At the NACS Show, NACS President and CEO Hank announced two bold initiatives – a new program to nurture and grow foodservice excellence among convenience retailers and a massive advocacy effort .
The opportunity to dramatically grow foodservice sales, which already account for nearly one in every seven dollars spent inside convenience stores, is almost unlimited, Armour said. To help retailers achieve their sales potential, NACS is launching the NACS Center for Achieving Foodservice Excellence, also known as the NACS CAFE.
“The NACS CAFE is designed to bring compelling value to both small companies just getting into foodservice and sophisticated retailers already in the business,” Armour said.
NACS CAFE, which debuts in early 2010, will provide certified training programs for foodservice managers, supervisors and corporate directors through a series of online computer-based training modules and on-campus educational programs, as well as through a Web-based resource center.
The second major initiative Armour announced is a NACS advocacy campaign that will integrate industry and consumer frustration over outrageous credit card interchange fees with congressional action.
“Successful political action requires two things: skillful lobbying on Capitol Hill and dramatic grassroots activity,” said Armour. “We now need to light grassroots fire around the country” and get customers to speak out over credit card interchange fees via a new NACS-sponsored petition campaign, similar to those that have already resulted in millions of signatures at 7-Eleven and Circle K stores, Armour told attendees.
“Between now and the second week of January, we want every convenience store in the U.S. to run an interchange fee petition drive,” said Armour. “Let’s overwhelm Congress with millions and millions of signatures demanding action to fix the broken credit card system. With tremendous consumer support combined with the well-drafted legislation we have moving on Capitol Hill, we strongly believe that 2010 will be the year in which interchange reform is achieved.”
Armour said that the new initiatives are developed with one goal in mind: “To create such compelling value [through knowledge, connections and advocacy] that membership in our organization is indispensable for your success.”
Citing another credit card issue - PCI compliance - Armour commented that the credit card companies have created another issue that is like “interchange all over again” by forcing mandates on the industry without the opportunity to productively engage in meaningful dialogue.
Armour stressed that NACS is committed to establishing that dialogue and is providing retailers with the tools necessary to secure their customer data, including a new computerized PCI compliance tool that will help members achieve full compliance.
In addition, Armour cited a host of connections opportunities that NACS continues to cultivate, including the popular Industry Update Luncheons and the new NACS Leadership Forum, which delivers top-to-top connections to convenience industry leaders.
In his overview of NACS advocacy efforts, Armour concluded that “with the new leadership in Congress, I don’t have to tell you that a new political reality exists in Washington. Never before have our products and operations been more targeted by new legislation” – including FDA regulation of tobacco products, health-care reform, cap and trade, renewable fuels mandates, menu labeling legislation, commodity speculation and card check.
“To succeed in this new reality involves much more than just protecting and defending your interests. Today it’s about building balanced relationships, relationships with key players in both parties – before bad policy is even considered.
“But we can’t do it alone. We can’t do it without you. We need your ideas. We need your voice. We need your engagement and we need your commitment,” said Armour. “With that, we will continue to deliver the compelling value that you expect from NACS.”