A True Up and Comer

LIKE A LOT OF people in the industry, Terry Johnson, director
of marketing for Chester, Va.-based Uppy’s/Southside
Oil, got his start by working the cash register at a local
c-store while earning his business degree. Soon after graduation,
Johnson became a store manager, the fi rst step toward
his 30-year career in the business.

Johnson, who always had interest in working in the retail fi eld,
has held a variety of positions in the c-store market. Aside from
working as a cashier and store manager, he’s also supervised
multiple stores as well as his current director of marketing position
that he’s held for 14 years at various companies.

“I always wanted to be in business,” said Johnson. “I enjoyed
my time as a store manager, but I’ve really found my niche in the
director of marketing position. I’ve had the option of going back
to the operations side of things, but I enjoy what I do now and
I’m good at it.”

Johnson has worked for five different c-store companies
throughout his career, and has been involved in a number of
projects. One of the most elaborate and challenging projects
he’s completed at previous stores includes implementing scanning
and loyalty programs.

“Those types of programs are very important to companies
these days,” said Johnson. “There are so many benefi ts that come
with the information that can be gained from that data. It’s an
important part of growing gross margins and retaining frequent
customers.”

While he has yet to bring in those systems to Uppy’s—a chain
with a total of 90 dealer- and corporate-owned stores in Virginia—
they are in the cards, but must be considered carefully due to the
diffi culty that comes with implementing them.

“Those projects rely on a lot of different employees and factors
to be implemented smoothly,” he added. Uppy’s is now poised to
implement a scanning program in the near future, with a loyalty
program closely following.

While the scanning and loyalty programs may take some
time for Johnson to complete, he’s already made a difference
during his fi rst year at Uppy’s by delivering a tried and true program
he developed called “The Seven Steps to Selling More
Stuff.” Seven Steps is an effective tool Johnson preaches to store
managers to checklist all the important paths that lead to better
sales.

The steps, which reinforce important practices like
having products properly stocked and displayed to
enhance convenience, Johnson admits, are basic yet essential.

“The seven steps aren’t anything Earth-shattering,” said
Johnson, “but when you’re dealing with multiple store managers,
it’s important that they’re all on the same page and using the
best methods they can to sell more products.”

Johnson has offered bonuses and incentives to managers
who properly follow the steps. The extra incentive pushes the
managers to follow the Seven Steps religiously, resulting in a double-
digit percent inside sales increase across the board since the
steps were introduced.

Suggestive selling, another of Johnson’s Seven Steps, has
made a particular difference in premium cigarette sales. When
he arrived at Uppy’s, Johnson brought with him a cigarette promotion
deal: buying two packs of premium cigarette brands
gives the customer a 60-cent discount on the total sale.

“It’s an easy way for the cashier to suggestive sell to a cigarette
customer,” said Johnson. “The customer is going to need to
get another pack of cigarettes sooner or later, so our discount
program gives them a reason to buy them from us.” Since introducing
the offer, cigarette sales have risen twice as fast as the
rest of the inside sales, he added.

Despite all of his other successes in the position, one of
Johnson’s favorite parts of the job is his involvement and interaction
with vendors, such as McLane.

“My philosophy for handling vendors is simple: I treat them
as I’d like to be treated, and McLane treats me how I like to be
treated,” he said. With all his vendors, Johnson makes sure there
is an even give-and-take relationship so everyone fl ourishes. “I like
to be fi rm but fair, and I think you get the most cooperation
from vendors when they genuinely want to give
it to you.”

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