Parker Proud to Serve Savannah

Ga.-based chain's leader shares keys to success: loyalty, community, customer "stickiness"

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

Greg Parker

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The web address of The Parker Cos. is Known for its PumpPal Club, which allows members to save up to 10 cents per gallon, the "sav" in the URL undoubtedly stands for "savings." But it could also very easily stand for "Savannah," Ga.

In a speech at the Savannah Downtown Business Association's monthly luncheon at The Lady & Sons restaurant, Greg Parker, president and CEO, said, "I'm proud to be an entrepreneur in Savannah. I think this is a great place to do business. ... My goal is to help make Savannah the best city in the best state in America to do business."

He said, "As a fellow downtown business owner, I know we all share similar challenges and struggles as we strive to succeed in downtown Savannah. We're all competing strategically, trying to make every dollar we spend count and trying to get the best return on our investment."

Parker shared the ways in which his company accomplishes those aims. One way is by attracting female shoppers.

"We focus our attention on the working mother," said Parker. "She's the lens through which we view everything we do, because she's the most time-starved and the most demanding customer. She wants stores that are safe, clean and well lit. She's a discerning customer with high standards. I believe if you create retail environments that please women, you get everyone else in the process."

Parker said his company accomplishes that in several ways: "Streamline speed of transactions at the register, improve lighting in the store, offer clean bathrooms, make smart landscaping decisions, keep store windows clean and trash cans emptied."

Another key to the company's success is its "emphasis on loyalty, community and connecting with our customers," he said. "More than ever, it's important to forge an emotional connection with consumers. Customers have so many choices in today's retail marketplace. Developing an emotional connection creates the 'stickiness' that keeps customers coming back."

He added, "Cultivating loyalty is key to succeeding in any industry. It's a critical component of any branding strategy. When customers feel a sense of connection with your business, that translates into repeat business and increased sales."

And loyalty is reciprocal, said Parker. "Because of our loyal customers, I am committed to giving back to the communities where we do business, which I consider to be an important part of doing business. I believe customers have a choice and they want to support companies that give back. We're living in an age of empathy. The companies which give back are the companies that will thrive and grow."

He described the chain's Fueling the Community Program, which donates money to support area schools in every county where the company does business. The first Wednesday of every month, one cent of every gallon of gasoline sold at every Parker's location goes to area schools. PumpPal members can designate which school they want to support, "giving the power to the consumer."

"I'm so grateful that the Fueling the Community program has received tremendous support from our PumpPal members and from Parker's customers. They recognize that Fueling the Community makes Parker's uniquely connected to the things that matter most to them in their own lives," Parker said. "We have successfully created an emotional connection with our customers that transcends the purchase at the cash register."

He concluded, "Creating brand loyalty remains critical for retailers to succeed in today's market. It's not enough to sell products to customers. You have to encourage those customers to care enough about your brand to seek it out, recommend it to their friends and make it part of their daily routine."

Parker's currently operates 30 convenience stores in six counties throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina and sells Parker's proprietary brand gasoline. The PumpPal loyalty program has more than 65,000 members who have saved $2.7 million in gasoline since it first debuted in 2011, the company said.