Low in-store sales, high employee turnover and declining gross profit margins are just a few of the problems Roy Strasburger, president of Convenience Management Services Inc. (CMSI), may encounter when he and his team take over a convenience store and gas station.
Temple, Texas-based CMSI’s mission, simply put, is to operate retail locations for those who don’t want to operate them, or don’t have the expertise or infrastructure to operate them properly. However, an operational takeover is never all that simple.
In many instances, CMSI encounters small operators whose businesses are failing in multiple aspects — from meager food quality, to poor customer service, to outdated store aesthetics — and need to be turned around in order to survive and then thrive in today’s competitive retail environment.
Strasburger recently sat down with Convenience Store News and shared four key pieces of advice for convenience store retailers who are struggling:
- Be proactive. “Try and look at your store as if it weren’t your store. Look at it with a fresh set of eyes, especially if you’re constantly at the store,” he advises. “Bring in someone who will look at what needs to be done and do it.”
- Understand that out-of-stocks are not a good thing — especially for small operators. “If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it. If something is sold out, yes it’s good [because you made a sale], but it’s not good because the product cannot be sold again until it is back in the store,” according to Strasburger. “Control and invest in backstock, especially for grab-and-go foodservice. This can drive additional sales.”
- Employee training is critical. “This doesn’t always apply to small operators, but you can empower employees by letting them know what they’re supposed to do. It makes them happier and ultimately results in a better customer experience,” he said.
- It is possible to win customers back into the store. “There’s basic advertising, cleaning the store, and word of mouth. Be careful not to target just Bubba. From a presentation point of view, we don’t think we’re successful until we get a good amount of female customers back in the store,” Strasburger concluded.