Convenience Store News

NOV 2016

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16 Guide to Foodservice | WWW.CSNEWS.COM Getting to the Next Level Industry experts exchange insights during Convenience Foodservice Exchange panel By Angela Hanson M ost convenience store operators are capable of running a basic food- service program, but taking it to the next level in terms of consumer satisfaction and profits is best achieved by learning from those with a deep knowl- edge of c-store foodservice. Members of the Convenience Store News How To Crew of foodservice experts weighed in on a variety of category-related topics during the "Ask The Experts" panel at the Convenience Foodservice Exchange, mod - erated by CSNews Editorial Director Don Longo. The panelists included: • Larry Miller, Miller Management & Consulting Services • Tim Powell, Q1 Consulting • Joe Chiovera, XS Foodservice & Marketing • Justin Miklos, Director of Foodservice, Coen Oil Co. • Tom Cook, Principal, King-Casey The panel agreed that coffee is king of the beverage side of foodservice, partially due to its high margins and easy preparation. It is also popular across many demographic groups, making a coffee program a sound investment for c-stores. Chiovera noted that along with its ability to trigger other purchases, as the vast majority of customers add both sweet and savory items to go with their java, c-store coffee has one advantage over competitors. "What we still own is customization — we lost con- venience a long time ago" compared to coffee retailers that offer drive-thrus, Chiovera said. However, c-store customers can make their own cup exactly as they want it. "The best cup of coffee made for Joe is by Joe." Advances in retail foodservice equipment have also made for operational improvements, but they must be used correctly, the experts said. For exam- ple, a rapid-cook oven that is used to make items that will remain in a warmer for two hours is not being utilized efficiently. Whether used for coffee or not, drive-thrus may be the ultimate convenience, but the specific layouts and locations of c-stores mean that they don't fit all operations. For retailers that are considering adding a drive-thru, Chiovera said, "If you're purchasing real estate for foodservice, without question, I think it's the smartest move you could possibly make." However, if an existing store is being retrofitted and there is some doubt about whether the site's features would enable a drive-thru to drive sales, it might not be appropriate. Powell noted that some cannibalization of impulse items may occur at c-stores that add a drive-thru, but the opportunity to substantially increase overall sales due to the convenience factor makes the sacrifice worth it. " This is a real opportunity area for the category." According to the panelists, other issues c-store foodservice operators should be aware of include: afternoon snacking as a long-term trend; continued equipment advances as manufacturers follow retail foodservice innovation; and a shift in how the current generations view c-store food. Millennials are already more accepting of c-store food quality, and certain products such as fresh salads can be worth using as loss leaders to show women in particular that a c-store is offering more of the types of foods they want. CSN Members of Convenience Store News' How To Crew panel of foodservice experts weighed in on the issues of most importance to c-store foodservice operators.

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