Can’t Take the Trip Without a Road Map!

Running Convenience Stores is a long and exciting journey, albeit fraught with Pot Holes, Winding Roads and Stormy Weather. If you’ll stay the course, you will still find that a small pot of gold awaits you!More…

So tell me, what other long, rugged and expensive Trip would you make without using a “Road Map”?

Like any other Journey, having a “Plan” or “Road Map” is going to be the surest and best way to travel. You may not have had one when you first got into the business, but you can formulate one now! Ever notice how Spring Cataloges come out right after Christmas? That tells you that Sears, etc. are at least one full season ahead – they have a plan! The Big Boys also have budgets, but let’s start to piece a simple plan together. Here are some hints:

  • Take a calendar and circle all the Holidays and events for the 12 months – then localize them a bit – for instance July’s Bastille Day might be great for a marketer close to Canada, but not in Virginia.
  • Plan promotions around the ones major to your area – so many 4th of July promotions fizzle, because the area was not a Destination. A destination for the 4th of July is a Tourist, Camping area, Ocean or Lake setting. Most of us are Leaving points not Destinations – know the difference. Typically leaving points do well the day before and the day after the Holiday and are slow during the actual Holiday. Christmas is usually good in most areas – you’ve just go to be open to capitalize!
  • Require that your major vendors provide you with their quarterly (longer if you can get it) promotions and pricing schedule – work out details of signage, POP and special prices (make sure you have both “start” and “take down” dates for the promotion). Work this on your calendar plan. Favor Vendors who Partner with you – build your Team.
  • Don’t be afraid to have a “loss leader” (where legal) items like 12 pk soft drinks (limit the amount customer can purchase) – Loss Leaders drive Business – especially when they are promoted!
  • As the saying goes, “You’ve got to spend a little to make a little!” Be the only one in your area to have a decorated store (save and reuse). Make use of reader boards, Banners, and Pole Signs wherever possible. Place a great coupon offer (if it’s not great, don’t waste your $’s) in the local paper or shopper – CREATE EXCITEMENT!
  • Review the plan 10 days out and make sure you’ve covered all the bases. What good are hot dogs without the buns, etc.? Plenty of Ice and everything else that goes with the event!
  • EXECUTE: Have the cleanest, friendliest store, with the coldest beer in town. Have items that go with the promotion at the register – make sure your employees know and use Suggestive Selling Techniques!
  • Be the leader of your Band! Enthuse your Employees – make it fun – have a theme – offer incentives and recognition – does not have to be big.
  • Important – review your results after the event and make needed improvement.

This Trip is far too important to keep using Cruise Control – “Gentlemen (& Ladies) start your engines!”

Jim Callahan, Partner
Convenience Store Decisions
Jfcallahan502@msn.com

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