Management — With every new launch, rollouts become increasingly problematic and a burden for the facility. Getting your arms around your facilities in an organized fashion is critical for the multi-unit operator. From capital management to maintaining a store-by-store database, this category of modules helps you manage the physical aspects of your locations.
Brand Management — When you have a strong brand image it is because your brand is well managed. You can command a higher perceived value for your products and services. Customers are prone to purchase by recognition when they know your brand. You can differentiate from your competitors and provide a reason to buy and a reason to believe. A strong brand builds credibility and loyalty, which leads to repeat visits and purchases as well as having a customer base that acts as “brand ambassadors” and helps spread the good word about your brand.
Foodservice — A successful food service program can enhance the overall c-store experience for your customers, in addition to driving incremental traffic to your location. With pre-packaged convenience product items, your c-store competition essentially carries the exact same product line as you do. Oftentimes the only difference between you and your competitors is price. With a foodservice program– be it branded or proprietary – your c-store’s identity can help separate you from your competition. Most important, food service is a very effective way to add to your bottom line since many foodservice products are produced on-site, meaning your cost of goods are substantially lower and your gross profits higher compared to your core convenience products.
Marketing & Promotions — Prudent retailers know marketing captures the entire customer base in the critical three-mile radius surrounding their store. Successful retailers effectively infuse their year-long promotional campaigns with local marketing, building a strong sales foundation for sustained and long-term growth. Marketing is a “must” to fully capitalize on the sales potential of your store. Successfully capturing these customers will translate into both short- and long-term sales growth, in addition to effectively locking out your competition. The sales success of your store depends on you proactively going after sales using marketing, instead of passively waiting for customers to find you.
Merchandising — By guiding the customer through your store with their favorite products that are easily accessible, the retailer has an excellent opportunity to turn merchandise inventory more quickly and thus increase profits. Failing to provide the top products due to out-of-stocks or through cluttered merchandising – alongside their corresponding complementary products – will frustrate potential customers. Many retailers simply “stack it high and let it fly” without considering the nuances of proper merchandising.
Money Management — It finds the “found” money. Why pay the phone company for the wrong mobile plan? Or do you have the correct size dumpster at your location? Can you identify why labor is up in your market or are you lacking the correct metrics? Each of these modules tighten up your business processes that find additional dollars to fall to the bottom-line. Our team of experts does this for a living — let them find the missing pennies for you.
Operational Excellence — Retail operations is all about process management so that it allows for what is extremely beneficial – taking care of the customer. I am sure many have experienced the situation where you walk into a retail store and employees are too busy with “operational items” to help a customer. That shows a lack of pre-planning and operational execution that should have been completed well in advance of a customer walking into the store. Being operationally excellent is about developing systems and procedures to address all the little details of running your store — many of which are transparent to the customer.
Site Assessment — Complicating the site assessment process is generally a lack of an evaluation tool that can be used for all departments that are a part of the decision-making process. This evaluation tool should address all the components of the site — customer interface, demographics, location, build-out costs, landlord terms, a financial Proforma, etc. — to provide a complete assessment of the property.
Store Design & Layout — Customers will want to come to a store that is well designed and has an optimized layout. It is appealing and makes it easier for the shopper. This leads to higher average ticket sales as well as more customer throughput. When the store is designed so that it creates an “experience,” customers will go out of their way to come to your store. Customers will prefer your store experience when comparison shopping with your competitors.
Our goal is to give you guidance through virtual presentations or by providing one-on-one consultation and/or project management. With roughly 50+ modules slated to be in the queue, we hope that we can help add value to your area of need.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning, project management and interim general management firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 25 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written “Game-Changing Strategies for Retailers.” In addition, he has two step-by-step manuals, “Local Store Marketing for Retailers” and “How to Stage a Killer Grand Opening!” All are available on Amazon.