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Making a Great First Impression

Most people will judge you within the first few seconds of meeting you and their opinion will most likely never change. By Jim Callahan. I was in a client store recently and saw a familiar, middle-aged cashier behind the counter that recently began paying a little extra attention to her work appearance. Dressed in the

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Minimum Wage Dilemma

By Tony Huppert, CEO, Team Oil Inc. I recently received an email from a State Senator highlighting the need to raise the minimum wage. The Senator mentions polls and surveys that support the belief. The problem with polls and surveys, they can be worded to get whatever result is wanted.  OK, on with the minimum

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The Value of a Positive Attitude

The behavior of your employees is contagious. When employees are friendly and outgoing, the entire company will benefit. By Jim Callahan. I have long believed that you do not truly know what a good job is until you have experienced the angst of being forced into a bad position. I have been fortunate in my

Are You Prepared for the Healthcare Challenge?

Quality employees and customer service are the backbone of the convenience store and petroleum industry. All you have to do is observe how top quartile companies treat and respect their personnel to understand what kind of asset frontline employees can be to a successful company. It’s no accident that these operators are outperforming their competitors

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The Florida Experiment

By:  Gerald Donnini, associate, Moffa, Gainor & Sutton, P.A. In most states beer and cigarette distributors are required to report their sales to the state’s alcohol and tobacco division. There are numerous tax and licensing implications that demand these figures be reported to a state’s ABT agency. However, in most states, ABT does not share

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Developing a Sense of Urgency at Retail

From store cleanliness to customer service, all retailers must go above and beyond the call of duty to protect their brand identity.By Jim Callahan. I don’t get upset too often, but I’m usually able to get there pretty quickly when it does happen. And when I do encounter a less-than-positive experience, I always look for

Celebrating Maverik’s Adventure Culture

Maverik Inc. is a convenience store chain that prides itself on serving others, and that’s what helped make Convenience Store Decisions’ 2013 Chain of the Year award dinner in Atlanta so special last month. The Utah company that is so used to making others feel special found itself as the center of attention before nearly

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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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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