Giving T.H.A.N.K.S.

Huck's CEO details its roadmap for success

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Todd Jenney

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Combining a service-oriented culture with strict attention to detail is bringing banner years to the Huck's convenience store chain, according to its CEO, Todd Jenney.

Speaking at CSP's annual Convenience Retailing University conference in Fort Worth, Texas, Jenney outlined his 109-store chain's philosophies and the steps that Martin & Bayley Inc., Carmi, Ill., takes to execute on its strategies.

Though credentials, intelligence, education and other traditional factors play a role in hiring, Jenney told the closing session gathering of about 300 attendees, "more than anything else, passion is what makes the difference."

That passion within the Huck's chain has lead to record-breaking revenues despite a three-year recession. Jenney reported double-digit increases in its performance metrics, creating sizable rewards for employee owners.

Part of its success lies in its infrastructure, having developed a supply-chain model that includes its own warehousing system, store deliveries twice a week and its own fuel transportation business.

Innovations also occur at the store level with themed displays like its "Sweet Street" candy aisle and focused promotions on specific candy bars. For instance, its internal contest with Reese Cups brought in two year's worth of sales in just one month. Its current focus on Kit Kat bars is on pace with the Reese effort.

The company is also interested in innovation, building a drive-through program that now exists at 35 locations.

Jenney discussed a mission-defining acronym they use called "T.H.A.N.K.S.:"

T: Total customer focus. A strategy of offers, feedback options, coupons and employee training that encourages customer engagement.

H: Happy, friendly owners. As a 100%-employee owned company, Martin & Bayley fosters a spirit of ownership among staff through financial incentives and community involvement programs.

A: Always fresh, quality food and drinks. Continually developing its food and drink offers, Huck's is currently expanding its popcorn options as well as with its chicken-tenders.

N: No worries, quality fuels at competitive prices. Huck's handles 70% of its fuel distribution, with intentions on getting more into diesel.

K: "Karing" for Kids. Contributing to a wide range of children's charities, Huck's has raised $300,000 over the years.

S: Squeaky, clean bathrooms. Of course, paying attention to what for many customers is a turn-off at c-stores is a high priority for Huck's. In new builds, they've been developing touch-free restrooms that can accommodate more than one person at a time.

Looking ahead, Huck's intends to grow through small acquisitions and new-builds, having developed a streamlined format for expansion and construction. The chain currently operates in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.

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