September 22, 2019
Are You In Good Relationships?
Now I know that you have already figured out that I’m not talking about your personal relationships with your family, your spouse or your mother in law! But I do hope that all of those are good to great for you! I am, however, referring to the relationships that your customers have with your c-store(s). Be certain that relationships do exist in how customers use your store(s) and that you have a great deal of influence on what they do or don’t buy and the reasons why they act the way they do.
In this year of higher gas prices the most common relationship that I hear c-store owners / operators refer to is the relationship between gasoline and inside sales. Gasoline gallons are down so it stands to reason that inside sales should be down too. Yet I know of many chains where this is simply not true. Their inside sales are up and their gasoline gallons are down.
So you ask, what are they doing differently? It’s probably a lot of things. But the one thing they all have in common is that they have taken the time to develop a basic understanding of what categories are likely to move together once a c-store customer makes an initial purchase. As a result, they design promotions that maximize the amount the customer will spend on that one purchase occasion.
At one time you may have heard this called satisfying the customers total “need state”. Only once in a while does the customer have the luxury of buying just one item when they stop to shop. They usually purchase multiple items to save time later on. In the morning it may be a fill up and a pack of cigarettes, or a cup of coffee on the way to work. In this time sensitive world most people won’t go to two stores to satisfy this one multiple need. It just takes too much time. So we need to ask ourselves, are we positioned to satisfy these multiple needs? Do we have good fresh coffee in the morning and a fair price on cigarettes?
If not, I would propose that if any category within your c-stores is not within the customers’ comfort level, such as, bad coffee, high cigarette price, and out of stocks, they will eventually go somewhere else. They may forgive you once, or maybe even twice, but eventually they will satisfy that need somewhere else. Like you and me, they just don’t have the time
A final thought regarding the relationship gasoline volume and store sales. I have seen it vary from a low of 19% to a high of 57%. What’s your relationship? The most successful stores and chains we deal with are on the high side.