ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The coronavirus pandemic has hit convenience stores on all levels. When it comes to foodservice, retailers have been forced to pivot and reformat their programs. But how is this done effectively?
“Experiment with new foodservice concepts continuously,” said Alex Williams, COO of Jiffy Trip, Enid, Okla., during NACS’ 2020 Crack the Code Experience. “Use outside-the-box thinking to become a disruptor to other businesses and industries.”
During the past year, Jiffy Trip—which operates 25 convenience stores in Oklahoma—has revamped its foodservice program and has seen positive results. Here’s what the company has done—and what retailers can do too ...
Jiffy Trip launched its proprietary foodservice program three years ago and hasn’t looked back. To start, Williams and his staff took note of how leading restaurant and c-store operators ran their own private-label programs and incorporated those tactics into its launch. Jiffy Trip’s private-label line includes an extra-large pizza program, bakery, made-to-order items such as fried catfish and burgers and roller grill.
The latter, although a staple in the c-store industry, was a first for Jiffy Trip, Williams said.
“We brought in [roller grill] as a value self-serve offering, but it wasn’t traditional for us,” he said.
This year, Jiffy Trip has had to cut certain items that were underperforming.
“We overhauled our whole menu and realized that if you don’t do SKU rationalization and take out low-performing items, you’re missing out,” he said. “You have to let your customers tell you what they want.”
Jiffy Trip has had great success with its frozen-beverage station, Williams said. While this equipment can get pricey, suppliers offer retailers flexibility to either pay up front or pay over time, he said.
“[Frozen station] drives a tremendous amount of traffic from families and kids in the afternoon or after school,” he said. “If you don’t have something in frozen, you’re missing an opportunity to drive a lot of traffic.”
Revamped in-store dining
In a move to compete with surrounding fast-food restaurants, Jiffy Trip is enhancing its in-store dining for foodservice patrons. This includes a mix of tables and booths, as well as high-chairs for children and Jiffy Trip-branded napkins.
“We added color to tie our chairs to our brand,” he said. “We wanted to build this area for kids and have high-chairs in the back. We found that people enjoy booths more than they enjoy tables.”
Jiffy Trip recently added drive-thru at a fourth location and has seen positive results—especially during the pandemic, Williams said. While drive-thru sales peaked in May and have since plateaued, they are still higher than they were in February, he said.
“Drive-thru has been a tremendous driver of traffic for fountain, tobacco and food sales,” he said. “We’re continuing putting these in our stores.”