Should Your C-Store Add a Food Service Option?
Fast food has always led the market in offering ready-prepared meals hot and ready for each customer that passes through via car or by foot. With a fast-paced lifestyle, some hard workers find it difficult to find the time or strength to break out their recipes after work for their family. Thus, fast food has made a great income in offering cheap and addicting delicious treats roasting in their aluminum-type foils that parents can easily pick up for their families for dinner or anyone can quickly indulge in on their way to work.
As c-stores have traditionally offered snacks and drinks through the years, the food service industry is changing. There seems to be a merging of fast food and convenience stores already. As you see more fast food chains combining their restaurant with c-stores like truck stops more and more, c-stores are getting wind that offering a food service program may be the way to help bring in some extra revenue.
After all, consumers go to c-stores to either pump gas or pick up something along the way to home. Therefore, how much more revenue could your c-store make if you offered hotdogs, healthy sandwiches, pizza, and other items that are popular in your area? For those consumers that are too tired to cook for their family or even for themselves, imagine offering plump rotisserie chicken or family pack of sandwiches.
Investing in your business should always be a positive action. The trick is to ensure you invest in the right things. Therefore, when starting to offer food service options, you should consider the following:
- Test the Market. Get to know your customers before just fully committing to any handful of meals. Consider experimenting with different food options to see what sells best for your area and if offering steamy meals is a value to your c-store. Get creative to find the trends. Strike a temporary deal with a local restaurant or other food service distributors to offer some prepared products at your c-store. Start with a breakfast menu and then extend to lunch. You can even find a food truck that comes certain days a week to park and attract people into your store!
- Consider products to help advertise. Technology is a great resource to help you probe your area’s tastes and needs. It can bring convenience, get customers out the door faster, and provide an opportunity for your c-store to connect with customers. The answer may not always be getting the newest trending piece of equipment but technology can sure help a business run smoother, faster, and efficiently to the point that even more money pours in because a c-store owner can concentrate more on the tasks that need more attention. In fact, you can even make it easier on your customers by investing in technology that makes ordering food easy. Check out Gilbarco’s food service ordering option to make ordering meals easy for the customer.
- Expand the program. Once you understand the success of certain products and the food service trend of your area, you can now take a bigger leap and commit to the chosen meals for a longer term. Dedicate more floor space to the new additions near checkout to capture those impulse sales, stock products at peak times in the day, and leverage social media and technology to get the word out. Advertise! Find ways to bring the 30% of customers that only hangout in the forecourt for gas. If you want to a tool to help lure those customers in, leverage Applause which can not only bring entertainment to the forecourt but also get those customers inside the store.
- Keep improving. People change. Therefore, businesses change. When you sell to people, you have to constantly keep up with the changes. The business world has shifted into a customer-focused marketing tactics. Plug-ins and cold calls are no longer of value. Instead, connecting with customers to build a relationship is more of not only the trend but the best way to sell. Thus, it is important to constantly test newer products and check in to see what is still great to sell and what is no longer a hot commodity. Always keep your c-store up to date and never stop improving it.
In 2015, there was a 20.8% growth in the sale of prepared foods. Just observe 7-11 and Sheetz, these merchants have been in the game and has shown that offering meal options has great advantages.
For more information, check out Gilbarco’s food service ordering option.