Preparing for Higher Pump Prices

While these difficult economic times continue to peck away at customers’ disposable income, fuel prices are creeping up, which will only further erode discretionary spending. Gasoline prices nationally have increased steadily since September, rising nearly 60 cents to an average of $3.11 for a gallon of regular unleaded, according to the Department of Energy at

tom

NAG Scholarship Enrollment is Open

As many of you know and remember from past affiliation, The National Advisory Group (NAG) is a top organization of hard-working executives from small- to medium-sized chains whose mission is to help other convenience store executives build profits and relationships. This group meets once a year to share best business practices, operational improvements and revenue-generating

The customer is king

The Customer is King

“The customer is always right.”  “Our customers come first.”  “We value our customers.” Blah, blah, blah… Sure we have all read retailer mission statements about how they value their customers, but how many truly take these words to heart?  For most companies, their mission statement and promise of “the best customer experience” is just words

strategic options

How Did You Get Here? Where Are You Going?

It sounds like a couple of obvious questions, but when these questions are asked to executives at a convenience store chain, the wide array of answers may surprise you. Most execs generally know how a company arrived at its present state. However, dig deeper and many will tell you they arrived at their current destination

Building the Business

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

Electronic cigarettes are  just one of the new products  that retailers should consider  when updating their product mix for 2011.

Embracing a Fresh Perspective

The New Year offers convenience store owners an opportunity to evaluate  their product mix to ensure they are meeting their customers’ needs. The bells have chimed, the ball has dropped and 2011 is now a reality. Happy New Year to all of you. Every New Year starts with hope and a sense of wonderment as

camel-snus

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Convenience store operators must take the time to observe how their competitors are marketing tobacco. In most of the presentations I have given over the past few years, I challenge my participants to take the time to understand how their business is doing, but to also make sure to check on the competition. After all,

Employees may not like working holiday shifts. It’s important to remind them of the valuable service they provide to the industry’s loyal consumers.

Meeting the Demand for Convenience

  Even during the holiday season customers expect their local c-store not only to be open, but to meet their diverse needs. Every year during the holidays I have cashiers tell me that customers ask them why our stores are open on days like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Customers often remark, “It’s a

trends

Tracking the Trends

While the convenience store industry is in a much better position to withstand the strains of the current economic recession, one thing is painfully clear. Customers are changing the way they buy goods and services and retailers must keep up with those changes to avoid becoming obsolete. A new generation of Millennials, those born between

Saluting Family Businesses

I just got back from the National Advisory Group’s (NAG) 2010 Ideas Conference in Charleston, S.C., and came away with a much better understanding of the issues facing small businesses and family-owned companies. Whether it’s dealing with the massive overhaul of the U.S. medical system, costly PCI compliance investments that yield no ROI or embracing

Rutter’s Rises as Chain of the Year

Outstanding leadership, great stores and unsurpassed customer service are the hallmarks of the convenience store industry’s exceptional chains. Following these guiding principles, Convenience Store Decisions is proud to announce Rutter’s Farm Stores as the 2010 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. Rutter’s, which supplants Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes as Chain of the Year, is

Building Relationships at the National Advisory Group

Throughout my 15 years of covering the convenience store industry, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, develop lifelong friendships and watch in awe as otherwise ordinary people learned to work together to produce extraordinary results. Throughout that time I’ve also seen countless people come and go. For some, the industry was a

COLA

Preparing for the Fountain Wars

McDonald’s is preparing an aggressive summer promotion targeting core c-store customers. Another month, another challenge for convenience store operators. Where is the legendary Charles Atlas when the big bad bully tries to kick sand in our collective faces? As I’m sure you’ve heard by now this summer’s bully is, once again, McDonald’s. The hamburger chain

Targeting Casual Smokers

A new class of products is emerging to satisfy the needs of social tobacco users. So many thoughts that capture my mind are worthy of being written about. Some incite our emotions (like the recent attack on Terry Gallagher of Smoker Friendly who accepted the position as coach of the Boulder High School girls varsity

Deadline Day is Here

A baker puts two muffins in an oven. The first muffin turns to the other and says, “Boy it’s hot in here.” The second muffin screams, “Yikes, a talking muffin.” Hopefully convenience store chains are not nearly this surprised when it comes to this month’s PCI deadlines. However, at the NACStech conference in April, several

Welcome Back NAG

As the industry continues its rapid evolution, CSD is stepping up its efforts to provide convenience store operators with the tools they need to be successful. To that end, CSD is proud to announce two premiere events in the coming months. First and foremost, the National Advisory Group (NAG) begins its rise back to prominence

All in the Family

In these difficult economic times it’s rewarding to meet successful businesses that are doing things the right way. It’s even more gratifying when these businesses are family owned and operated. Such is the case with High’s of Baltimore. There aren’t too many 82-year-old companies in this industry that I’m not familiar with, but I admit

Strength in Numbers

Resilient, tough and tested. These are just a few of the words analysts and retailers alike used to describe the convenience store and petroleum industry over the past 12 months. With the economy suffering its most difficult period in some 80 years, convenience stores held up rather admirably considering how consumer confidence plunged and the

Time to Get Fresh

If you’re not doing foodservice, consider this your call to action. As the economic downturn eases, the restaurant industry will see a gradual improvement in 2010, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Industry sales are expected to reach $580 billion this year, up 2.5% in current dollars over 2009. But that’s

New Year, New Opportunities

For many convenience store chains, 2009 could not end soon enough. A challenging economy, higher operating costs, outrageous credit card fees and an onslaught of new tobacco taxes were just some of the issues retailers had to contend with. In our ongoing effort to provide readers with the tools they need to make informed decisions,

Lessons Learned from Challenging Year

There’s no doubt that 2009 will go down as one of the most challenging years ever for the convenience store and petroleum industry. Combined with the poor economy that plagued marketers all year, credit card fees and tobacco regulations added fuel to a fire that, quite honestly, was already burning out of control. For this

Nice Guys Do Finish First

Congratulations to Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Convenience Store Decisions’ 2009 Convenience Store Chain of the Year. The Chain of the Year award remains the oldest and most prestigious award in the industry. This year is our 20th anniversary of presenting the distinction to a deserving chain and we’re honored to have recognized some of

Opportunities Abound

The NACS Show is my annual reminder of just how much innovation exists among the many talented retailers and suppliers I communicate with every day. I expect this year’s show—amazingly the 14th of my career—to be one of the most interesting I’ve ever attended. While the event has so much to offer, a black cloud

People Make the Industry

When we decided to acquire Convenience Store Decisions from Penton Media nearly two years ago, we did so with an optimistic view of the convenience channel. The dynamics of the industry and its long-term growth prospects in terms of demographics, population expansion in key market areas, the range of needs it fills on a daily

NAG: Back by Popular Demand

When we purchased CONVENIENCE STORE DECISIONS nearly two years ago, we heard a constantly recurring question: “When are you going to revitalize the National Advisory Group (NAG)?” With the acquisition we had a lot on our plate, but we were always looking at NAG. We examined carefully why NAG withered, and what was the proper

css.php