Category: Tips

C-Store Cigarette Scan Data Software Increases Tobacco Sales

C-Store Cigarette Scan Data Software Increases Tobacco Sales

C-Store cigarette scan data software increases tobacco sales by getting rebates from Altria and RJR and by increasing your sales volume using discounts that are reimbursed to you. If you have loyalty you can dramatically increase the value by giving your clients as much as $1 per transaction – again reimbursed to you. So you get more traffic, more sales and increased value for your customers.

What’s the Catch?

It seems to be too good to be true. While it is true, there are conditions. These conditions include

Cigarette Scan Data Conditions

  1. Contract with your vendors (Altria and/or RJR)
  2. Weekly tobacco sales data submissions
  3. Pricing according to the contract terms
  4. Pricing anomaly explanations
  5. Quarterly reimbursement
  6. Scan Data Collection Software
  7. Altria Scan Data Multipack and Loyalty program certification
  8. RJR Scan Data Multipack and Loyalty program certification

It helps when you have a cigarette rep that knows the program and helps you get started. Also make sure your processor understand the details of all the different rebate issues and has a track record of getting full payments for their clients (i.e., carton, multipack and loyalty). Of course, it helps to be able to contact a knowledgeable person who will help you get it done. Sometimes the program and technology can be a bit frustrating in the beginning. Find the right partner and make it happen. Drive more sales and save your customers a lot of money.

Make sure to get references to be sure the processor has experience with both Altria and RJR scan data certifications. That is, they address all the different parts of the certification:

  1. Basic file submission for up to 10 cents a carton
  2. Multipack certification. Make sure you get your reimbursements.
  3. Loyalty processing certification. This one is often worth more than the others
  4. No loyaltly program? Ask if they have a cigarette-only loyalty process

C-Store Scan Data – Related links

If you enjoyed this blog, you can find more information in these links:
Increase Cigarette Sales 10% and more!
C-Store Cigarette Scan Data Software – Product Information.

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C-Store Managers – What Do You Need to Increase Sales?

We asked our best C-Store Managers – What Do You Need to Increase Sales?

We often work with top stores that already have great customer service, nice clean stores and top results. We expected to hear that they needed more money for new hires and bigger bonuses for increased sales results. We certainly heard about more money with a few of the responses. Everyone wants to hire good people and be rewarded for achieving good results. Good companies, however, already pay well.

What we heard the most may surprise you. We took the feedback from dozens of top managers over the course of several months of sales consulting. We watched and listened to what they needed to increase upselling and drive net profits. Perhaps more interesting was what we did not hear as the most important needs:

NOT On the Most Needed List

  1. More Money for Store Managers
  2. Loyalty Programs
  3. Better Locations

Clearly, the above items can help increase sales, but these store managers were focused on addressing what they thought they could control, yet did not cost a lot of money. That is, what things can they manage as a company that impact sales without hurting profits. So here are the top items they listed:

Top Items Store Managers Need to Increase Sales

  1. Cigarette Multi-Pack Discounts
  2. Better Promotions
  3. Gas Toppers that Drive Traffic Inside (e.g., Food)
  4. Ready to Eat Food Options
  5. Visits from Owners and Top Managers
  6. Bathrooms in Full Working Order

They brainstormed items and ranked the most important. They felt they could work with suppliers to use promotional money that was available to help their staff increase sales by providing high value to customers while maintaining the margins due to supplier incentives. Even signs can be provided by suppliers with new products or hot specials that matter to customers. Of course, food is such a big area these days. Maybe the most surprising was the simple things they wanted from top management – store visits and help with maintenance items. Their staff is much more likely to do just a little extra when they see their owners and managers in the store motivating them and keeping the store a nice place to be proud to work in.

Related Information – C-Store Operations Assessment

If you work on things like up-selling, you probably care a lot about C-Store Operations and Performance. Take a free assessment of your C-Store operations. You will receive a written summary along with ideas to try to make operations a little better: Rate Yourself – C-Store Performance Assessment.

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Controlling Labor Hours to Match C-Store Sales

Control Your C-Store Operations

One of the most challenging jobs is getting the labor allocation to match sales in a C-Store. There are many things that are important to control in a C-Store. Getting the labor right is a key to ensure you have good operations with the labor costs that match the store sales when they happen. Too much – you hurt profits, too little – you risk bad service and lost sales.

Many companies are starting to use their sales data to align the hours to the sales that occur. There is always need for cleaning and stocking, but working the hours to match traffic allows the store to have the necessary staffing and keep the hours on track to hit performance goals. There are only so many hours available so it is key to assign them at the right time.

There are a few things that help when using sales to determine the labor hours:

  1. total sales and customers by hour
  2. same day comparison for several weeks to see trends
  3. day of week compared to other days
  4. average sale, discounts, loyalty
  5. inside versus outside traffic

Allocating Labor Hours in Your C-Store

With a good understanding of historical sales by the day of week and broken down by hour, labor can be scheduled to match the busy times. There are times when the registers will be the most busy and times when other tasks must be done. Together, a manager can utilize the hours to match the operational needs with the store sales.

Related Information – C-Store Operations Assessment

You may want to take an assessment of your C-Store operations It provides a written summary along with ideas for new things to consider: C-Store Performance Assessment.

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Tips from the front lines, now collected in one book

Winning C-Store customers and keeping them is the result of smart work by everyone who works in a convenience store, from the team who keep the coolers humming to the owner. We’ve been posting videos for several weeks and this book is a collection of those tips, plus many more, from those people who make C-Stores work well. If You Have Time to Lean, You Have Time to Clean documents not only the tips from the best c-store operators as well as Store Performance – a system that the best operators use to make their stores run efficiently, achieve financial goals, make their customers happy, and retain key staff.

“I took the time to read your book and I want you to know that it was well worth it. I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. I will order additional copies for each of my managers. It will surely help them in training their new employees.”

– John Plasky, Operations Manager

You can order the book from Amazon at by clicking on our homepage. We’re also making special arrangements for associations to share the book with their members at special rates. If you are interested, contact us at info@bandyworks.com or call us 804.733.8844.

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4 Ways to Make Your C-Store Database Sell More Snickers

Every C-Store owner challenges us data geeks to do something useful, like selling more Snickers. They often tease that data cannot sell anything or help with the real work of providing convenience. We know they are right in many ways. Of course it is the C-Store staff that does the real work to make service great and keep customers visiting. But knowing you are not selling enough Snickers bars and quickly seeing why is something data can do to help. Even better, corrective actions can be recommended based your operating procedures and company experience base when these items are identified and brought forward as urgent matters to address. The result can be better actions based on feedback found within your data.

In makes sense intuitively, all C-Store Managers have key performance indicators that they watch, using their database makes it easier to identify, communicate and even improve results. Many operators, however, do want to keep a steady watch on the numbers and know that tracking accurately does make a difference to the way staff work and indeed how many snicker bars are sold.

But still it has to be more than just objective numbers or the monthly financial statements. Most C-Store operators have a key set of criteria:
1. TIMELY
It must be timely. If the data comes too late, it is much harder to think about the cause and come up with an action. If a problem is revenue related it increases the loss

2. SIMPLE
It must be simple to understand. Scorecards for operations people must be simple and quik or they will not use them. Operations people are too busy working with customers where they cannot take a lot of time each day to
analyze and process.

3. MEANINGFUL
It must be a comparison to something important
a. Same day last week
b. Same week last year
c. Same holiday
d. Similar weather

Numbers without context are not very helpful. If you have comparison numbers you can tell quickly which direction things are heading. Of course, there are other circumstances but comparing the same store numbers to similar
situations makes things more useful. No one would compare an 18 bay interstate store to a 2 bay rural store and expect to see similar numbers.

4. CONTROLLABLE
It must be something that can be controlled. Almost every C-Store operator expects the store manager to do a lot more with inside sales than gas. Gas sales are much harder to control. The more control the person feels they can have, the more likely they will be motivated by business intelligence. Balancing the view and the measurements between financial, operational, customer and training can give a store manager a fair approach and make it clear that they can, if not control, exert great influence over their results.

So just like any good team, it takes participation to get optimal results. Business Intelligence alone will not make a great store, but teamed with the right staff and leadership it can drive your performance.

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Making the Effort to “Re-Zeal”

All employees of a C-Store have responsibilities. Whether it is managing the company, buying inventory, overseeing operations, serving customers or raising a family, people spend their time seeking objectives, solving problems and handling what comes to them each day.  This stress is normal life.

If to think of your productivity as a battery, it is very easy to see how one can run down and lose their power to go on. It happens to everyone. This is to talk about when life stress becomes internal stress. That is the time to Re-zeal!  You need to do whatever it takes to recharge where you are ready and even eager to start each day.

Needed

The time to re-zeal is when you find yourself losing your effectiveness at work, getting irritated often or just finding it hard to wake up in the morning having to face another day.   It is this  internal stress in an individual that causes a lack of effectiveness and irritability.  This is why there are weekends or days off. Whether you are running the C-Store company, buying the company’s inventory or serving its customers, routine tasks just wear a person out.  The break in routine gives you time to recharge. The more routine things are, the more likely this is to happen.  Allowing yourself and your employees time to re-zeal can make a difference in Store Performance, negotiating  prices with your vendors, having happier customers and your overall profits.  So, you may be asking, how does one re-zeal?

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Internal stress is usually created when your wheel of life is imbalanced. Good News as a great online article that discusses the theory on the wheel and its components. To explain it simply, it divides the areas of your life into a pie shaped chart where all are to be valued the way you want them to be.  For the intent of this article, lets say they are all to be equal.   Internal stress begins when the portions are starting to shift.  They are no longer equal.  The re-zeal happens when you do something to shift them back to your required equal sizes.  This could mean spending some time clearing out your inbox on the weekend, pressure washing your patio, taking your mate out to dinner or attending your child’s school play.  The key is to look at your wheel and see where things are slipping.  Then take the action that is needed in order to move these facets of life back to equal proportions.

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There may be some guilt associated with  taking the time to put the wheel in order.  It may mean working when you are to be with family or not thinking about work at all when you probably should.  If in a constant state of taking care of things, one can expect to take time from one area to realign the other.  What is done this time to re-zeal may not work next time.  It takes a small amount of time to look at the wheel and see what needs fixing when it happens. Everyone’s wheel is different and as time goes by, you may find your own wheel changes.  In fact the problem can also be it is time for your wheel to change.  What is important to understand that in taking this personal time to re-organize, you are taking care of others so you can be the efficient and effective person you know you can be in all areas of your life.  You will stay on top of your game and ensure your involvement in your company, whatever your role, is optimal.

 

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Don’t Let your C-Store Performance Problems be a Surprise

Everyone knows that life has surprises and life has problems. The trick is to do what you can to make sure those problems are not surprises. If you are looking at your C-Store performance on a monthly basis, you may be well aware of that wisdom. As software developers who have worked for companies of all sizes and in many industries, our company has solved this problem for decades. Someone starts adding up the costs and decides a straight-forward, daily monitoring process is needed. Though the information requested may have been different, there were always two requirements for the tracking of their KPI’s

1. See the results of their specific KPI’s at any time
2. See it on one page

Bing defines KPI as follows:

KPI

DEFINITION:  key per·for·mance in·di·ca·tor.  NOUN
1.a quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organization, employee, etc., in meeting objectives for performance: “key performance indicators show big improvements and delivery times have been reduced”

The past tense (i.e., ‘delivery times have been reduced’) that is used in the example of this definition is exactly what can cost a company money. KPI’s should be an ongoing measurement, especially if is KPI that is measuring an activity or goal that impacts income. These examples should read, “fresh-produce sales are up 19% daily compared to last week…” A constant watch is an effective and objective method to stop problems as they start. It is important to stop “revenue bleed” and shrinkage. Revenue bleed is lost money that could have been saved if only something happened sooner. For  a C-Store company, that would be monitoring store activity that effects the customer’s buying decisions. It can also be due to not shopping your vendors for best products or hiring employees who think they deserve a $20 a week raise by taking money out of your register.   By tracking KPI’s you control the bleed.  People may steal and stores may not perform well, but when monitoring not for long.

Due to time and resource constraints, companies will typically wait for measurement results based on monthly financials as opposed to controlling them daily, and this is the difference between monitoring and reporting. With a constant check on performance, you have a much better chance of improving C-Store Performance. You can find and stop problems as they start, you can break bad habits that are about to begin, you can see opportunities when they are there for the taking and you can certainly eliminate those bad surprises at the end of the month, making life a little more easy for yourself.

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5 Things that slip through the cracks in a C-Store that Quik Data Scorecards catch.

There are a lot of details to take care of in a C-Store.  It is easy to let small details slip through the cracks.  Here are 5 that companies are catching by using the Quik Data Scorecard

1) Tank Meters are not calibrated correctly

Tank meters are prone to a lot of action and hardware with action can easily lose its calibration.  Scorecards will relay what the meters are reading which will immediately flag any that are out of calibration.  Though this is a normal check in most companies, it is often overlooked.  If that goes on too long, you can easily find yourself with an outage you weren’t aware was coming.

2) No change policies are not being followed

We have all been there. Someone asks for help and you know you are in the position to help them, so you do. This can quite often be the case when No Change policies are in place. Rather then force themselves into a debate about store policy, they just provide the change to make the customer happy. However, you have good reasons for having it as a policy. You need to make sure each drawer is capably of providing proper change throughout the day.  By keeping track of “No Sale” transactions, you can immediately be flagged when your cashiers are giving change.

3)  Where your Marketing programs are working and not working

By tracking customer counts you can determine if your Marketing efforts are having impact. Any Customer Count report will give you this. But if you can parallel your perspective of where they are working and not working by paralleling your study to customer count and sales, it may help you streamline your marketing activity better. As a simple example, if mailers were sent providing incentives to buy beer, and they are only working in 50% of your stores, then your next mailing campaign expense could decrease by 50% the next time you run this type of campaign. Scorecards provide a simple way of looking at both statistics so you can look at campaign performance on a daily basis, while the campaign is running.

4)  What your Store Mangers need to focus on today

The scorecard provides a list of alerts telling Store Managers what they need to focus on each day in order to pull their grade up. What may be on that list on the 25th of the month may be completely different than what was on the list on the 4th of the month. With the many things that can impact performance in a C-Store Company, it is very important to keep up. If waiting on weekly reports or time for the Supervisor to run analysis the Store Manager will lose momentum and be likely to fail in reaching their monthly goals. The list can get too large, too quickly. Scorecards approaches issues with the “one bite at a time” philosophy. Dealing with issues on a daily basis can prevent larger problem situations and keep them on track towards their goals.  When doing so, today’s list may be completely different then yesterday’s list.

5) Are your employees stealing from you?

One of the hardest things to discover before it is too late, is whether your employees are refunding imaginary sales or  stealing money from the drawer.  It is very plausible that someone mishandled change in a transaction, or if customers actually did return merchandise.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case when these transactions pop up repeately.  By keeping a constant check on Over/Short and Refund transactions, you can see the patterns as this fraudulent activity begins.  When knowing this is being monitored, it is also likely that the activity by your employees will stop.

The day to day activity in a C-Store is busy and fast paced.  It is difficult to monitor everything that happens.  Quik Data goes behind the scenes and monitors the many things that make or cost you money so that when things go awry in these areas you are made aware of it.  There are probably many more things Scorecards will tell you that you didn’t know as well.  The important thing is that viewing all of them in a single report or page makes keeping on top of the money makers or breakers simple and do-able.

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LOSING WEIGHT, INCREASING STORE PERFORMANCE…ITS THE SAME PROCESS!


Like many, as I get older, I have to work harder to keep fit. I found myself 6 months into a 10 pound weight loss goal weighing 5 pounds more than when I started. I decided something needed to change. As  went through the process of creating a new plan and setting goals for measurement I began to realize that losing weight was much like improving the performance in a C-Store company.

DECIDING TO MAKE AN ACTION PLAN  I went online and found a few articles that told me that reducing my calories by 10% below my calorie burn would allow me to hit my goal in just a few months. I then found a calculator that allow me to determine my calorie burn. Finally, I started tracking everything that I ate and recording the estimate calories burned exorcising. I made a simple spread sheet that tracked the calories in and out and gave me my net every day.  The important thing was making sure I was tracking things with accurate measurement.  Writing down things that  I wanted others to believe was not going to get me to my goal.

MEASURING DAILY   I started watching the results each day and noticed that I stopped eating certain foods that had high calories and would occasionally add an extra mile or another set of reps with the weights. I started to get inspired and found that the decisions became a little bit easier and more clear as I had to record the results. I also got on the scale and saw the goal was being hit and was sometimes even a little ahead. With out measurement, there was no way to track my progress.  When losing weight, a simple step on the scale will tell you if the plan is working. C-Stores either need tools or sophisticated manual processes to help them with their measurements, but without this critical part of the process they won’t know if they are succeeding or failing, or be aware when plans need to change.  Constant and consistent measurement is important to overall success.

THE BUSINESS APPLICATION  I work with C-Stores all the time. I talk to some of the best store managers and supervisors about their work. They tell me measuring works exactly the same way with increasing sales and reducing costs. When accurate data is easily available and management says this important (provides consequences and rewards), it motivates the right actions. I often hear things like ‘of course it makes a difference when we measure our results and pay attention to what we do. Any good manager can increase sales by keeping up with prices, offering specials, upselling and keeping the shelves well stocked and presented.’

JUST DO IT  So it just comes down to priorities. We can do anything we set our minds to do (and put some measurements in place to make clear our results)

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3 Free Ways to Motivate Employees Out of a Rut

Motivation is not an easy thing to create.  If your pockets are not endless, you are staffing at minimal levels or your business cannot sustain downtime, it is hard to find things you can do to motivate employees.  More money, time off or company events aren’t possible.  So if this is the case, how does management motivate employees when things get in a rut? 1) Show Personal or Corporate Appreciation More than likely, every employee at some point is doing something well.  Create categories and print awards for them to accumulate.  There are many free online graphics you can grab that you can use to create them. Present them at your meetings and spur that sense of pride that motivates.  In the article “7 Unusual Ways to Motivate Employees“, Eric Markowitz, suggests something as simple as sending a simple hand written thank you note. 2) Train Them on Something New Cross Training is an easy way to pull someone out of their rut. It gives them exposure to more of the companies process giving them a peak at the big picture. It can also come in handy when staff availability is low. 3) Create a Special Day   Have a crazy hat day,  or something else that everyone will find amusing to help your employees bond with one another.  It will break up the monotony of every day routine and it will even amuse your customers for they will enjoy seeing your employees having some fun.  Christina Galoozis suggests an off hours video game contest  in her article “6 Ways to Motivate Employees by Using Little to No Money” We all know that motivation comes from within, but it doesn’t hurt to kick into gear so it can be easily found.  Though expensed motivators  yield the best results, there are ways to motivate your team that cost nothing.  Creating a workplace of fun and reward of any kind will yield great results and people will take pride that they are taking part in a company that has that type of environment.

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