Single Store Owner

JAN-FEB 2016

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58 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 big ideas WOrdS Of WiSdOm Kwik Trip Inc. began its journey to becoming a Midwest conve- nience store powerhouse 50 years ago, so whom better to turn to for advice than the company's long-time CEO Don Zietlow, who was the 2015 retailer inductee into the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. According to Zietlow, people are the key to success in the c-store industry. "I always say we have to take care of two people: As owners, we have to take care of our co-workers as family; and our co-workers have to take care of the customers. If we take care of those two people, everything is good," Zietlow said. While the c-store business has its unique set of challenges — getting food right, credit card fees, government regulations, etc. — it also has its rewards, he noted. For Kwik Trip, the rewards include sharing the company's profits through an employee stock option plan. "Our co-workers are the greatest asset we have. They truly are," Zietlow explained. "The 40-percent profit sharing makes them part of the company. Good customer service, clean stores and clean bathrooms don't happen without our co-workers taking pride in their company." StOp Skimming in itS trackS Skimming at gas stations is a growing problem, but there are steps a fuel retailer can take to avoid fraud at the pump, as detailed in the recent Conexxus webinar titled "Combating Card Crime at the Fuel Island." "Everyone is very concerned about skimming at the dispenser," said moderator Kara Gunderson, POS manager for CITGO Petroleum Corp. "Florida found 103 skimmers in a three-month period. And it's hap- pening at convenience stores of all shapes and sizes. No c-store is exempt." C-store retailers should work with their service partners in an effort to reduce skimming incidents, en- couraged Tim Weston, senior product manager, North America, for Wayne Fueling Systems. In addition, operators should enable store personnel to request site inspections from professional technicians. Beyond that, technology is a good weapon in the fight against skimming. The webinar presenters offered the following advice: • Change dispenser locks to "site-unique" keysets; • Install dispenser access alarms; • Install a video surveillance system and run even when the store is closed; and • Watch for unscheduled service technicians ap- pearing at the pump. Make sure all service techni- cians are scheduled and check IDs. Petrowski did acknowledge, however, that hydrogen fueling may not take off immediately since consumers cannot retrofit a gasoline vehicle to accept hydrogen; they must purchase a specific hydrogen vehicle. Additionally, on the retailer side, building the infrastructure for a hydrogen fueling station — which can service four vehicles at one time — carries a price tag of approxi- mately $200,000. There are only a few hydrogen fueling stations thus far in the United States, but the number has begun to grow, according to Petrowski. alternative UniverSe During his keynote presentation at the Conve- nience Store News 2015 Fuels & Tech Summit, Joe Petrowski, former head of The Cumberland Gulf Group and now managing director of private eq- uity group Mercantor Partners, dubbed hydrogen a "significant fuel of the future." He sees a tremendous future for hydrogen as an alternative fuel for many reasons, including its local abundance, ability to provide the same fueling experience for customers in terms of fill-up times, and mouth-watering profit margins for conve- nience store retailers — as much as $5 per fill-up.

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