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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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Improving Customer Service in the New Year

As the calendar turns to 2013, convenience store retailers should embrace the challenge of exceeding their customers’ expectations. By Jim Callahan. Let’s face it, the great majority of us struggle miserably to drive sales during the very first week of each New Year. Here’s a resolution that every retailer can wrap his arms around—one that

Sandy Brings Out the Best and Worst in Marketers

The buildup leading up to superstorm Sandy was met by many along the East Coast with skepticism. We’ve all heard these doomsday scenarios before, but rarely has the storm matched the hype. As such, many residents ignored the warnings to fill up their gas tanks and gas cans in preparation for power outages and fuel

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Aftershocks from Hurricane Sandy

In a time of need for our customers, one bad apple can spoil all of the good will done by others. By Jim Callahan. “One bad apple spoils the bunch.” That is an old saying that certainly rings true, even more so when faced with public scrutiny over the availability and pricing of petroleum products.

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The Basics Of Franchising

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Upon opening their first store, many single-store operators come to an, often premature, conclusion that they are going to franchise. While this may be a noble end-game goal, what is often missing from this proclamation is determining whether or not their concept is “franchishable.”

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Local Store Marketing: Chamber of Commerce

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Joining and becoming active in your local chamber of commerce is an excellent way to increase your store’s visibility within your local business area.  In addition to meeting a number of key local business contacts who can turn into group sales and individual patrons

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Small Business Management

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Running a small business has its share of ups and downs. When I launched Gray Cat Enterprises nearly nine years ago, running my own small business has been both rewarding and challenging. Gray Cat has enabled me to establish greater balance in my life

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Self-Service Kiosks

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Self-service kiosks continue to be a growing trend in retailing and is expected to accelerate over the years.  By the end of 2012, nearly 2 million self-serve kiosks will be in place, and savvy retailers should consider capitalizing on this trend.  This exploding industry

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