Independently Speaking: Rounding It Out
Independent Minnesota retailer balances consistency with innovation
“People say we have some of the best apple fritters around,” Lund says. “Some know us as a doughnut shop more than a gas station.”
Beaudry Express calls on other local businesses for foodservice as well. Lund buys handmade, steamer-cooked hot dogs direct from Elk River Meats, and he uses locally owned Heggy’s Pizza, which the store sells by the slice.
Out with the Old …
In addition to overseeing daily operations, Lund is investing time and money in the future. He looks to his competitors for cues on where to put his focus.
“A lot of independents don’t spend enough time looking at their competitors,” he says. “When Walgreens started selling big bags of fun-sized candy, we started doing big bags of fun-sized candy. That stuff sells like crazy.”
Lund also tries to look at his store from the perspective of his customers to determine where to make changes.
“Our clientele is upper-class, and the pumps are the first things people see,” Lund says. “We want people to know our store is clean and updated.”
The site is branded Shell, with nine dispensers, all brand new this spring. The $150,000 it cost Lund was well worth the benefits it brought to his customers.
“We were having technology issues with the old machines,” Lund says, “which required people to walk inside and get things sorted out. With some of the snowiest and coldest winters on record, that’s a major inconvenience for people. Nobody wants to do that when it’s 15 below.”
He installed two new automatic car washes five years ago, spending $250,000 on the pair, and he plans to update them again in 2017.
Lund was also thinking of the future when he began remodeling the store last winter.
“Back in the ’90s, everyone wanted everything to look like a race car,” he says. “We’re pulling ourselves away from that look to something more contemporary.”
Neutral colors with natural stone and siding: That’s the look Lund is striving for as he takes on remodeling projects that will continue through this spring. With the help of Prime Advertising & Design, Maple Grove, Minn., he has already updated the Beaudry Express logo to make it more cohesive with the store’s new look. He makes sure his in-store marketing looks professional as well. His Beaudry Bargain Sheets, which push weekly specials, look like they come from a chain, not an indie. (See sidebar below.)
The balance of consistent daily work and creative innovation makes this business a perfect fit for Lund. He once returned to finance while he still owned the store, but he quickly realized that “once you get to be your own boss, it’s hard to answer to somebody else.”
“Gas prices and managing employees can be stressful, but sales and marketing is pretty exciting,” Lund says. “Convenience is a fun business to be in.”
Owner and manager Josh Lund takes advantage of local vendors and national distributors to supply his customers with a balanced foodservice offering.
It’s a Bargain
Josh Lund puts a great deal of time and effort into making his in-store marketing look as professional as possible. His strict policy against handwritten or even Microsoft Word-generated signs allows nothing less. Each week he carefully designs Beaudry Bargain Sheets to display at the fueling stations, in the bathrooms and on the cooler doors, encouraging customers to notice timely specials by saying, “Hey! This good-lookin’ signage is something to take seriously.”