CSD/NAG Idea of the Day: Classes for Managers

Lit Light BulbToday’s idea of the day:

Give classes to help managers at each store learn how to read a P&L.

By teaching managers how to read a profit and loss (P&L) statement you’re also showing them what you are tracking and how you are tracking it, how losses impact the company and the costs and expenses that the sales dollars need to cover. What’s more, it helps them feel a sense of ownership in protecting the bottom line.

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Erin Rigik Del Conte at edelconte@csdecisions.com.



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QMart Markets to Millennials

A Snapchat geo-filter will help QMart to engage with Millennial consumers at the ACL Music Festival.

qmart-cstore-snapchat-geo-filter-setp-2016_-iphone-snap3002533By Amber Koontz, Editorial Assistant

QMart, a chain of 24 convenience stores owned and operated by Northwest Petroleum, has announced that it will offer an on demand Snapchat geo-filter at the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festival, which is scheduled to take place at Zilker Park for two consecutive weekends in Austin, Texas. The event will take place from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 and Oct. 7-9, and it is expected to draw 500,000 attendees.

A Snapchat on demand geo-filter is a branded, custom graphical overlay that identifies the user’s geographic location and allows users to take a photo or video and select an overlay to accompany the photo or video. To use a Snapchat geo-filter, users must be in a specific geographical location, which is referred to as the “geo-fence.” The geo-fence for the QMart filter encompasses the entire southeast side of the Austin City Limits Music Festival grounds. Users in the geo-fence can simply take a photo or video then swipe right to choose the “QMart @ ACL” geo-filter.

“Snapchat on-demand geo-filters offer a massive competitive advantage since 1) many brands have not tapped into this and 2) millions of Millennial Snapchat users love to share filters even if they are branded,” said Meelad Al-Arashi, marketing and public relations manager for QMart. “I decided to implement this unique digital engagement strategy to increase brand name awareness and recognition of our QMart convenience stores at a festival that draws more than half a million people with the hunch that no other convenience store would be present at the festival, let alone putting the geo-filter to use.”

Al-Arashi noted that Millennials say that they spend approximately 40% of their day on Snapchat. “It’s the definition of a no-brainer from a marketing and branding standpoint.”

QMart hopes that the brand’s unique filter will encourage Millennials to engage with the company and to share the brand’s image with their friends. Marketers are spending more on engaging with Millennials than any other group, and as Millennials account for 70% of all Snapchat users, this strategy seemed to be the perfect way to engage with Millennial consumers.

“Our goal is to cater to Millennials’ interests, and that translates to being where they are, all the time,” Al-Arashi said. “Millennials said they shop at c-stores almost every day. With Snapchat we hope to link Millennial shopping behaviors with social interests.”

The QMart Snapchat filter extends from the Festival’s Platinum Shuttle boarding area to the Miller Lite Game Hall. The area includes Tito’s Vodka Plinko Parlor, the VIP Grove, the Platinum Lounge and State Farm’s Quick Help station.




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Thorntons Partners with Alessi Bakery

Thorntons is now offering a variety of fresh bakery items in its Florida stores.

thorntons_alessi-bakeryThorntons has entered into a new partnership with Alessi Bakery in Tampa, Fla. Through this new partnership, Alessi Bakery products are now available in Thorntons’ Florida locations.

Alessi Bakery is a Tampa, Fla. favorite that offers a traditional bakery feel. A focus on quality, hard-work and consistency over four generations has been the perfect recipe for success.

Through Alessi Bakery, Thorntons will provide guests with a variety of quality donuts, pastries and more. Thorntons guests will experience a quality product with a new, great taste.

Guest favorites, like Cinnamon Buns and Cronuts, will be part of the bakery lineup as Thorntons continues to add new and exciting flavors. A single donut costs 99 cents and fancy donuts and muffins cost $1.69. All bakery items are made fresh by Alessi Bakery and delivered daily.


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Gulf Expands in Florida and Texas

Gulf is continuing its U.S. expansion by offering its branded wet barrel supply in a number of new markets.

GULFlogo2Gulf Oil has announced the expansion of its branded wet barrel supply offerings in Tampa, Fla and a number of Texas market areas. This new service offering is a part of Gulf’s growth initiative in Florida and Texas, which are a part of the company’s continued U.S. expansion.

Hillsborough County, Fla. supports major thoroughfares connecting countless Floridian locals and tourists to the Tampa, Fla. area and other coastal destinations. Gulf’s partnership with Tampa-based fuel distributors will resonate with tourists that may be unfamiliar to the area, but recognize and trust the Gulf name as a leader in quality fuels and customer service.

“Gulf has a long-standing history of providing exceptional service to our customers and consumers. We look forward to building new branded partnerships with fuel distributors in the Florida market by providing flexible service offerings to assist with their business growth. We will continue our unwavering support as the brand expands further into the Tampa region,” said Meredith L. Sadlowski, senior vice president, branded sales and marketing at Gulf Oil.

Gulf has other branded locations in Florida and now is providing the same opportunities for fuel distributors in the Tampa market. The company has also recently announced expansion into major Texas markets, including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Waco.

Founded in Beaumont, Texas over 110 years ago, Gulf is proudly continuing its return to the Lone Star State and expects that this new supply option will help fuel future growth for Gulf distributors.

Gulf maintains strong brand loyalty from customers who have respected the iconic orange disc logo since the company pioneered the concept of branded product sales in the early 20th century. The quality and consistency of the products of the brand remain the hallmarks of the company today.

“We are pleased to be able to provide motorists with quality Gulf branded fuel and look forward to continued growth with our partners here in the great state of Texas, where the Gulf legacy was born in the early 1900s,” said Todd O’Malley, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Gulf Oil.

Distributors who partner with Gulf can rely on dependable supply, flexible service offerings, outstanding customer service from an experienced management team, a commitment to continued growth, and an increased brand presence.


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Retailers Applaud Postponement of Federal Overtime Regulations

The new deadline for the new overtime regulations is July 1, 2017, six months after the initial implementation date.

NRF Logo_no Tagline_stack_R

The House has officially voted to pass the legislation which will delay the Labor Department’s expansion of the overtime rules. The new overtime rules will now be delayed for six months after their initial implementation date of Dec. 1. The National Retail Federation (NRF) praised the passage of this legislation.

Prior to the vote, NRF told lawmakers in a letter that action on the legislation would be included in its annual voting scorecard.

“Lawmakers from both parties recognize that the administration’s radical changes to overtime rules are too much, too fast,” NRF senior vice president for government relations David French said. “With the December 1 compliance deadline looming, the window for congressional action is quickly closing. Pushing pause on implementing these one-size-fits-all regulations would provide welcome breathing room for retailers large and small struggling to comply with the changes during the holidays, their busiest time of the year. We urge the Senate to help millions of employers and employees by stepping in to help fix or delay the overtime rules.”

The Regulatory Relief for Small Businesses, Schools and Nonprofits Act approved today would give employers an extra six months to come into compliance with new overtime rules that are set to take effect December 1 by pushing the deadline to June 1, 2017.

The new regulations will require employers to pay overtime to most workers who make up to $47,476 per year when they work more than 40 hours a week, more than double the current threshold of $23,660. Despite the dramatic increase, a recent survey by human resources company Paychex Inc. found that 49% of business owners polled were unaware of the change.

Research conducted for NRF shows that the regulations will force employers to limit hours or cut base pay in order to make up for added payroll costs, leaving most workers with no increase in take-home pay despite added administrative costs. A separate survey found that the majority of retail managers and assistant managers the regulations are supposed to help oppose the plan.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the U.S. and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation.


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Dunkin’ Donuts to Launch New RTD Coffee Line

Dunkin’-Donuts-LogoDunkin’ Donuts has announced that it will soon be entering into the ready-to-drink coffee category.

On National Coffee Day, Dunkin’ Donuts has announced that, in early 2017, the company will launch of a new line of Dunkin’ Donuts branded ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee beverages in the U.S. The new line will be manufactured, distributed and sold by The Coca-Cola Co.

This marks Dunkin’ Donuts’ first entry into the ready-to-drink coffee category, which has enjoyed very strong growth over the past five years and represents $2.3 billion dollars in annual sales according to Nielsen. The agreement supports Dunkin’ Donuts’ goal of strengthening its position as a coffee authority and further extends the Dunkin’ Donuts brand into new distribution channels.

“We are delighted to be working with The Coca-Cola Co., a world-class partner that will provide us with world-class consumer access, by bringing ready-to-drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to the refrigerator cases of grocery, convenience stores and mass merchandisers, as well as inside Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, across the U.S.,” said Dunkin’ Brands chairman and CEO Nigel Travis. “This new product introduction will increase consumption of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and increase our brand relevance with existing and new consumers, including many younger customers, which we believe will in turn, drive incremental visits to our restaurants.”

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Coca-Cola Co. will produce Dunkin’ Donuts ready-to-drink coffee beverages according to Dunkin’ Donuts specifications, including using high-quality Arabica coffee blends. Coca-Cola’s extensive network of bottling partners will sell and distribute Dunkin’ Donuts ready-to-drink beverages, which will include real milk and sugar in a variety of flavors.

Dunkin’ Donuts also announced that it would equally share with qualified U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees its net profits from the sales of ready-to-drink coffee through outlets outside of its restaurants.

“We are an almost 100% franchised company, and our mission is to drive our brand relevance and to drive the profitability of our Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees,” added Travis. “Our research has clearly shown that ready-to-drink coffee consumption is a separate occasion from the purchase of our restaurant-brewed iced coffee. That same research also shows that having a ready-to-drink coffee product builds brand loyalty. We strongly believe that this product launch is good for customers and for our franchisees.”

Dunkin’ Donuts has partnered with The Coca-Cola Co. since 2012 to serve Coca-Cola products, including soft drinks, juices, enhanced waters and energy drinks, at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the U.S. and select markets around the globe.


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New eTIPS Version Improves Alcohol Sales Certification Process

Health Communications TIPS LogoeTIPS 3.0 helps cashiers and clerks build skills and gain confidence when and ensures that alcohol is sold responsibly and legally.

Health Communications Inc. (HCI) has released a new version of its online alcohol sales training and certification program, eTIPS Off Premise 3.0. The eTIPS training and certification program is designed specifically for clerks, cashiers and managers of grocery, convenience and package stores.

Over 443,000 servers and sellers of alcohol have been certified in eTIPS since HCI released the online version of its program in late 2005. eTIPS Off Premise 3.0 improves the overall student experience through a newly designed HTML5 course, which provides increased stability, new features and improved content. As an alternative to Flash, HTML5 technology provides a more effective way to deliver eTIPS courses on both computers and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

eTIPS 3.0 participants continue to view thought-provoking video clips and are asked to assess the needs of the customers from both a legal and alcohol-related perspective. The course provides participants with strategies for preventing alcohol sales to underage and/or intoxicated customers. The primary goal of the program is to build skills, instill confidence and empower cashiers and clerks to step in to situations and ensure that alcohol is sold responsibly and legally. Employees and managers who participate are able to prevent sales to minors, recognize signs of intoxication, effectively intervene to prevent problem situations and handle refusal situations with greater confidence.

In addition to optimizing the eTIPS 3.0 courses for mobile devices, HCI has made several refinements based on feedback received from customers. Participants will find that the eTIPS 3.0 courses have a sharp new look, the videos are much larger and clearer, and the courses include downloadable Job Aids that can be used after the course has been completed. The Job Aids serve as a reference and reminders on customer service guidelines, behavioral cues, BAC, intoxication rate factors and other concepts.

eTIPS training is a self-paced, innovative approach to alcohol training. The course allows alcohol sellers to obtain the training anywhere, anytime. “It is imperative that operators keep their customers safe, while protecting their employees, stores, and franchises from lawsuits. By certifying their employees through eTIPS, store owners are proactively taking measures to prevent underage sales, drunk driving and intoxication. In addition, stores will improve customer service and demonstrate to the community that they are in the forefront when it comes to preventing alcohol sales to underage or intoxicated customers,” remarked Adam Chafetz, president and CEO of Health Communications.

In 35 years, HCI has certified over five million servers worldwide in the TIPS program. There are TIPS-certified people in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and over 50 foreign countries. TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) is a classroom-based training program that gives servers and sellers of alcohol the knowledge and confidence they need to recognize potential alcohol-related problems, and teaches them how to effectively intervene to prevent alcohol-related tragedies. With eTIPS, that quality training is now available in both the classroom and online.


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C-Store Executive Shares Why Biodiesel is Good for Business

Jon Scharingson, Executive Director, Sales and MarketingBy Jon Scharingson, Renewable Energy Group Inc.

A lot of times in this space, I tell you why offering biodiesel makes good business sense for convenience stores.

This time, I’m going to let someone else do the talking — namely, a representative from a large c-store company that has experienced the benefits of biodiesel blended fuel firsthand.

Jim Pirolli, vice president of fuels for the Kum & Go chain, said that one of the many reasons biodiesel has been good for his company is that it’s an environmentally friendly fuel at a time when there is growing awareness of and support for sustainable practices.

“I think the sustainability factor is very important,” Pirolli said. “Reducing carbon emissions and replacing fossil fuels with something that’s more environmentally friendly is a message that a lot of people can get behind, whether they’re fleets or individual drivers.”

When Pirolli talks about giving customers the products they want, he’s talking about a lot of customers. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company has more than 400 stores in 11 states that serve about 500,000 customers daily.

Biodiesel Boosts Performance
Kum & Go has a long history with biofuels, first offering an ethanol blend in the late 1970s. About a decade ago, it introduced biodiesel and now blends biodiesel into nearly all of its diesel fuel. That varies from 5% to 20% (known as B5 and B20), and it offers biodiesel year-round, even in the middle of winter at its stores in the upper Midwest and mountain regions.

It’s important, Pirolli says, that a c-store purchases high-quality biodiesel. (Full disclosure: Kum & Go is a REG customer.)

“Everything we do on fuel is based on customer demand and quality, foremost,” he said. “With biodiesel, the fuel has some unique performance characteristics. There are a lot of BTUs available in biodiesel. That means more power and better fuel economy. It also has a high lubricity ratio. So, when we can use more biodiesel, that’s going to provide better performance for customers, and also potentially lower our diesel retail price.”

Sustainability as Core Value
Then there’s sustainability, which is not only about meeting customer demand. Sustainability has become a core piece of Kum & Go’s culture. That’s demonstrated not only in the fuel lineup but also the more than 100 LEED-certified stores they’ve built, the availability of recycling at fuel dispensers and other initiatives.

“Kum & Go sees biofuel blends fitting into our sustainability goals in a couple of different ways,” Pirolli said. “First of all, we’re located in one of the highest-producing regions for corn and soybeans, and that means that, by promoting biofuels at our stores, we’re helping farmers achieve a better corn or soybean price and are supporting domestic production of biofuels. And then we’re offering customers in the local regions a better economic value on their fuel.”

Jon Scharingson oversees the sales and marketing efforts for Renewable Energy Group Inc., a leading biodiesel producer.


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