Tobacco’s Cloudy Future

Selling tobacco products at retail continues to get harder—this time because of H.R. 1108, the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the House on July 30 and would, if it becomes law, be the first time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulatory authority over tobacco manufacturing and retailing.

Philip Morris USA Pulls High-Tech Filter Cigarettes

Philip Morris USA, the nation’s No. 1 tobacco company, has ended test markets of Marlboro-branded cigarettes that use a high-tech filter. The operating company of Altria Group Inc. said it pulled the plug on Marlboro Ultra Smooth, which uses an activated carbon filter. The company had stopped making new shipments of Marlboro Ultra Smooth to

Going Green

Is it time for convenience store operators to introduce so-called green fuel pumps that can accommodate E-85, biodiesels and other emerging renewable fuels? As with so many other issues in the c-store business, the answer is “it depends.” The consensus thus far is this: the trend is very much in its infancy. Those who wish

Recruiting Top Employees

In the third and final part of Convenience Store Decisions’ recent Foodservice Webcast Series, human resources expert Mel Kleiman, president of Humetrics, talked about “tips for finding and retaining outstanding employees” and polled meeting participants as to where their best employees come from.  Not surprisingly, the majority of Webcast attendees reported that employee referrals generate

Spicing Up the In-Store Offering: “Bienvenido A La Bodega”

Practice this phrase and try to have it down pat by midcentury: “Bienvenido a la bodega.” Sure, it’ll require a bit more than that (“Welcome to the little convenience store”) to gain loyalty from Spanish-speaking Hispanic consumers. But it’s probably a feel-good start in outfitting the c-store to attract one of the fastest-growing demographics in

The $10 Test

Mel Kleiman offers the $10 test: Give your applicant a $10 bill and tell him to buy something in the store—a sandwich, a fountain drink, anything of his choosing—and ask him to return the next day with an assessment of the experience. The applicant will do one of three things: • Take the $10 and

You Don’t Have a Turnover Problem?

Most employers in the convenience store industry think they have a frontline employee turnover problem and, heaven knows, the research surveys seem to confirm your thoughts. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey in February 2008, 78% of 16- to 19-year-olds and 54% of 20- to 24-year-olds had a tenure time of 12 months

Retention of Frontline Employees

» More careful selection in hiring (57%) » Better compensation and benefit (50%) » Tuition reimbursement (47%) » Improved training programs (45%) » Better orientation programs (39%) » Adoption of a casual dress code (38%) » Flexible hours and schedules (33%) » Providing health insurance (29%) » Exit interviews (28%) » Profit-sharing (17%) Source: The

The Man in the Mirror

With the U.S. consuming about 20% of the world’s fuel, it’s time to take matters into our own hands to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. By Jim Callahan You may have noticed that fuel prices seem to be on the rise recently. Quite dramatically you say you’re really ticked off about it–you say

Recession Rx for Business

In good times, running a company is exhilarating. Money is flowing, customers are happy, employees have a spring in their step. In not-so-good times, like now, the very same job can feel like scaling Mt. Everest in a snowstorm while wearing a knapsack filled with bricks and suffering from a bad case of the flu.

Steppin’ into Spring and Springing into Summerby Jim Callahan, Convenience Solutions

I recently read a great quote attributed to a one time door-to-door sales person and lately more recognizable as founder of the billion-dollar company that bears her name, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay Ash said, “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as

Nutty About Seeds

C-store customers are discovering what Native Americans learned thousands of years ago: A handful of nuts or sunflower seeds can satisfy hunger and boost energy reserves without risking adding excess body fat—and researchers have found that people who include nuts and seeds in their diets lower their risks for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Though

Do You Provide World-Class Service?

Today’s business environment is becoming increasingly complex and competitive due to globalization, new technology, increasing product proliferation, brand erosion, market segmentation, consumer skepticism and time poverty, rendering traditional business plans obsolete. For just about every product or service, there is an overwhelming number of choices to choose from, leaving consumers dazed and confused. So how

Customer Response Surveys Could Reap Big Benefits

As the convenience store and petroleum industry changes and evolves, retailers must continually battle blurred channels, changing technologies and decreased differentiation, one thing is constant: the experience you offer your customers can set you apart from your competition and keep your customers coming back. A great customer experience begins with knowing how your customers view

Foodservice Workers: How to Hire the Best

As convenience stores evolved from quick stops to full-blown foodservice centers that compete with the likes of Starbucks and McDonald’s, the need for top-notch employees has become as important as ever. Despite the increased demand required of employees, experts believe leading convenience store operators are in a good position to attract outstanding employees, they just

Staying Alive: Planning to Thrive!by Jim Callahan, Convenience Solutions

Staying Alive: Planning to Thrive! Staying Alive is both the title of an old disco tune, as well as a description of the challenge that today’s c-store operators face. C-store growth in numbers as well as quality continues unabated. I certainly don’t have all the answers about staying relevant, but I have some very interesting

Private Label Case Study: Tesco

Jim Hertel, the senior vice president of retail consultant Willard Bishop, spotlights international retailer Tesco PLC’s Fresh & Easy concept, which at presstime had been rolled into eight stores in Phoenix, with 26 more planned. Hertel noted that Tesco’s use of private label brands "turns a lot of conventional wisdom upside down. Many food retailers

To Market, To Market…

Every year, thousands of new products are introduced into an already crowded marketplace. In fact, a record-breaking 182,000 consumer packaged goods made their debut in 2007, up 17% jump over the previous year, according to Mintel International, a marketing research group. Some were hits, some were misses and some found their way onto convenience store

It’s All About New

Frequent new product launches have become de rigueur in the world of retailing, with customers expecting new product introductions on a regular basis. “Convenience customers love new items,” said Bill Tencza, senior category manager at Quick Chek, a chain with more than 100 stores in New Jersey and Southern New York. “And our customers look

Making It in the Marketplace

Driving business with new products is hardly a novel idea, but it’s also one that convenience store retailers rarely use to their advantage, said David Bishop, a partner with research and consulting firm Willard Bishop in Barrington, Ill. When retailers actively participate in the process of bringing a new product to the marketplace by helping

Michelada, Anyone?

Chelada, Anheuser-Busch’s new Clamato and beer beverage, isn’t really new at all. A variation of a beverage called Michelada, it belongs to a genre of drinks known in Spanish as cerveza preparada, which means prepared beer—a drink category that’s been around since at least the 1940’s in Mexico. One version of Chelada’s origins is that

Pivotal Year for Beer

What’s brewing in the beer category? A combination of higher prices, smaller crops, tighter dollars and expanded ethnic offerings may well make 2008 a memorable one for convenience store operators. A variety of forces are pushing and pulling the beer category in several directions. For instance, the higher prices of items like cigarettes and gasoline

Convenience Store Retailers Stepping Up Tobacco Lobbying Efforts

States are effectively cutting their own throats by continually hiking excise taxes on tobacco products–chasing away revenue, encouraging criminal behavior and unfairly penalizing smokers and retailers–and it’s up to the c-store industry to help them understand that. In fact many operators and state associations already are fighting the good fight by lobbying legislators, educating consumers,

Aisle Rage:It Starts on the Frontlines

magine yourself as the store manager of a major convenience store or supermarket chain. As you are busily building a new display, you notice two customers down an aisle that are in really close proximity to each other. The customers exchange sneers and you can feel the tension between them. One of the customers bumps

Five Steps To Build a Winning Corporate Culture

If I asked your employees, "What’s it like to work at your company? What kind of place is it?" their answers would largely describe your company culture. How would your employees answer? Would you like what you heard? If not, a leader’s responsibility is to change it. Some leadership teams attempt to create culture by

css.php