Deja Vu: Encouraging Return Visits

Twice Daily chain says company culture critical factor to increase same-day repeat business

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Transformation is an inside-out process. That's what Steve Hostetter thinks. And after bringing a new Twice Daily concept store to market, the 80-store retailer said the real change has nothing to do with graphics, open-air display coolers or yogurt parfaits.

"More than anything, it's culture," said the CEO and COO of the Nashville, Tenn.-based Daily's and Twice Daily chains.

Speaking before about 300 people last week at CSP's annual Convenience Retailing University (CRU) event, Hostetter recounted the steps it took to transform their stores to a Twice Daily model, which literally encourages people to come back the same day using varied meal options and same-day discounts.

Hostetter readily admits that other c-store operators have set the bar on foodservice for the industry, and is happy to avoid major pitfalls. But like other retailers who have gone before, he says adopting a foodservice culture is probably the most difficult step.

Keeping food fresh, monitoring out-of-code items and accepting the degree of waste in general are all aspects of culture change, he said.

Another aspect surrounds customer service. He said the chain investigated many options, adopting what he called a "servant leadership" model--one spoken of highly by Dallas-based 7-Eleven's top executive, Joe DePinto. Such a model supports the kind of service Hostetter ultimately wants his employees to provide customers.

Essentially it's moving to a "hospitality" mindset, he said. "To do that, culture has to change."

Visually, the end result is a clean, brightly designed store with healthier, upscale grab-and-go foods like sandwiches, salads and yogurt. A chef schooled at Le Cordon Bleu in London oversees items prepared and delivered daily. Video from a 20-inch monitor communicates how the food is made. Similarly, Twice Daily has worked with its coffee supplier to understand "varietal" blends and how to "romanticize our coffee."

The goal is to impress the consumer on a gut level, with a visually impressive presentation and the aromas and smells of fresh-baked pastries and freshly brewed coffee.

Attracting more women into the store is another goal, both as a new customer base and as heads of households, Hostetter said. "We want to be mom approved," he said, noting how most c-store presentations fall far below female standards. "Men will follow women into places they shop, like clothing stores or perfume stores. But women will not go where men shop, like at a convenience store."

Twice Daily executives have seen same-store sales increase 30% in newly remodeled stores, with 23% of traffic being people who've never visited the revamped locations. He said numbers are growing, especially as more people discover the upgraded offer in what are essentially legacy stores.

The company even uses a food truck to help spread the word about what's inside its stores, he said.

Going forward, the chain plans even bolder moves, showing attendees a rendering of a new store with a graphically impressive "tower" at its entrance. "It's a little avant garde, but we want to affect people in a visceral way."

See the August 2012 issue of CSP magazine for more details on Twice Daily.

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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