mopping upwithout the mop

They say the minute a robot can do a job is the minute a person is no longer required to do that job. Employees might not want to hear that unless it is to perform an unpleasant task like cleaning the restroom. iRobot (www.irobot.com) partnered with The Clorox Co. to develop the Scooba Robotic Floor

cold hard cash

Indiana’s Circle A Food Stores jolts awake its packaged beverage sales with Water is vital to sustain any life, whether it be that of a human, ananimal or a beverage category. Despite a furious wave of new item introductionsin every beverage subcategory, consumers always seem to return to their colorless,odorless and tasteless master. “Our total

coffee talk

Espresso and cappuccino machines can elevate convenience stores to the same level as gourmet coffeehouses. Espresso and cappuccino are hot in more ways than one these days. Espressois an Italian-style coffee, usually made by the cup, using high-pressure hotwater forced through finely roasted coffee to create the distinct potency andflavor. Cappuccino is espresso mixed with

dailys grind

A commitment to compliance and community powers Daily’s in its quest to be Rick Hamilton had seen just about everything by the time he decided to enter the convenience retailing business. After returning home from a tour of duty in Operation Desert Storm in the early1990s, he settled in Nashville and went to work as

the most unlikely real estate

Forgive me if this note gets too personal. About 12 years ago, my then-girlfriend (now wife) Donna and I were traveling the Garden State Parkway to pursue some R&R down the Jersey Shore. Ninety minutes into our trip, we pulled off at the Frank S. Farley travel plaza to load up on provisions and to

new recruits

BP enlists a third-party ’matchmaker’ for help in recruiting African-American Executive leadership at BP West Coast Products LLC (La Palma, CA) hasbeen faced with the difficult challenge of attracting African-American franchiseesto its ampm store brand. The stores, which market ARCObranded gasoline, arenot being viewed as an attractive option by African-American entrepreneurs,according to Tony Padulo, director

effortless eats

A gourmet sandwich program gives Kwik Chek added food sales and additional menu items without adding labor. For a company whose foodservice strategy started out as “fry it, box it and hope they buy it,” Kwik Chek Food Stores (Bonham, TX) has come a long way. About 12 years ago Kwik Chek realized it had

insurance assurance

Lawsuits and fraud investigations targeting the soon-to-be embattled insurance industry have retailers reconsidering the coverage they pay for and from whom they buy it. Until it became the subject of billion-dollar fraud investigations,the mere mention of “insurance” would cause many retailers’ eyes to glaze overwith disinterest. But today, with criminal charges pending and millions of

irving keeps the promise

Irving Oil developed the ’Irving Promise’ as a guide to reinforce the importance of doing whatever it takes to simplify the lives of its customers throughout its network, including its newly reimaged Bluecanoe stores (see Making Over Mainway, p. 18). Irving Oil developed the “Irving Promise” as a guide to reinforce theimportance of doing whatever

making over mainway

Irving Oil’s Mainway stores make way for BLUECANOE, an uncommon concept driven by best-in-class service, an intense focus on fresh foods and a unique sense of humor. People don’t pay much attention to washroom signs. But at IrvingOil’s new Bluecanoe stores, the signs are tough to ignore. Tim Guen, senior brand manager for the Portsmouth,

milk money

Farm Crest Milk Stores gives its dairy doors the royal treatment. While some retailers skim by with a few facings of milk, Farm Crest serves its customer base of ’diggers’ with no fewer than five doors of all-natural dairy products. Denver’s Farm Crest stores compete in today’s modern convenience retailing arena by employing a 1950s-style

ad it up

Digital advertising networks boost the top line by funneling traffic from the great outdoors to inside the store. How to consistently transform gas customers into insidethe-store customersremains one of the great mysteries of our time. Retailers have tried a batteryof techniques— instore promotions with banners, advertisements blastingfrom overhead speakers, static ads on pumptoppers and streaming

Chew on This

Innovation in candy, gum and mints creates big opportunities and even bigger margins for space-challenged category managers. Consumers appear to be shying away from ‘intense’ or ‘extreme’ mints in favor of flavors. Convenience retailers should expect some volatility when it comes to famously unpredictable categories like tobacco and gasoline. But candy? Sweet, innocent candy? In

something to cluck about

Any fresh chicken program requires dedication, but see how a little ingenuity earned these retailers recognition and, oh yeah, thousands of dollars in chicken sales per week. By Kate Quackenbush, Managing Editor Despite their obvious size differences, 170-store Fas Mart Convenience Stores,23-store Johnson Oil and single-store operator One Stop Convenience Store allhave one thing in

casing the deli

Some O’Connell Oil stores receive upwards of 30 call-ahead orders per day. Store-made sandwiches are popular, but deli meats and platters are the big draw. Which came first, the deli or the sandwich program? Pittsfield, MA-based O’Connell Oil may be in the minority, but it was trying to become a destination for deli meats long

at their fingertips

Huck’s Food & Fuel (Carmi, IL) is no stranger to big ideas. The company’s latest brainstorm has the chain saving on phone calls made from stores to regional and district managers. It’s also getting operations staffers more involved in the decision-making process surrounding competitive gas pricing. A little more than a year ago, Huck’s President

fired up

Barbecuing brisket wasn’t anywhere on Rudolph Aue’s agenda in 1929, when heopened his one-pump country store in the tiny community of Leon Springs, TX,just a few miles west of San Antonio. In fact, it wasn’t until 60 years later,when Aue sold the operation, that the pit was first lit. The buyer was restaurateur Phil Romano,

drivethru goliath

This natural descendant of the c-store intends to offer everything from lottery tickets and liquor to groceries and fast food—all in a drive-thru format. Stephen Beardsley wants to out-convenience the c-store industry. Beardsley is president of AutoCart LLC (Las Cruces, NM), a company that plans on building a $13 million to $18 million “Drive-Thru Supercenter”

in the q

Anchored by Starbucks and other powerful food brands, Canadian Tire’s ’Q’ concept could have a dramatic effect on the retailing landscape north of the border. Canadian Tire Petroleum has sold gasoline since 1958, but even the company’s president will admit that its traditional convenience store offer has been less than imaginative—until recently. Canadian Tire Petroleum’s

payback with interest

Are you boring your associates right out the door? Trim turnover by keeping employees stimulated. Which item on the following list of job benefits is most important when it comes to keeping great convenience store employees on the payroll? Money Recognition Respect Interesting Work If you answered money, recognition or respect, you’re dead wrong. Although

pilot takes control

Pilot Travel Centers adapts to its growth by streamlining its payroll and human resources systems. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. As Pilot Travel Centers grew to 50 c-stores and 262 travel centers in 40 states with 14,000 employees, it became imperative for the company to streamline its payroll and human resources processes. Explosive

roll reversal

Eric Dean remembers walking into a store as a child with a note from his mother saying, “Please sell my son a pack of Pall Malls for me.” Things have changed a lot since then. Retailers have become much more responsible, for instance, by taking greater precautions to ensure that tobacco products don’t fall into

casework

Rotisserie chicken. Cold sandwiches. Pizza. Fresh fruit. Display cases boost the sales potential of any food item. Display cases hold and merchandise products effectively and offer customers a quick showing of the operator’s menu selections. The idea is to give Mr. Customer the opportunity to view the retailer’s fare—and increase the likelihood of him making

keep on truckin

Carrying on a local college tradition has given New York retailer Albert Smith new menu items and a new generation of grateful customers. In the 28 years Albert Smith has operated the Shortstop Deli (Ithaca, NY), he has never gotten a hug from a customer. Sure, his patrons appreciate that the coffee is fresh, that

fine dining at the circle k

A critic’s mock cooking competition paints convenience stores in a slightly more refined light. (Note the use of the word slightly.) Are the words “convenience store” and “gourmet foods” mutually exclusive? With a little help, according to one non-scientific “study,” virtually any convenience store can supply the goods for a delightful night of fine dining.

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