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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Getting the Most Out of Your NACS Show Experience

As the convenience store industry descends on Atlanta for the annual NACS expo, retailers of all sizes are advised to attend the educational sessions and walk the show floor for new ideas. By Jim Callahan. This year’s NACS show in Atlanta promises to be the biggest and best ever. In an industry where there is

Building Profits and Relationships

Fresh off another successful National Advisory Group (NAG) conference last month in Nashville, I would like to thank all of the attendees that joined us for two days of outstanding networking, educational sessions and information exchanges. What makes NAG so special is that it is an association driven by retailers for retailers. We are an

Digital Coupons: The Mobile Category

Q & A with Catherine Tabor, CEO, Sparkfly. By: David Hochman, founder of DJH Marketing Communications Inc. According to a recent post on Mashable.com, most consumers who subscribe to a mobile plan from a carrier own a smartphone. In fact, it was way back in March 2012 when the smartphone became the dominant mobile device

The Silent War Against Retail

Within the past six weeks, documents outlining New York City’s secret war against electronic tobacco were leaked to the public. The contents of the documents are hardly surprising given New York’s recent assault on items sold in convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and supermarkets. The documents were leaked by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association

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Evaluating Your Team Members

Frontline employees remain the crucial connection between your brand and your customers. You must have faith that they are representing your company in a positive manner. By Jim Callahan. I read recently that with the improvement in the economy, employee turnover in the convenience store business is back on the rise. This follows a couple

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Preparing to Own Your Own C-Store Business

Making the leap from company employee to c-store owner presents many new challenges, but could also reap exciting rewards—if you are fully prepared. By Jim Callahan. So you have aspirations to build your own convenience store chain? That’s great, but as you move from an executive role into actual ownership, there are many more issues

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Foodservice Remains the Key to Future Success

By John Lofstock, Editor. While trendy items like electronic cigarettes and energy shots offer convenience store retailers a respite from depressed tobacco and fuel margins, it should be perfectly clear to all store owners that developing a great foodservice program is what it will take to remain profitable in the future. Convenience store operators are

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2013 Summer Fancy Food Show Recap

The Fancy Food Show is held every summer in New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, or Javits Center (the ’12 show moved to Washington, D.C. due to renovations at the Javits Center) Thousands of food and beverage suppliers rent booth space and hand out samples of their products to the specialty food trade.

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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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Price Drives Coffee Sales, but Quality Makes it a Destination

When it comes to your brew program, can you compete with the big boys or are you willing to concede this important customer? By Jim Callahan. Starbucks taught the industry that consumers will readily pay double and even triple the normal price for a clean, upscale and trendy atmosphere where they can obtain a more

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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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E-Cigarettes and the Future

As the FDA pokes around electronic tobacco devices, experts predict the products will evolve considerably in the coming years. By Lou Maiellano. While in Las Vegas last month, attending the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) conference, I attended a number of informative presentations. One of these presentations was on the “Current State of the

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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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Driving New Business

By John Lofstock, Editor. Hailed by many as an emerging threat to the tobacco cigarette industry, electronic cigarettes are providing smokers with an alternative to traditional tobacco-based smoking. But these battery-operated devices serve as much more than a nicotine delivery system, they are serving as a shot in the arm for an entire industry. E-cigarettes

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Protecting Your Brand

It takes a lifetime to build a personal and professional reputation, but, fair or not, it could take just a minute to lose it. By Jim Callahan. I’ve always preached and firmly believe that one reprimand wipes out 10 “atta boys.” To me, this is an absolute truism that I always caution employees about.  I

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2013 Tobacco Legislative Update

Tobacco taxes and e-cigarette legislation are the two biggest issues retailers are facing in the all-important tobacco category. By Thomas Briant, Executive Director, National Association of Tobacco Outlets. Of all the different tobacco legislative bills introduced this year in Congress and state legislatures, two issues stand out, namely higher cigarette and tobacco taxes and electronic

Four Strategic Lessons

By: Dave Hochman, founder of DJH Marketing Communications Inc. In 2010, a new category in CPG emerged, one that quickly garnered the attention of the beverage, c-store and specialty food trades. The category was termed “relaxation” and it was originally positioned as a diametric opposite to the “energy” category. One-ounce plastic shot bottles with brand

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Crisis Management 101 for C-Stores

By: David Hochman, founder of DJH Marketing Communications Inc. As is (sometimes painfully) obvious, today’s C-Store customer enjoys the benefits an ever-expanding number of choices with regards to their C-Store visits. Most locations drawing from the same pool of employees and categories, and pricing competition just creates a “race to the bottom” environment. One of

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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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