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Local Store Marketing: Retail-To-Retail Bouncebacks

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Budgets are tight, but you need to move top line sales—fast! What is a quick and easy way to expand your customer base? Partnering with noncompeting retailers to help your broaden exposure is a simple, yet terrific local store marketing idea. By crafting a

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Creating A Branding Game Plan

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. What is your branding game plan? Not the branding media schedule—that is just part of it—but rather, your overarching strategic decision-making game plan on all of your branding initiatives? Most advertising managers have a page or two media plan that an agency has produced

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Inspiring a Solid Work Ethic

Consider this an open letter to the young men and women that work in our stores. If you want to advance, don’t let your bosses out work you. By Jim Callahan. Did you ever wonder how older co-workers keep going long after many of their younger cohorts seem to have worn down and out?  I’m

Inspiring Leadership in Those Around You

Master Chief Petty Officer David A. Lindenberger. He is the toughest man I’ve ever met. As the senior enlisted man aboard the submarine USS Providence during my time in the Navy, he was known simply as Chief of the Boat or the COB. He wasn’t a particularly big man, maybe an iron fist taller than

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Local Store Marketing: Overcoming Retail Wallpaper

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Ever drive down the road and out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of a 20-foot pink gorilla in a bathing suit on top of a store? That is a retailer attempting to overcome what I call the “retail wallpaper

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The 1980s Las Vegas Turnaround… and Lessons for C-Store Operators

Widen your customer base and change your surroundings.  By David Hochman, owner of DJH Marketing Communications Inc. For the first 30 years or so, casinos in Las Vegas thrived, raking in obscene profits simply because options for legal gambling in the U.S. were few, far and in-between. Things started to get a bit more difficult for the casinos

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Creating An Advertising Plan

By John Matthews, president of Gray Cat Enterprises. As you have probably gathered from reading my other articles, I am a firm believer in planning for success. Whether it is operational excellence, de-branding a store or outlining your procedures and policies, prudent planning creates stronger execution and efficiency. While planning may come second nature to

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Creating A Policy And Procedure Handbook

By John Matthews, president of Gray Cat Enterprises. “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”   – from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As a small business owner, you may wonder why one would need to get organized from a policy and

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Redrawing the Battle Lines

Separating nicotine from cigarettes and smoking could open new doors for tobacco. By Lou Maiellano. Imagine a natural ingredient so promising and intriguing that it is being clinically evaluated to address a variety of illnesses and conditions, including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Tourette syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety. Think about it, an ingredient that would

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Strengthening the Leadership Chain

When it comes to attracting and maintaining repeat customers, a convenience store is only as strong as its weakest link. By Jim Callahan. In Thomas Reid’s Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man he wrote that, “in every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the

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Managing Technology Within An Organization

“I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.” — From the HAL 9000 computer, 2001: A Space Odyssey When it comes to technology solutions for your business it is easy to get carried away with the latest-and-greatest gadgets and solutions.

Lessons in Retail Leadership

Despite fast-changing customer expectations, shortened product and retail life cycles and rapid technological advancements, many retailers have not taken advantage of opportunities to innovate. By applying new perspectives to established ways of doing business, convenience store retailers can strengthen their competitive and financial positions, improve the customer experience and create a new life cycle of

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Thriving on Teamwork

Getting one store back in order in just two-and-a-half days proved to be the ultimate retail challenge. By Jim Callahan. One of my retail clients recently had to take back two failed convenience stores—that were in extremely bad condition—from a franchisee on a Wednesday and wanted them back online by the weekend. I love a

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Creating A Company Communications Plan

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” – from the movie, Cool Hand Luke  Fire. Aim. Ready.  If this is your communications plan…..you may want to read on. Amazingly, many companies do not think about communications—both internally and externally—until it is a

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Half Century Man

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Feb. 11 was a milepost of sorts – I turned 50! As I enter the second half of my life [sic], I look back at the first 50 years with a great sense of pride and exuberance.  I have been blessed with the opportunities

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Free Money For Energy Efficiency

By Ali Farsai Savvy owners realize that on their utility bill, they are paying for energy efficiency in the form of utility taxes and fees.   If you are paying to subsidize a program, you should also take advantage of its benefits before they run out of funding. Funding on all energy efficiency programs are

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A Simple Tobacco Fable

Alternative products are helping to shape the future of convenience store tobacco sets. By Lou Maiellano. Imagine, if you will, that European explorers land in Africa, North America or South America in the 14th, 15th or 16th centuries. Upon landing, these explorers find the inhabitants of these exotic new lands drinking a strange, energizing brew

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Fast Nickels vs.Slow Dimes

When it comes to competing in the fuel business, convenience store retailers must fight to maintain their market share. By Jim Callahan. I received an inquiry from a small retailer in the Northeast recently who had lost a huge chunk of his fuel volume due to some fierce new competition. This is an issue that

Finding Your Way with Foodservice

Growing up in New YORK CITY few things were as natural to me as eating out. Even now with three children, a minimum of two meals a day are eaten outside the house seven days a week. The kitchen table is more of a convenient place to store things, like takeout menus and the kids’

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Local Store Marketing: Product Sampling

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. If you feed them, they will come…. One of the most successful local store marketing (LSM) tactics to build into your daily operations is a sampling strategy for your products.  If your retail establishment is foodservice, your customers will want to taste the product.

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May The Co-Op Be With You….

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. When a multi-unit organization begins to grow, one common step in this process is the creation of advertising and purchasing co-ops that enable stores to pool their financial and strategic resources. Generally, co-ops are determined using Designated Market Areas (DMA) of which there are

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Project Management

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.”  – author unknown If you get in a car in Chicago with the intent of driving to Los Angeles,

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Local Store Marketing: Sports Sponsorships

By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Sports sponsorships are terrific ways to build your brand through local store marketing, because they are so flexible in nature.  Creating and fostering a relationship with a local team, while customizing your sponsorship to suit your needs, can catapult your brand further than simply

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Training the Leaders of Tomorrow

While management is always on the lookout for new talent, it’s also up to employees to demonstrate that they are ready to advance to leadership positions. By Jim Callahan. As we embark on 2012, it’s time to start considering how you’re going to begin grooming team members for advancement within the company. Today’s employees are

Are Customers Always Right?

As anyone even remotely associated with the service industry will tell you the customer is king. But a new book is challenging that theory and takes a critical look at the true value of disgruntled customers. For example, in a retail setting, the squeaky wheel almost always winds up getting the grease. Customers tend to

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