Study tours are an amazing way to gather inspiration, and I am certain that any time you attend a study tour, you come away with new great ideas. Some of those ides are simple to execute, but some may be out of reach or have to be built long-term planning category due to financial constraints.
During our recent study tour in London and Amsterdam, I walked away with nine executable and grand ideas from the knowledge I gathered while walking through international travel centers, c-stores and grocery stores.
If you are not fresh in Europe, you are simply not in the game. Europeans expect food that was recently prepared. NATSO members can follow Europeans’ lead with freshly made, healthy foods.
Dynamic Pricing. Several locations I visited had different pricing throughout the day for certain products. Just ask yourself this question, should you be discounting your fountain drinks at your interstate locations during the busiest time of the day? Should you charge more during peak periods? As my dear friend and NATSO’s Vice President of Government Relations David Fialkov is famous for saying, 'Why do you hate money so much?"
Fruit Infused Waters.
This is a big craze with big margins. Even better is that it is a simple idea that is simple to sell. Mix up blends of cucumber strawberry water or orange and lemon citrus water that customers will love. Just watch those sell through dates to make sure everything is fresh.
Grab-n-Go Sold in All Sorts of Ways.
While abroad, I saw grab-n-go offerings made incredibly easy and efficient, which makes it easier to sell as much possible. Eliminate the barriers that you create to take your customers’ money. When it all comes down to it, customers are there to hand you money, so give them a reason and the means to do it!
Have I mentioned that yet? Oh, yes. I did. But it is so important I want to bring it up again.
Speed, Speed, Speed.
Everything is about speed in these hyper busy cities and markets. Even in the city of Amsterdam where people are more relaxed, speed was critical. From self-service kiosks, cashier-less stores and self-service scanning stores to tap-and-go contactless stores, it was all about speed. No one is willing to wait in line anymore.
Do not be afraid to stand out within a hyper competitive market. If you do, you will always make the primary reason customers stop at your operations about the cost of fuel, and there is always someone who can be cheaper. Create reasons to stop. One of my favorite locations in London was Fags and Booze. Not only is the name catchy for selling cigarettes and alcohol, but they have a fantastic fresh section and a super cool and simple coffee concept.
Know Your Customers.
I know I’ve said this before, but I always want you to think about the customers. Our customers are crunched for time. So, why do we not have coffee drive throughs in our truck parking lots? In Amsterdam they have drive-through coffee shops for their customers on bicycles! In Amsterdam they have a ton of bicycles. They know their customers. Those doing business with us may not be on bikes, but they are in a hurry and value speedy service. How can you meet that demand?
Bring the Food to the Customer. In a world where time is becoming more and more fleeting, you must figure out ways to get food and services to your customers because others are looking at our space today and figuring out that exact solution. We already are blessed with the customers, but we need to figure out how to maximize their wallets otherwise someone else will. Remember, drivers are already utilizing GrubHub and Uber eats in your parking lots today. How can you replicate that service to give your customers what they need when they need it?
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