Single Store Owner

JUN 2016

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JUNE 2016 / / 43 what one is getting into is essential." Arming yourself with the right informa- tion before you sign an agreement with a sup- plier also enables you to include items like sur- veys and focus groups as part of your supply agreement, pointed out How To Crew member Larry Miller, president and founder of San- ford, Fla.-based Miller Management & Con- sulting Services . "This will ensure that your supplier shares some of the costs necessary to keep you in business for the long run." Remember back in the early '90s when Bill Clinton and Al Gore infamously offered the advice of "Keep it simple, stupid" to themselves? Well, Dean Dirks, CEO of Gig Harbor, Wash.-based consultancy Dirks & Associates, offers the same advice to inde- pendent convenience store owners (minus the last word, of course). "A single-store owner doesn't want to carry a lot of inventory in terms of cash flow and over-ordering because it goes to waste," Dirks added. The Right Fit Everyone agrees that a single-store operator needs to find a supplier that complements the retailer in terms of product offerings, delivery schedules, etc. But that is much more easily said than done. So, what criteria should a single-store owner use to evaluate a potential foodservice partner to assure it Rather, single-store owners should determine their goals for the foodservice program and then choose partners that will ensure whatever decisions are made support these goals. Mathew Mandeltort, vice president of foodser- vice strategy at convenience distributor Eby-Brown Co. LLC and a How To Crew expert, agrees that doing your homework thoroughly is an important first step in designing a foodservice program for a single-store operator. Ultimately, it will help a small- business owner decide whether to add a foodservice partner, or perhaps to make a change to a partner- ship that is currently in place. "Research the franchises you are interested in so you have a complete understanding of what you are getting involved in," explained Mandeltort. "Search out franchisee user groups on the Internet to see what they are saying about the franchise." Several states require registration of franchise offerings, which can be a great source of information about a franchise, according to Mandeltort. "In Min- nesota, documents from the last three years are avail- able through the Commerce Actions and Regulatory Documents Search (CARDS) system," he explained. "These documents are public and may be copied." ( Recognize the Process After identifying your local competition — both c- store competitors and QSRs — single-store owners need to carefully evaluate what product mix is right for their store. Then, they should find foodservice partners that complement their existing foodser- vice portfolio, are able to fulfill future needs, and ultimately help them grow their business. Toward that end, it is imperative small-business owners consider whether it may behoove them to engage the services of a third-party foodservice consultant to assist in making key decisions, such as which partners make the right fit for their current situation and future plans. "That's one of the things that we bring to the table that we can offer our retail partners," said Eby- Brown's Mandeltort. "Each of our distribution centers has an experienced, knowledgeable foodservice man- ager who can guide them from ideation to execution." After evaluating their local competition, the next most important factor for a single-store operator to assess is what requirements in terms of labor and capital will be necessary to run an effective and profitable foodservice operation. "The second worst thing (besides being im- pulsive in execution) is attempting to undertake a foodservice program that is in stark contrast to what a single-store owner is willing or able to ex- ecute," noted McLane's Veale . "Fully understanding Foodservice 201: Call to Action Conduct a space-to-sales analysis. What space do you have that you can convert for foodservice? Remember, you need space not only for display- ing and selling products, but also for storage of ambient dry goods, refrigerated and frozen storage. Unique, well-executed programs drive traffic and help to generate brand awareness. When establish- ing a new foodservice program, leveraging the brand collateral of a branded partner or brands con- sumers are comfortable with can go a long way toward establishing consumer confidence. Any process/planning with a manufacturer should include your wholesaler to shorten the supply chain window and help troubleshoot prior to rollout.

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