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The Rubber Chicken Circuit

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd……Smiling” (Waters, Gilmour) Death. Not for the faint of heart, then again maybe that’s exactly what it is. Peer Rejection. Depression can set in very quickly when this occurs. Public Speaking? Actually in comparison, the first two don’t sound

Multi-Unit Store Segmentation

By John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises. Multi-unit retail operators are often presented with challenges with their product assortment due to varying demographic and store configurations throughout their network of locations. Often, product assortment is standardized across all store types which leaves opportunities for niche marketing on the sidelines. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach,

Building A Juggernaut Of A Team

By John Matthews, founder and president, Gray Cat Enterprises. Over my career – both in the corporate world and on my own – I have had the privilege of working with some fantastic and talented people. In most cases, I have learned more from them, than they probably learned from me. Surrounding yourself with talented

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Solving The Retail Investment Puzzle

By John Matthews, founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. You own a bunch of stores all varying in size and age. Over the years, product assortments and sets have come and gone and you have ridden certain designs into the ground. Each of your stores needs capital infusion – a refresher – but you do not know

Vertically Integrating Your Brand Message

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc. The concept of vertically integrating your brand message is clearly not new. Companies for years have embraced the concept that if you are going to communicate a brand message, it is best to communicate that same brand message throughout all customer touch points. The

Chasing The Shiny, New (Marketing) Object

By John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. I admit I like technology. I was one of the first adopters to laptops, mobile phones and social media. I remember joining LinkedIn when it had 3 million users – not the 200 million like it does today. Technology is a blessing

Unleashing Your Inner Networker

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Come on, admit it. You wish you were a better networker. Fear not, it is time to unleash your inner networker. Networking is one part art and one part discipline and while there is more than one way to network, if your networking efforts

Menu Simplification: Maintaining Your Focus

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Foodservice operators have long wrestled with the challenge of balancing the demand for increased menu options by customers with that of menu simplification. While a focus on systems and procedures at quick-service restaurants (QSR’s) still drive most operations, these are often at odds with growing

Launching Your Gift Card Program

By John Matthews, founder and CEO of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Gift cards continue to grow leaps and bounds allowing retailers that have implemented a gift card program for their stores to reap vast benefits. In fact, total spending on gift cards in 2012 nearly reached $30 billion with around two-thirds of all American consumers having

Marketing To Kids

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave, when they think that their children are naive.”  – Ogden Nash  Children have been marketed to for years. Retail industry titans have recognized that targeting children and winning their loyalty can carry on throughout their entire

The Art of Execution

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Operational excellence is a retail buzzword that often gets glossed over. Retailers talk the talk, but often miss on walking the walk. Operational excellence has a singular focus: the customer. The customer is treated as a privilege, not a right, and their patronage needs

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Foodservice Brand Positioning: Focus on Clarity

Companies in growth mode are faced with an ongoing dilemma of keeping their expanding portfolio on plan with regard to their strategic branding direction. This is even more important when it comes to foodservice. By John Matthews, Contributing Editor Who are we?That is a question we hear all the time from companies that are trying

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Local Store Marketing: “Be” The News

By John Matthews, founder, Gray Cat Enterprises. What person knows the most about what is happening at your store? You! It is your responsibility to create news about your store — don’t wait for others to do this for you.  Being proactive with the local newspapers to generate news coverage on your store is an

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HELP! I Have To Deliver A Presentation!

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” — George Jessel What is it about public speaking that drives people nuts? Many studies have shown that given the choice of what registers

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Brand Positioning – The Semantic Differential

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. One of the most interesting activities that I have been involved with regarding branding is called a Semantic Differential exercise. As discussed in an earlier blog called “Brand Positioning – A Focus On Clarity“, it is essential to provide clarity for the brand. What that

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Strategic Market Analysis

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Last week, I sat through a meeting with one of my clients where we discussed the infamous question of  ”who are we?” that faces every retailer. As retailers grow – both in store count and in product diversity – the ongoing challenge is to keep

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Brand Positioning – A Focus On Clarity

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Who are we? That is a question I hear all the time from companies that are trying to better communicate to their customers. All too often, companies have grown in spite of the fact of not really knowing whom they are or what they

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Organizational Transformation–A Step Forward

In business, it is essential to know the path just traveled. Most organizations take a look back at the preceding 1-2 months to evaluate their financial results and attempt to make rhyme or reason of it. Lengthy discussions are had to either justify or explain the results—of which there is no way of amending. In

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Tear Down The Expense Wall!

Every small business owner faces the same issue—managing their expenses. While most small businesses keep a keen eye on growing the top line—revenues—many small businesses fail to address their expense line items on an ongoing basis. Granted, once the business started, all line item expenses were carefully reviewed. But, now that your company is established,

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Integrating Acquisitions

Growing your enterprise can usually be accomplished following two paths: a) organic growth—the process of building your overall portfolio of stores through the development of ground-up store build outs; or b) expanding your portfolio through acquiring other locations. In most cases, the strategy of a growing an organization is generally accomplished with a combination of

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Developing Your Financial Acumen

The art of understanding your business from a financial perspective is a critical step for any entrepreneur. Knowing your business—financially—will provide the business owner the avenue for achieving both their short and long term goals. Today’s cash flows are met, and solid financial acumen positions tomorrows potential exit more effectively. While we would all like

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Maintaining A Store-By-Store Database

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. There comes a time in every multi-unit retailer’s business cycle that they want to launch a new product that requires a reconfiguration to their store. I am not talking about a raze-and-rebuild, but rather something as simply sending a new piece of equipment to

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Capital Management Best Practices

By: John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises. Hopefully your business is growing, cash flow is strong, and if that is the case, what a fantastic scenario to be enjoying! Now, one must determine what are the best ways to put those earnings to use. For the “live for the moment” entrepreneur, one could simply

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Developing A Winning Foodservice Strategy

By: John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises. In the convenience store marketplace, margins continue to tighten on core products such as candy, snacks and tobacco. Prudent operators are attempting to stem the tide by introducing foodservice items into their stores. Most facilities provide plenty of customer traffic and space within the store to enable

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Category Management Planning

By: John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises. With the New Year upon us, planning for your annual merchandising and promotional schedule should be in place. For the multi-store operator, identifying the key initiatives for each of the merchandising categories is critical to remaining on plan (and on budget) throughout the year. Each category should

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