If you are a convenience store owner, then every day you are working to maximize the investment you have in your store or, if you own multiple stores, then all your stores. There is so much to work on it can be overwhelming. To begin with, we have to be concerned about sales and margins. What are the gas margins today and what is my cost? How much inventory should I be carrying in each of the stores, and do I have the right kind of inventory depending on the surrounding demographics of the store? Then there are the employees. Do we have enough employees and are the employees going to show up?
These are just a few of the issues that an owner of a convenience store faces on a daily basis.
But have you ever sat and really thought about what one item, if you took the time to focus on it, would help make you more profitable than the items I have listed already?
Well, having worked in the convenience store industry for over 24 years and being a business owner myself, I thought I had a good idea as to what was important, but I was missing the point.
Invest in Yourself
Let me set the scene for you to explain what the best investment is that you could make as a convenience store owner.
I am sitting in an IHOP restaurant with two successful convenience store owners. One is my seller, and one is my buyer. (Yes, believe it or not I have done more deals in IHOPS, Denny’s & Bob Evans restaurants than you can imagine, and that is because nobody wants me to go to their office where the employees would recognize me or the buyer). The conversation between the buyer and the seller is going very well as they both enjoy the industry, and both have a chain of profitable stores. When out of the blue my seller asks the buyer what one thing helped to make my buyer so successful.
Without hesitation my buyer said he makes a point to attend as many conferences as possible and immerses himself in the state associations of the convenience store industry. He always goes to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show. He attends state association meetings. He attended the National Advisory Group (NAG) conferences that are put on by CStore Decisions. He also joined a study group.
My buyer went on to say he learned a long time ago that if he was going to be successful, he needed to invest in himself and become the best he possibly could be in order to lead his team of people. He explained that he knew he didn’t know everything about the business — and the convenience store business changes daily — but he did know if he surrounded himself with other successful convenience store operators, they would share their knowledge and help to bring him and his business up to a new level.
Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? Surround yourself with other successful convenience store operators by attending conventions, conferences, state associations and engaging in a study group?
Being successful in the convenience store business is hard work, but it is possible by investing in yourself first. I know my client with the 60 plus convenience stores said it works for him. Maybe we should all take his advice and immerse ourselves in the industry and learn from those who have the knowledge to share.
Terry Monroe (www.terrymonroe.com) is the president and founder of American Business Brokers & Advisors and has been involved in the sale of more than 800 businesses. He serves as a consultant for business buyers and sellers throughout the nation.