Lou Maiellano

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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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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Stepping Up to Train Loyal Employees

Convenience store operators must work on improving their training programs so that they can improve sales, customer satisfaction and employee retention. By Jim Callahan. The strained economy has been a little bit of a double-edged sword for the convenience store industry. While customers may be a little tighter with their spending, I’ve found that employee

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Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation

By John Lofstock, Editor. In these difficult economic times it’s rewarding to meet successful businesses that are doing things right. It’s even more gratifying when these businesses are family owned and operated. Such is the case with Family Express in Valparaiso, Ind. I have known Gus Olympidis and his family for more than 15 years

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Meeting the Demand for Fresh Foods

I was having drinks with some friends recently at the NACS Leadership Conference  when the topic of exceeding the customers’ expectations came up. I was asked by a member of the group what I thought was the true cost of not doing something right the first time. The consensus was that when it came to

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Getting the Most Out of Your Car Wash

Energy efficient washes can help car wash owners save money, while winning bonus points with customers who value sustainability. By Jim Callahan. Increasing profits at the car wash depends on two tasks: drawing new customers and tempting current customers to increase the frequency of their visits. To succeed with a car wash, you must be

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Five Ways to Stop Wasting Cash in Inventory

Scrutinizing expenditures across all areas of the business is a proven method for boosting profitability. By Betsi Bixby, Meridian Associates. When we do business valuations for marketers who want to know what their business or someone else’s is worth, one of the criteria we measure is inventory efficiency. Why? Because inefficient inventory will actually reduce

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Give Stores a Quick Makeover

Checking store sets daily for clutter and cleanliness is a simple solution for enhancing your location’s appearance. By Jim Callahan I went to check on a small convenience store recently that was in need of a little pick-me-up. One of the first things I noticed was the amount of free space the store had along

Look Who’s Talking…It’s Your Customers

Convenience store retailers not in touch with the needs of their customers risk far more than losing repeat business and sales. They risk extinction as customers gravitate toward chains that provide superior service and anticipate their needs. That was the key message delivered by John Goodman, vice chairman of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting last

The Growing Importance of Foodservice

I had the opportunity recently to look back at the archives of Convenience Store Decisions from the early 1990s. The majority of stories were dominated by candy and tobacco. Sure, there were some sandwich stories and the obligatory narrative on roller grills—even one mention of a futuristic retailer in Texas attempting to develop a pricebook

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Embracing Change in the Year Ahead

With 2013 well underway, convenience store retailers should take the time to evaluate their operations and develop a plan to stay ahead of their competition. By Jim Callahan. It has long been a  habit of mine to prioritize my work hours and spend them where they are most needed. As a result,  I am able

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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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8 Years, 244 Days

By: John Matthews, founder of Gray Cat Enterprises.  It is official. As of Dec. 5, Gray Cat Enterprises marks the longest consecutive stint in my background for one place. Gray Cat Enterprises hit eight years, 244 days old on Dec. 5, which now surpasses the time I spent at Little Caesars. It is hard to

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