Rutter’s Rises as Chain of the Year

Outstanding leadership, great stores and unsurpassed customer service are the hallmarks of the convenience store industry’s exceptional chains. Following these guiding principles, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to announce Rutter’s Farm Stores as the 2010 Convenience Store Chain of the Year.

Rutter’s, which supplants Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes as Chain of the Year, is the 21st winner of this prestigious award, considered the gold standard in convenience retailing.

Like Nice N Easy, Rutter’s is the second consecutive chain under 100 stores to receive the award, emphasizing that it’s not the size of the chain that matters, rather the quality of its offering.

Geographically, the 54-store chain has never strayed far from its York, Pa., roots. Yet, its evolution from small town player to industry leader has impacted the way the industry does business, especially in the areas of foodservice and technology.

“We are still a family-run business so we do things a little more cautiously than some others, but we’re not afraid to take risks,” said Scott Hartman, the third-generation president and CEO of Rutter’s Farm Stores told CSD. “For us, the emphasis has been on doing things right and meeting the needs of our customers. If we do a good job doing that, expansion will take care of itself.”

Under the leadership of Hartman and venerable industry veterans like Jeff Leedy, senior vice president of marketing for Rutter’s and Jerry Weiner, Rutter’s vice president of foodservice, the company rolled out a c-store prototype that boasts a modern design, open ceilings, extensive use of floor and wall tiles, bathrooms with floating ceilings that cost about $60,000 to design, music and other upscale accents. The design is environmentally friendly, including a white roof to keep the building cooler while reducing energy demand.

The new design also features Rutter’s latest foodservice offerings, including custom stir fry, fajitas and fresh-baked breads.

On the technology side, Rutter’s continues to push the envelope with its cutting-edge loyalty program and new mobile applications for the iPhone and the BlackBerry that allow customers to use and scan coupons directly from their mobile devices. “Consumers are more mobile than ever,” Hartman said, “and Rutter’s wants to be right there with them.”

For his part, Hartman has emerged as an industry leader, serving as chairman of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in 2007, chairman of the Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards (PCATS) in 2005, as well as membership on the boards of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants and the Pennsylvania Responsible Tobacco Retail Sales Certification Program.

Rutter’s will be feted at an exclusive dinner on Oct. 6 in Atlanta during the NACS Show. Seating is extremely limited so contact me directly at jlofstock@csdecisions.com to reserve your spot for this special occasion.

Clarification:
The following comments in the June issue of Convenience Store Decisions should have been attributed to Drew Mize, vice president of product management and marketing for The Pinnacle Corp.

Among the common PCI myths with c-store retailers is that a chain’s technology provider will make the necessary steps to make its stores complaint. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Your technology provider is a good source for information, but should not be thought of as the magic cure. Any technology provider that has gone through a formal PCI audit for the technology it is selling should have at least one certified PCI auditor it can recommend to you. If it can’t do this, start asking the hard questions. You pay the fines and penalties if a breach occurs, not your technology provider,” Mize said.

The point-of-sale solution is a central component to payment transactions, but a whole slew of other devices must be considered. “Dispenser card readers, ATMs, PIN pads, routers, firewalls, wireless networks and the USB port on your back-office PC are among some of the devices required to pass a compliance audit. And don’t forget about the home office: databases, LANs, WANs and even the box of credit card numbers that accounting has on their desk for local accounts,” Mize said. All are subject to compliance standards.

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