The 7 Ideas on Greg Parker's 'Dashboard for Success'

Leader reveals business themes his convenience store chain embraces, "worships"

Greg Parker (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

Greg Parker

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Greg Parker, president and CEO of the Parker's chain of convenience stores in Georgia, was the keynote speaker at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Awards Luncheon on May 21, 2014.

Parker's, based in Savannah, Ga., currently has five convenience stores there in Beaufort County, and will open its sixth store in June in the Beaufort/Port Royal area. This will be the company's 35th c-store.

In his talk, Parker highlighted seven business themes embraced by his company, which he credits in part with its success. He recommended that business owners:

1. Create a dashboard for success. Executives at The Parker Cos. "worship data," he said. "We believe that success doesn't just happen. When you make success measureable, you make it achievable."

2. Pay attention to the female customer. "As with most direct consumer businesses, the female customer is the primary decision-maker in the family, especially when it comes to her discretionary dollars and time," he said. "I believe if you create retail environments that please women, you get everyone else in the process."

3. Cultivate loyalty. "I truly believe one of the keys to our success at Parker's is our emphasis on loyalty," he said, reinforced by the company's signature PumpPalCard program, a debit card that passes savings back to the consumer of up to 10 cents a gallon by eliminating credit-card processing fees.

4. Create effective brand image. "It's important to understand your company's identity," said Parker. "What makes you unique? And, to have one master 'look.' Ultimately, your brand is your promise to your customer."

5. Embrace technology. The company uses technology "to deliver the ultimate customer experience," said Parker, and it is a critical tool to maximize sales and create a sense of community around the company's brands.

"You can even use technology today to make sure that you're on track as a leader or business executive," he told the attendees, recommending online tools such as Lift, People Matter, Gallup's Strengths Finder and the latest in app technology.

6. Give back. "I believe customers have a choice, and they want to support companies that give back," he said. The company donates thousands of dollars to local public and private schools, and it recently donated $1 million to support the regional Memorial Hospital Emergency & Trauma Unit.

7. Develop your team. Parker outlined how he has built a core leadership staff that has been with him for decades, but due to recent rapid growth has added a number of new directors onto his senior management team.

Parker encouraged the Hilton Head-Bluffton area and Savannah to think of themselves as one region. "I believe we will all be stronger if we work together and think about cooperation versus competition," he said. "I encourage you to think big."

He also highlighted that he hears from local political leaders that sometimes "the Lowcountry lacks 'political clout' up in Columbia with the Legislature."

"That lack of clout has affected a lack of funding for adequate roads between here and Savannah, a critical highway to further unite our metro area," he said as an example. He posed the possible need for a PAC or other strategies to bring more economic development dollars to the local counties.

Parker also encouraged local officials and the local business community to work toward municipal and county governments that are more "customer friendly, more efficient and more responsive to both the businesses located here today, and those who are considering expanding into the Lowcountry. Together we can do so much more."

Parker's currently operates 34 convenience stores dedicated to superior customer experience in nine counties throughout Southeast Georgia and South Carolina, and Parker's Gourmet Urban Market in Savannah's Historic District. Parker's is dedicated to exceeding customer expectations and being recognized throughout the region as the preeminent convenience store operation.