Convenience Stores

A sign for the Las Vegas Convention Center and text reading "2022 NACS Show: How to Make the Most of This Must-See Event"

2022 NACS Show: How to Make the Most of This Must-See Event

2022 NACS Show: How to Make the Most of This Must-See Event 1016 528 Sprockets

This year’s NACS Show takes place from October 1 to 4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, featuring more than 1,200 exhibitors, thousands of trending products, and dozens of educational sessions. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on at this c-store trade show, so we decided to create a list of tips for those of you who plan to attend. Discover discounts, peruse products, and select sessions that will help you grow your business.

Of course, our passion for helping business owners and operators goes beyond this guide. We’ve created a hiring solution that’s helping c-stores hire and retain the ideal employees for their locations with pinpoint accuracy. It takes all the stress and guesswork out of the hiring process so you can focus on running your business — and enjoying the NACS Show — without worrying about staffing challenges.

5 Tips for Attending the NACS Show

1. Register Early

First and foremost, we urge you to register at your earliest convenience. The pricing for the NACS Show increases over time until it reaches $845 for the full conference and $745 for a single day. However, you can save a great deal of money if you sign up before September 24. (Members of NACS also enjoy additional savings.) That means you can save more for purchasing the next best product or solution for your c-store!

2. Get a Discount on Your Hotel

Booking your hotel reservation through the NACS Show official housing agency is another fantastic way to save money. They have a collection of 31 hotels to choose from with special rates for trade show attendees. It’s easy to see what each one has to offer, from amenities and room availability to distance from the Las Vegas Convention Center. Best of all, they all offer free shuttles to the venue so you don’t have to worry about traffic, directions, or parking.

3. Consider Pre-Conference Workshops

There will be plenty of speakers and educational sessions during the expo from October 2 to 4, but don’t overlook the opportunity to check out the pre-conference workshops. The NACS Show is holding two of them on October 1: NACS Advanced Category Management Certification and the NACS Food Safety Conference. Both buyers and exhibitors are welcome to attend, and the cost can be easily added to your registration total.

4. View the Expo Map Beforehand

The NACS conference boasts 425,000 square feet of expo space with more than 1,200 exhibitors. It can quickly get overwhelming when you don’t know your way around. You might also risk missing booths with solutions that could dramatically boost your business. That’s why we recommend getting a feel for the expo space by viewing the map online before you arrive.

5. Learn How to Hire and Retain the Best Employees

By the way, we’ll be attending the NACS Show and would love to show you how our solution makes your hiring process smarter, faster, and more equitable. Keep an eye out for the Sprockets booth on the exhibitor floor and come say hello. A five-minute conversation and a free demo could end up making a world of difference for your business. You don’t have to just take our word for it, though. Check out what our happy customers have to say!

C-Store top match

How to Make a Convenience Store Profitable

How to Make a Convenience Store Profitable 1016 528 Sprockets

Convenience store revenue totaled $663.5 billion and grew almost 25% in the last year, according to the 2022 Convenience Store News Industry Report. It seems like the industry is finally picking back up again and returning to pre-pandemic levels. Continue reading this blog to learn how to make your convenience store profitable and successful. We’ll even explain how one hiring software can help you stabilize staffing levels so you can allocate resources elsewhere. 

How to Make Your Convenience Store More Profitable

The average convenience store gross profit margin sits around $450,000. Keep in mind that this is just one location. Eventually, you’ll want to expand to multiple locations to maximize profits. Here are four ideas to help your c-store thrive in 2022. 

1. Increase Your Food Selection

One in four consumers stop at a c-store for lunch and 30% will purchase fast food items over refrigerated products. In fact, foodservice makes up 23% of c-store sales. No wonder convenience stores are now competing with quick-service restaurants. If you aren’t already doing so, think about adding more fresh food meal options. You could even have an associate greet customers at the front doors with samples!  

2. Up Your Prices on Popular In-Store Items 

This might feel strange — especially since gas prices are skyrocketing — but c-stores only make two cents to every gallon of gas sold! Consider increasing the price on in-store items, (especially food options). Don’t feel like you have to match price points with your local grocery store. Remember, customers are paying for the convenience of your goods, not just the products themselves. 

3. Understand Product Placement

You’ve probably heard the common saying “eye level is buy level”, but are you applying it to your c-store? Products that are placed at eye level are more likely to be selected and purchased by your customers. Why? Eye-level products have more visibility than those at your feet or knees. One study found that it only takes 8 seconds for a person to make a buying decision and if you think about it, it makes sense. A majority of c-store customers are traveling or on the go. They likely don’t have time to think too long about what snack or beverage they want. Consider placing your best-selling items at eye level to better catch your customers’ attention.

4. Drive Sales With the Best C-Store Employees

If you want to profit off of your convenience store, then you need to reduce costs where you can. One bad hire can cost $5,000, according to Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research. Avoid these expenses and end the cycle of costly employee turnover by hiring the right c-store associate every time with Sprockets’ solution. It reveals which applicants will succeed and stay long-term based on shared personality traits with a location’s current top performers. Ultimately, the platform empowers owners and operators to build reliable teams, reduce labor costs, and improve profit margins. It’s more accurate than other hiring solutions and even proven to increase employee retention by 43%, on average.

 

“If you’re on the fence, just the price should push you over because if it saves you one bad hire per year, you’re up money. That’s a no-brainer.”

– Curtis Wilhelmi, McDonald’s Franchise Operator

Convenience store

The Ultimate Guide to Convenience Store News: Publications and Trends

The Ultimate Guide to Convenience Store News: Publications and Trends 1016 528 Sprockets

You’re on a road trip and notice your gas tank is almost empty. There are two gas stations within the next ten minutes. Would you go to the closer one or drive a few more miles to stop at your favorite c-store? According to the 2022 NACS Consumer Fuels Survey, 74% of drivers would drive the extra miles to their preferred brand, regardless of price. 

If you want your business to be the winner, then it’s important to follow convenience store news and take note of what other c-store brands are doing. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know and will even explain how one hiring solution can increase your associate retention by 43%, on average.

Where to Get Your C-Store News 

While there are many c-store news outlets, we recommend these two reliable publications: 

Convenience Store News

For more than 40 years and counting, the number one industry publication continues to provide its audience with a plethora of resources like magazines, newsletters, meetings, conferences, and more. Their mission is to “deliver the insight, analysis, market research and business intelligence that helps c-store retailers stay ahead of what’s next — critical information to grow sales and profits.” Every year, they announce their Convenience Store News Best New Products Awards to recognize high-quality food items that exceed customer expectations.

NACS Magazine

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) offers “industry knowledge, connections, and issues leadership to ensure the competitive viability of its members’ businesses.” Their next trade show will take place on October 1 through 4 in Las Vegas — our Sprockstars will see you there! 

Convenience Store Industry Trends

Which of these 2022 convenience store trends is your business following?

1. Increase in Restaurant Quality Food

The c-store industry continues to see a decline in fuel profits as they currently sit 7.2% below pre-pandemic levels. With fewer people on the road and rising gas prices, getting customers to walk in your door can be quite a challenge. Now, c-stores are adding more food options to compete with quick-service restaurants. Seven out of ten customers who stop to pump gas also make their way inside and one in four consumers visit c-stores for lunch. Additionally, 30% will purchase fast food compared to other c-store food items like made-to-order meals and refrigerated items. 

Top brands like Wawa and 7-Eleven are attempting to be a one-stop shop for consumers. No wonder they both recently launched drive-thrus! Wawa even added a dinner menu to their list of food options. “It is critical to provide new ways to access Wawa, increase convenience and provide new options for service,” Wawa Director of Construction Terri Micklin said.

2. Digital Loyalty Programs

If you want to retain customers, then you need to incentivize them to continue to shop at your location. Some c-stores have found success with digital loyalty programs, and others are quickly catching on. Huck’s Convenience Stores, for example, implemented Huck’s Bucks Bigg Rewards and received 20,000 signups when the program first launched in 2020. Loyalty customers receive 10 cents off every gallon of gas and points with almost every purchase to earn discounts, free food, and other program prizes. The chain found that loyalty customers typically spend $5 more than non-loyalty ones. 

Tip: Partner with third-party delivery services like DoorDash or UberEats, so your customers don’t even have to leave their houses! 

3. Frictionless Technology

Current trends in convenience store technology include artificial intelligence and frictionless checkout. Texas and New Mexico c-store chain Delek US, for example, has cut checkout lines by 67% using a combination of these two solutions. Customers are able to scan and pay for their items in just 15 seconds! 

Emerging technology like Sprockets uses artificial intelligence to supercharge the hiring process. The platform identifies shared personality traits between a location’s current best employees and its applicants. Then, the solution reveals which potential hires will succeed and stay long-term before the interview and without a resume. On average, Sprockets boosts employee retention by 43%, ultimately saving c-store owners and operators thousands of dollars.

People shaking hands and text reading "Convenience Store Associations With the Best Resources for Business Owners"

Convenience Store Associations With the Best Resources for Business Owners

Convenience Store Associations With the Best Resources for Business Owners 1016 528 Sprockets

Do you ever wish you could talk to someone who had the same business challenges as you to learn how they overcame them? You can, and it’s just one of the many benefits of joining a convenience store association. They often provide c-store owners with valuable resources such as training classes for your team, insights to inform your strategy, discounts on retail solutions, and even advocacy for issues on the state or international levels. Let’s dig into which convenience store groups provide the fuel you need to grow your business.

Of course, your business is only as good as the employees you have on staff, and adding one simple tool to your hiring process helps improve retention and productivity. It instantly reveals the ideal applicants for your convenience store, enabling you to make the best hiring decisions every time.

Grow Your Business With the Help of These Convenience Store Associations

NACS

The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, also known simply as NACS, has been helping c-store owners for over 60 years. It’s the premier global trade association, founded in 1961 under the name “The National Association of Convenience Stores.” Today, NACS advises more than 1,300 retailer and 1,600 supplier members across 50 countries.

Free Resources

NACS is an exceptional source of news articles full of helpful insights, like How to Hire in a Labor Shortage and Here’s an Intelligent Way to Reduce Employee Turnover. Topics include everything from human resources to sustainability. In addition, they host various webinars, a podcast titled Convenience Matters, and a “Discovery Center” to find new products for your convenience store. We also highly recommend subscribing to the NACS Magazine; all you need to do is create a free account to gain digital access.

NACS Events

You’re welcome to attend a variety of NACS events, such as leadership training programs and convenience summits. Of course, the biggest and most popular event is the annual NACS Show (October 1 to 4, 2022). It attracts over 20,000 attendees for educational sessions, workshops, speakers, and more than 1,200 exhibitors. Check out the “Cool New Products Preview Room” and consider attending a pre-conference workshop (NACS Advanced Category Management Certification and NACS Food Safety Conference). 

Tip: Keep an eye out for the Sprockets booth (6386) on the exhibitor floor to learn how our hiring solution helps c-stores drastically improve employee retention!

NACS Membership

NACS membership pricing starts at $250 per year for c-store retailers in the U.S. Your rate depends on your annual sales figures. You’ll enjoy discounted rates for events, reports, and resources as well as members-only access to expos and education. Plus, retail members receive personal representation through their national advocacy group. (There are additional membership options available for supplier companies and members of the press.)

C-Store Associations by State

If you’d like to explore some of the more local options specific to your state, feel free to browse the list of related associations below:

REVEAL THE IDEAL APPLICANTS WITH SPROCKETS’ HIRING PLATFORM

Each bad hire can cost your c-store up to $5,000 — a cost you can’t afford during a labor crisis. That’s why so many businesses turn to Sprockets’ unique hiring solution that shows you precisely who to hire, removing the guesswork and improving employee retention by an average of 43%. You’ll be able to spend less time on the hiring process and more time on daily operations, which is crucial to running a successful convenience store.

Schedule a free, 15-minute demo to start hiring employees who will drive success for your c-store!

C-Store top match
A woman holding a sign and text reading "How to Open a Convenience Store: The Complete Guide"

How to Open a Convenience Store: The Complete Guide

How to Open a Convenience Store: The Complete Guide 1016 528 Sprockets

Starting a new business can be stressful, time-consuming, and overwhelming. Luckily, we’re here to help put you at ease with some top tips for how to open a convenience store. Find out what you need to know to minimize risk and maximize profits in the c-store industry. We’ll even teach you how to identify the ideal applicants so you can start off on the right foot with an all-star team of employees!

Opening a Convenience Store

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Convenience Store?

It usually costs about $10,000 to $50,000 to open a convenience store. This includes the cost of buying or renting a space, stocking your c-store with its initial inventory, and installing necessary equipment and technology. The price can vary, though, depending on the size of your store and which route to ownership you take. You can build a new, independent c-store from the ground up, purchase an existing c-store, or open a new location under a franchise brand. If you’re new to the industry, we recommend opening a franchise location so you can receive guidance, business advice, and an established customer base. Buying a franchise location is also typically cheaper and easier than building and stocking a whole new store on your own.

Are Convenience Stores Profitable?

The average gross profit margin for convenience stores can be around $450,000, making it a potentially lucrative business venture. However, keep in mind that it takes some time to reach the tipping point of making that profit after all of the initial costs to set up your c-store. Be patient, be consistent, and be disciplined about how you approach your operating plan. With any luck, you could achieve a decent profit and be able to expand to additional locations.

Tip: Consider running a food service operation within your c-store to increase profits. Despite what the general public might think about rising gas prices, c-stores only make about two cents of profit for each dollar of gasoline they sell. Maximize your profit margin by increasing food sales instead of depending on gas and tobacco sales.

What Is the Biggest Challenge Facing C-Store?

Unfortunately, there are downsides to opening a convenience store. One of the toughest obstacles facing c-stores right now, besides supply chain issues and inflation, is high employee turnover. It can be extraordinarily difficult to hire and retain high-quality c-store associates. As soon as you onboard one associate, another could be on their way out.

How Do I Hire the Best C-Store Employees?

Once you begin hiring your first employees, you’ll quickly be able to differentiate the best from the rest. Then, the key is to find more workers like those current top performers. Ideally, you’ll want to do this as soon as possible before you get stuck in an endless cycle of employee turnover. It’s time-consuming, stressful, and cuts into your profit margin due to the cost of the traditional hiring process. Sprockets’ hiring platform removes this obstacle from your path to success by instantly revealing which applicants will succeed and stay long-term like your best c-store associates.

Reveal the Ideal Applicants With Sprockets’ Hiring Platform

Any convenience store owner can tell you how difficult it can be to struggle with employee turnover. That’s why so many businesses turn to Sprockets’ unique hiring solution that shows you precisely who to hire, removing the guesswork and improving employee retention by an average of 43%. You’ll be able to spend less time on the hiring process and more time on daily operations, which is crucial when opening a convenience store.

Schedule a free, 15-minute demo to start hiring employees who will drive success for your new c-store!

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