Building Profits and Relationships

The 2011 NAG Conference in Savannah, Ga. offered timely retail solutions and outstanding networking opportunities.

By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

Retailers and suppliers joined together at the Westin Hotel and Resort in Savannah, Ga. for four days of strategic educational sessions and networking as part of the 2011 National Advisory Group (NAG) Conference.

This year’s NAG conference, which caters to small and mid-sized c-store chains, kicked off with a round of information exchanges where attendees met with small groups of non-competing chains to discuss relevant business issues to learn what they could be doing better to enhance their operations. Topics ranged from streamlining distribution operations, identifying real estate opportunities and the broader implications of the nation’s ongoing economic crises at retail.

Burning Issues
Following group discussions, NAG delved into the emerging issues retailers are facing, including unionization, the Food and Drug Administration’s control of tobacco products and menu labeling and complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

Jeffrey Usher, founder of Reed Consulting in Matthews, N.C., struck a cord with attendees when he spoke on current labor laws regarding union organizing, the changes in rules and regulations occurring within the NLRB and Department of Labor and establishing a strategy plan for maintaining positive employee relations at a time when unions are increasingly reaching out to c-store employees. He encouraged employers to consider putting contingency plans in place in order to be able to respond to organizing attempts and especially a shortened election timeframe.

M. Bradley Gaskins, principal for the McIntosh Group, discussed how retailers could ensure their c-stores are ADA compliant and what the consequences are if they are not. For retailers not in compliance, Gaskins recommended taking care of the most high risk areas immediately: accessibility, signage, ensuring front door clearance and accessible sales counters.

Gaskins also recommended that all retailers immediately erect signs throughout the store instructing customers that need assistance to contact an employee. “This serves as a defense to show that you are trying to comply with the laws if you should be cited for noncompliance,” Gaskins said.

For more than two decades, NAG has prided itself on the networking opportunities that it affords its members and 2011 was no different. This year’s events included a golf outing, NAG’s celebrated Pow Wow room and a River Boat cruise.

Attendees also enjoyed a store tour that included stops at Parker’s Convenience Stores, Parker’s Markets, Flash Foods and Enmark Stations.
For more on the 2011 NAG Conference, visit NAG’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nationaladvisorygroup or www.nagconvenience.com.

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