Single Store Owner

APR 2016

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30 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / APRIL 2016 C onsumers are constantly evolving, so keeping abreast of the latest shopper research can be a valuable tool for the convenience store industry's single- store owners to ensure their offering is meeting, or better yet exceeding, the needs of current and potential customers. But industry research can only get you so far. Because no two convenience stores are exactly alike in their shopper base, single-store owners must have a strong understanding of who their best customers are, what keeps them loyal, and how they could be further served. Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner recently spoke with two single-store operators on opposite sides of the country to get their take on shopper strategy. Joe Fisher Owner/manager Dave's Food Mart, Norwalk, Ohio Single Store Owner: What percent- age of your overall business comes from your "regulars?" Fisher: I would say 75-80 percent are regular customers who come in frequently; daily. We have a real good mix of customers, but our dominant group is male, younger, blue-collar and Caucasian. SSO: What techniques do you use to keep your regulars satisfied? Fisher: We keep our regulars satisfied by keep- ing what they want in-stock. By in-stock, I am referring to if someone comes in for a six-pack of Budweiser in bottles or a king-size Reese's peanut butter cup, I have it in-stock and fresh. It makes a big difference that they don't have to settle for a different package, brand, or worse yet, go some- where else to get it. SSO: Are there any customer types that you're actively working to attract to your store? Fisher: We are trying to reach the younger genera- tion [late-teens, early 20s] and get them as loyal customers early. We sponsor lots of youth sports, and have started things like a Facebook page and Yelp for travelers. I just signed up to Yelp a few weeks ago, so I'm trying that out for the year to see what it does with tourists in the area. Facebook is something I've wanted to do for years, but never got around to it. It's a great tool to let your follow- ers know when you get that new craft beer in, or run a deli special. SSO: Do you actively seek customer feedback, and what techniques do you use? Fisher: The main way we get feedback is directly from our cashiers. We have a section on their shift sheet to write down customer suggestions for prod- ucts they wish to be able to get. Drinks are what people mainly suggest. Everyone knows if you had 100 cooler doors, you still wouldn't have enough room to carry everything the vendors try and sell you. What sells here may not sell there, so it's up to the store to decide what's in the cooler, not what big brand names tell you will sell. So, you need to listen to the people buying it, not those selling it to you. Two single-store owners on opposite coasts share their shopper strategies My Core Philosophy By DAnIeLLe RomAno Cover Story

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