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Four Wall Analysis

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. When it comes to managing a profitable operation, knowing the key financial drivers of the store is paramount. Developing a “Four-Wall Analysis” is a helpful tool to better understanding both revenue projections as well as variable and fixed expenses. Few operators take the time

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Connecting The Dots

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. You may think about your business 24/7, but chances are your customers do not. Hard to believe, right? I am a big believer that the successful businessperson is always considering how they can “connect the dots” for their customers more easily so that their

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Operational Excellence

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Managing a retail store is tough work. Between operations, merchandising, marketing and facility upkeep, retail business owners have their hands full.  Managing the details of retail is the difference between making it or not.  All too often, retail owners become lax in their operation

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Complying with Government Regulations

Whether it’s foodservice, tobacco or unionization, c-store owners must educate themselves on the changes that are taking place and respond accordingly to protect their investments. By Jim Callahan. As if we did not have enough government intervention to deal with, we are about to come face to face with an enormous increase in rules and

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How to Boost the Value of Your Convenience Store

By Mike Handelsman, group general manager, BizBuySell.com and BizQuest.com. There’s no arguing that banks, potential investors and creditors look heavily to a company’s financial statements to determine its value. However, past financials often aren’t the whole story. Here are some additional factors to consider as you seek to maximize your company’s value – whether you

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Time For Business Planning!

John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .”  Ah yes, the annual business planning cycle is upon us. The time of the year to huddle all of your business colleagues in a room to hash out the key initiatives for the upcoming

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Fostering Better Communication Through Franchise Advisory Councils

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Establishing a Franchise Advisory Council (FAC) as a formal communications system to ensure franchisees input with regard to store marketing & operations is a natural stepping-stone for a growing franchise operation. FAC representatives are an indispensable part of the communication system in that they

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It’s Showtime!

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. It is time to create a stir.  Some excitement.  Some passion.  Go ahead, pound your chest a bit.  It is time to make yourself known.  It’s Showtime! All too often, store operators – after their grand opening—sit back and wait for the phone to

Tracking the Trends in Convenience Retailing

Despite the global recession, convenience stores have thrived thanks to their ability to provide fast service, quality products and great value in strategic locations. As service and location remain the industry’s primary competitive advantage over supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers, many of whom are moving into the fuel and fresh food business, convenience stores

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Investing in a Foodservice Future

It’s time for all convenience store owners to recognize the overall value of a good deli program. By Jim Callahan. While a solid deli program is part of the convenience store industry’s present, it is destined to play an even larger and more critical part of our future. Whether you are a small chain or

Is Big Oil Losing its Drawing Power?

For many, many years the power of the Big Oil brands was indisputable. They owned the refineries, the stations and the credit card networks to boot. While my father was an Exxon dealer and jobber for more than 30 years I distinctly remember seeing Shell and Texaco credit cards lying around the house. In those

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Promoting Your Store Through Public Relations

 By: John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Public relations can often be overlooked as a powerful tool in communicating your store and its brand throughout the community. Whether you are creating news, sponsoring an event or contributing to a charitable organization, a prudent public relations strategy can create the following benefits

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Local Store Marketing: Coupon Books

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Growing up in Michigan, I was a part of a very prestigious high school baseball team– the Plymouth Canton Chiefs.  Year in and year out, our team was highly ranked and continually vied for the state championship.  Playing on this team was a sign

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Productivity: Motivating Employees

By John Matthews, president and founder of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. “The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker, but of the manager.” – Peter Drucker. I remember my first managerial job in retail foodservice.  The year was 1987, and I was a manager trainee for Little Caesars Pizza.  I had just

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LinkedIn – The Power of Networking

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. With the introduction of social media in the last five or so years, networking and expanding your relevancy in your community has never been more productive.  Unlike most advertising and media, social media enables you to create a two-way communication with your network contacts

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Maximizing A Convention

By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc. Whether this is your first industry convention or you are a seasoned pro, I am a firm believer that establishing a well-thought out plan in advance of attending an industry convention is key for maximizing results.  Many conventions can be daunting with thousands of

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The ABC’s of ASPC

Understanding average sales per customer can stop employee theft in its tracks. By Jim Callahan. Human resources guru Mel Kleiman preaches that 20% of employees are basically honest, 20% are basically dishonest and the rest tend to gravitate toward the middle—depending on how management handles the dishonest employees. The following is designed to identify and

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NAG: You Will Be Glad You Came

By John Petersen, Publisher. As we got on the shuttle to head back to the airport leaving the 2010 National Advisory Group (NAG) Conference in Charleston, S.C., I asked one of the retail attendees if he was satisfied with the event. The response was more than I could have hoped for. “Why don’t y’all do

Saluting the Thorntons Team

By John Lofstock, Editor. August is typically one of my favorite issues of the year because it gives us here at Convenience Store Decisions an opportunity to give something back to the industry for its tremendous support throughout the year. In August we announce our annual Convenience Store Chain of the Year, and this year

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Is Groupon Right for Your Business?

A growing debate continues as to whether Groupon, and other daily deal sites like Living Socialare good for businesses or are they a quick-fix marketing solution in a sluggish economy yielding short-lived, expensive, false hope. While the jury is still out, there is no debating that the daily deal phenomenon continues to grow in popularity.

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What’s On Your Customer’s C-Store Shopping List?

By: Jeff Weghorst, director of merchandising at dunnhumbyUSA One of the primary drivers behind a customer’s willingness to transact with a retailer is product selection. If a customer does not encounter an appealing assortment of products in-store, they are highly unlikely to engage even once with the retailer, and much less likely to become a

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Branded vs. Proprietary Foodservice

The debate has gone on for many years–should you implement an existing branded foodservice program or are you better off developing your own unique proprietary brand?  The answer to both is YES!  There is no right or wrong answer as both have their pros and cons.   Branded foodservice offers the quickest path to implementation since

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Facebook Marketing for Convenience Stores

Convenience store chains, like most retailers, pay close attention to transaction counts and sales per customer. Until recently, getting to know your customers as individuals might have seemed costly and out of reach for all but the largest of companies. Having the opportunity to communicate with your customers and getting to know their friends and

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What’s your turnover rate?

Turnover can be very costly, yet it is often overlooked or poorly measured by many convenience store retailers. Studies peg the cost of replacing one c-store employee can be $1,500 or more and that ignores the opportunity cost from increased sales resulting from a well trained, stable, customer focused work force.   Many chains are

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Getting The Most From Teams

Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to have a cross functional work team established to tackle business challenges or drive operational improvement in current processes. Other times it is better to assign the task to an individual or to a group with a clearly defined leader. Cross functional teams provide the added benefit of brining

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