Convenience store operators are increasingly turning to foodservice as a vehicle for driving traffic, sales and profits, but the competition is fierce from both conventional foodservice companies and other retailers.
The upcoming NACS Show 2018 in Las Vegas will offer a full slate of educational sessions that will serve as a toolkit for operators seeking to compete in this niche, covering everything from back-of-the-house operations to consumer marketing to home delivery. The sessions will feature practical lessons from the real world that illustrate best practices and detail processes for implementation.
Perhaps one of the biggest questions facing c-store operators is whether or not to jump on the made-to-order (MTO) foodservice bandwagon—a proven strategy for success at many leading retailers.
An educational session scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7, called “Is MTO Really for Me?” will seek to highlight key factors to consider when building a made-to-order program, provide tips for setting realistic goals and strategies, and share innovative tactics for differentiation. In addition, attendees will learn how to asses and manage labor needs and expenses, which is one of the key considerations for operators seeking to offer made-to-order foods such as sandwiches, burgers and burritos.
As operators expand their prepared foods offerings, they also increase their exposure to food safety risks. The NACS Show will address this topic in a Monday, Oct. 8 educational session called “Avoiding a Chipotle Headline,” a reference to the fast-casual chain’s connections to outbreaks of foodborne illness in recent years.
The session will look at several aspects of food safety, including regulatory requirements, supplier quality assurance, sanitation procedures, temperature controls and employee training. As NACS says in its description of the session, food safety is a “non-negotiable element” of foodservice for operators.
One key trend that’s been affecting both retail and foodservice is increasing demand for delivery. An NACS Show session on Monday called “The Long and Winding Last Mile” will cover the opportunities and challenges involved in delivery. While some delivery specialists such as pizza chains have long solved the challenge of bringing prepared foods to customers’ doors, retailers and other foodservice operators continue to struggle to do so profitably.
Loyalty programs are also an important consideration for operators with foodservice programs, as companies such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have leveraged these rewards-based marketing tools to drive increased frequency and higher sales. In a NACS Show session on Monday called “The Power of a Rewards Program,” attendees will learn how to evaluate and implement a loyalty program at their business, with a focus on best practices and industry benchmarks.
Closely connected to loyalty programs are the use of social and digital media and data analysis, both of which will be covered in sessions at the NACS Show. Other topics of potential interest to foodservice-oriented c-store operators that will be covered include sessions on fresh-foods execution, managing waste, foodservice trends, shopper need states and category management.
NACS Show attendees interested in foodservice should also visit Restaurant Technologies at Booth #5645. Restaurant Technologies offers several solutions that help operators run safer, smarter kitchens, including fryer oil management, filtration monitoring and automated hood, flue and fan cleaning systems.
This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies