We are living in a convenience economy, one in which consumers demand that their shopping experiences are quick, simple, and hassle-free. This should be a natural fit for convenience stores, right? Yes, of course – as long as you and your staff deliver what customers want, when they want it. One of the areas where this can be a challenge for convenience stores is with food service.
Research studies suggest that food service sales make up about 23% of sales in a convenience store, and that number is expected to continue to grow. To be successful with food service in a convenience economy, stores need to take a lesson from their quick-service restaurant competition. In that market, consumer expectations are met based on what’s called the “Great Eight of Quick Service.” Take a look:
- Speed. This is the number one customer demand in a convenience economy. They chose your store to grab some food because they thought they could get in and out quickly. Disappoint them once, and they won’t likely give you another try.
- Accuracy. This applies the most to convenience stores with in-store food preparation, such as tacos, sandwiches, chicken, pizza, or salads. No matter what role you play in preparing an order, get it right the first time and every time.
- Quality. The convenience economy doesn’t mean consumers are willing to sacrifice quality for speed. In fact, demand for healthy food options in the convenience store food service market has never been higher.
- Value. Today’s consumers are willing to spend a little more to get quality items quickly. Loyalty programs that reward frequent customers can increase perceived value and allow you to offer products at profitable prices.
- Consistency. If a customer gets a made-to-order salad at your store today, they expect the same quality and ingredients the next time they come in. This applies to grab-and-go items, too. Consistency generates loyalty.
- Service. Service is your invisible product. Train your staff on specific sales and service strategies specific to food service.
- Atmosphere. A clean, friendly, and inviting store makes customers feel more confident that your food service offerings are fresh, wholesome, and prepared with food safety in mind.
- Personalization. Pay attention to food trends and make sure your food service offerings include options for the many different diets and healthy eating philosophies that are driving consumer decisions.
Food Service for Convenience Stores
Food service in your convenience store requires specific training to ensure employees are following food safety guidelines as well delivering exceptional service related to food service. Remember, training is an ongoing process. Be sure to follow up your online training with on-the-job lessons and mentoring.