Single Store Owner

JUN 2016

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foodservice 44 / Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner / JUNE 2016 Prepared Food / Hot, Cold, Frozen Dispensed Beverages The platform also provides the operator with implementation assistance, including reevaluation steps that help refine the processes and programs for the long run to ensure a unique program is suc- cessfully implemented as planned and continues to evolve as required. If something doesn't work, single-store owners have the ability to quickly shift course — an enor- mous advantage over both their c-store chain and QSR competitors. Keeping pace with the needs and desires of your individual store's customers is integral in deciding which products to offer in your foodservice portfolio. "A single-store owner can be flexible. If prepared foods are not selling, you can stop doing it and change direction," offered Tim Powell, vice president of consulting at Q1 Productions . On the other hand, "evaluate vendors to see what kind of support they recommend. A single store may not get the attention from franchises or turnkey pro- viders that a 10-store chain or 100-store chain will," Powell continued. "Keep that in mind." Another risk a single-store owner might face is overabundance of common products such as chicken, pizza, subs and breakfast sandwiches. This can ulti- mately lead to difficulty in the single store establishing a point of differentiation from the local competition. "Some of this makes sense when you look at our markets and see that chicken, pizza and deli sandwiches are the top sellers in foodservice," ex- plained Miller. "However, if we continue to approach foodservice the same way we have with soft drinks and our core products, they become commoditized to the point that the only differentiators become location and price." Mandeltort suggests a unique method of un- derstanding the foodservice business. "Work in a restaurant for a month," he said. "You'll be smarter about foodservice than 90 percent of retailers. Foodservice is not something you can master by simply reading some articles in industry magazines or quoting industry statistics. It's not a category; it's a business that has its own rules, nuances and dy- namic. You need to understand why people eat what they do, where they do, and then execute foodservice programs that meet those needs." SSO is the "right fit" in support of his/her business? "I think it is important to have a grab-and-go program," recommended Dirks. "Subs are great because you can make fresh subs and create a grab- and-go sub program for times the foodservice op- eration is closed." For store owners opting to go the proprietary route, finding a local vendor that can supply fresh, tasty, grab-and-go sandwiches is vital. Determining labor costs is another essential con- sideration when evaluating a potential foodservice partner. "You should try to develop an operation that requires one or two employees to run it," said Dirks. "Labor costs will destroy profitability." However, while cost controls are indeed impor- tant, "cheaping out" is definitely not the way to go when it comes to product selection, according to our How To Crew experts. " Look beyond the price sheet. If you are buying [product] solely on price, you are truly never going to be able to differentiate yourself in the foodservice marketplace," advised Mandeltort. "You can't have great quality food if you are not willing to pay for it." A single-store operator who sells more foodser- vice items yields more sales not only for their store, but also for the distributor and the manufacturer. Rocket science, it ain't. "It's a win-win relationship, where support can be tailored to the needs of a single-store owner," said Veale. Toward that end, McLane offers a unique platform called McLane Kitchen. "The McLane Kitchen platform utilizes a four- step, reoccurring process to help operators of any size establish and grow a unique foodservice plat- form," explained Veale. "From research to plan- ning, McLane helps operators understand their goals and develop unique offerings that will draw foot traffic and provide a point of differentiation from their competitors." Foodservice 301: Call to Action Solicit marketing support from your foodservice partners and make sure this responsibility is explained in detail in any agreement. If you do not insist on an agreement that cov- ers these issues, then you should expect nothing more than receiving your order with the correct pricing. Make sure your foodservice operation differentiates your store from the local competition. Develop a strategy to offer key products while maintaining margin and a difference you can hang your hat on. This can include items such as spe- cially developed dipping sauces, unique salad ingredients and artisan breads. Other differentiators can be services like delivery, online ordering, and daily promotions that utilize social media to get your message out.

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