Are Customers Always Right?

As anyone even remotely associated with the service industry will tell you the customer is king. But a new book is challenging that theory and takes a critical look at the true value of disgruntled customers. For example, in a retail setting, the squeaky wheel almost always winds up getting the grease. Customers tend to

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Keeping the Menu Fresh

Foodservice customers are becoming value-conscious, a reflection of current economic conditions. Consumers are now expecting better value in terms of price, service, consistency and food quality. By John Lofstock, Editor. Bringing consumers into convenience stores to buy food requires a great offering at a good price. But with all the competition for share of stomach,

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Shell Bolsters Loyalty

The Fuel Rewards Network, an extension of its Grocer Rewards program, is enhancing the brand proposition for Shell marketers and wholesalers. By John Lofstock, Editor. The competition for customers has never been so furious. Consumers have more and more choices every day, and the right customer loyalty program has the power to make or break

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Thorntons Salutes Employees, Troops

The 2011 General Manager’s Conference in Louisville features awards for top team members and vendors and a Humanitarian Event at Fort Knox. By John Lofstock, Editor Close to 400 general managers, regional managers, company executives and corporate sponsors gathered in Louisville, Ky., this week as Thorntons Inc. kicked off its 2011 General Managers’ Conference. The

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Wholesale Gasoline Costs Mixed in Early November

Wholesale gasoline costs were mixed in major metropolitan markets across the U.S. during the first week of November, while the broader trend is moving higher despite poor demand for gasoline. Should current dynamics hold, we could see the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) U.S. retail gasoline average moving higher into the Thanksgiving holiday from a four-week

Honoring the Thorntons Culture

Pride, tradition, exceptional service, an outstanding culture and dedicated employees. These are just some of the unique qualities found in the industry’s top convenience store chains. For the past 22 years, Convenience Store Decisions has had the honor of recognizing this excellence in retailing and this year we are proud to honor Thorntons Inc. as

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NACS CAFÉ is Calling

With foodservice taking on an expanded role in convenience stores, retailers can utilize NACS CAFÉ to learn about best practices, new ideas and emerging solutions. By John Lofstock, Editor. Foodservice now accounts for nearly one in every six dollars spent inside convenience stores. Getting foodservice right is no longer just a challenge, it is absolutely

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Englefield Oil Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Three generations of exceptional leadership and a keen focus on employees help the family business reach this distinctive milestone. By: John Lofstock, Editor. To understand the history of the convenience store and petroleum industry is to understand the individual success stories that helped build our great nation. Each company has a unique story, but their

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Motivating Employees in a Challenging Economy

Some chains just don’t have the financial resources to give out much-deserved raises and bonuses, but there are other ways to show your staff you appreciate their hard work. By John Lofstock, Editor. To say the least, the past few years haven’t been the best for business. While we have weathered a brutal recession, it’s

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Stacking the Cards In Your Favor

General purpose prepaid debit cards are rapidly gaining favor with consumers as an alternative to closed-loop gift cards. By John Lofstock, Editor. Sales of open-loop prepaid cards, issued by banks and credit card companies and able to be used at multiple establishments, are only going to go up as more consumers come to appreciate their

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The Business of Growing

Overcoming the top nine challenges for effectively growing your retail business requires true leadership and patience. By John Lofstock, Editor. The hardest step entrepreneurs take is getting their startup off the ground once and for all. The second hardest step is growing it into the best business it can be. What today’s entrepreneurs and aspiring

Tracking the Trends in Convenience Retailing

Despite the global recession, convenience stores have thrived thanks to their ability to provide fast service, quality products and great value in strategic locations. As service and location remain the industry’s primary competitive advantage over supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, many of whom are moving into the fuel and fresh food business, convenience stores

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Updating the State of the Industry

NACS Chairman Jeff Miller discusses card fees, fuel and the future of convenience stores. By John Lofstock, Editor. Jeff Miller, president of Miller Oil Co. in Virginia, wears many hats. He is an oilman, an industry advocate and a leader.   For the past year, he has also been the chairman of NACS, which could

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Giving Back to the Community

The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees boosts charitable funding. By John Lofstock, Editor. As part of its ongoing commitment to charitable causes, the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees (NCASEF) helped raise nearly $750,000 this year for two of its charitable partners, Hire Heroes USA and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). Hire

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Exercise Caution on Fuel Tanks

With retailers still unsure of what the future holds for fuels in the U.S., investing in new USTs is a risky proposition. By John Lofstock, Editor. It’s been nearly four years since then-President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act into law, requiring at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel be

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Effectively Managing the Fuel Market

As gasoline prices trend upward, retailers are struggling to stay competitive on price while protecting their margin. By John Lofstock, Editor. The cost of fuel has been roaring up and down like a rollercoaster, and so has the risk to retailers when purchasing fuel in large quantities. Fortunes can be made by accurately predicting which

Is Big Oil Losing its Drawing Power?

For many, many years the power of the Big Oil brands was indisputable. They owned the refineries, the stations and the credit card networks to boot. While my father was an Exxon dealer and jobber for more than 30 years I distinctly remember seeing Shell and Texaco credit cards lying around the house. In those

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Wholesale Gasoline Costs Surge ahead of Irene

Gasoline suppliers and schedulers were busy in front of the last weekend in August making preparations for a massive Hurricane Irene, with worry that the storm would trigger extended outages at regional refineries, pipelines and barge deliveries in the New York Harbor—the delivery location for the New York Mercantile Exchange RBOB gasoline futures contract. Pipeline

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FDA Retail Inspections to Begin in Three States

The FDA has awarded a contract to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to begin conducting FDA sponsored retail compliance inspections, according to the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO). Also, renewal contracts for the state compliance inspections were awarded to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission and the Colorado Department of Public

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Updated: Gulf Returning to its Retail Roots

The iconic fuel brand is expanding into new markets with a fresh image and a renewed focus on operations. By John Lofstock, Editor. There was a time several decades ago when Gulf wasn’t just a downstream oil company—it was an integrated powerhouse with operations across several continents, from upstream to downstream, and with a heavy

Saluting the Thorntons Team

By John Lofstock, Editor. August is typically one of my favorite issues of the year because it gives us here at Convenience Store Decisions an opportunity to give something back to the industry for its tremendous support throughout the year. In August we announce our annual Convenience Store Chain of the Year, and this year

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Frozen Beverages Appealing to Younger Consumers

New products, flavors and sweeteners have helped energize sales. ew market research from Y-Pulse LLC shows that today’s preteens and teens are interested in more sophisticated and trendy beverages, including those served up in convenience stores and even their school cafeteria. In a recent online survey, Y-Pulse asked middle and junior high school students to

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Tops Markets Selects Partners with Retalix

Tops Markets LLC, a 132-store grocery chain based in Williamsville, N.Y., has selected Retalix’s StoreLine point-of-sale (POS) software application to lower the cost of ownership and increase the functionality of its front-end operations. Mike Metz, vice president of information technology at Tops, said he was looking to upgrade its legacy POS software as part of

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Can Unionization Affect Your C-Store Business?

Proposed changes by the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board could drastically change how employers interact with their workforce. Recently, both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced proposals to change rules that could have significant impact on employers. Both sets of proposed changes are consistent

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

There was a time in the convenience store industry when being a great marketer was enough to have a successful business. Unfortunately, being a successful convenience store retailer these days means that not only do you have to outperform your competition, but you must also satisfy federal regulators. The convenience store industry is used to

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