In the convenience store world, two things ring true: retailers are always looking for ways to get customers in the door, and it’s an ever-evolving industry. Keeping up with customer preferences and creating the best in-store experience for community members is key to staying competitive. Whether it’s upgrading exterior lighting to better align with customer expectations of a safe environment or enhancing food offerings with fresh grab-and-go items, people will notice those features and remember them the next time they need to make a stop.
So, whether retailers are considering a small upgrade or a major overhaul to their c-store, there’s a few things to keep in mind when choosing to invest in the store.
Understand and identify the community’s needs
Especially for store owners and operators, the needs of the community drive what offerings to include in their store. As a convenience store brand that deeply believes in investing in each location to meet the needs of its local community, Cenex®, the energy brand of CHS Inc., offers LIFT—a lighting, image and facilities transformation program designed to revamp Cenex stores through a series of exterior and in-store updates. Through LIFT, current Cenex retailers have the freedom and flexibility to renovate their stores how they see fit, all with the resources and support of CHS.
Each community is different, and there are so many ways store owners and operators can make updates to offer just what their neighborhood craves. Through the LIFT initiative, Cenex store owners can more easily reflect their community’s needs in-store.
Consider these examples:
- In Merrill, Wis., the River Country Co-Op Cenex location sits along the Wisconsin River and near several lakes, so it added a bait shop as one of its in-store upgrades, so that both minnows and a snack were easy to grab on the way to a fishing trip.
- Offering local food vendors was important to the folks at the Synergy Cooperative Cenex location in Cumberland, Wis., and with the help of LIFT, they incorporated four local meat and cheese vendors in addition to locally made maple syrup and honey products.
- The Northern Star Co-Op management team in Grand Rapids, Minn. knew that many residents in the community rely on financial assistance, so they chose to implement the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program, an electronic system that allows a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) member to pay for food using SNAP benefits.
While there are more than 1,400 locally owned and operated stores within the Cenex network, these examples show how LIFT helps each location be tailor-made for its community.
“We believe that our stores being locally owned and operated is truly what makes Cenex unique,” said Akhtar Hussain, Director of Refined Fuels Marketing at CHS. “The LIFT initiative was born to help our Cenex family be able to remain competitive in their area and make their location one worth driving an extra five minutes for.”
Identify the potential increase in profit
Investing in a location will do more than improve the shopping experience for the community. Making impactful upgrades has the potential to boost the bottom line, too. For the Enerbase Cooperative Cenex location in Minot, N.D., instead of mere upgrades around the store, owners committed to a complete overhaul to increase sales. The team had done minor updates in the past, such as adding new pumps and P.O.S. systems, but the low-interest financing available through the LIFT initiative made them feel secure with the potential ROI of committing to a 2,500-foot addition. The investment in their location was worth it, and allowed for a kitchen expansion, new coolers and freezers, an updated entryway, refreshed restrooms, upgraded countertops and cabinetry, new LED lighting throughout the store and more.
“Enerbase Cooperative is just one example of so many stores in the Cenex network that are seeing really great ROI from their recent renovations,” said Hussain. “In fact, since the start of the LIFT initiative, Cenex retailers have seen a substantial increase in food, in-store and gas sales. That proves that the upgrades are satisfying the needs of the communities these locations serve.”
C-store retailers may be wondering if now is the right time to take the gamble of renovating their store. Whether it’s an all-in store revamp or on the fence about some minor upgrades, Cenex is ready, and through its LIFT initiative, the brand is offering low-interest loan financing for qualifying in-store improvements including updated bathrooms, LED lighting, reach-in or walk-in coolers, check-out counters and so much more.
Select the right partner
Taking on a renovation at any scale can be nerve-wracking. Business owners need to make the right choice for not only their store, but also for their community. Choosing the right partner to enhance a convenience store portfolio is a critical component to achieving overall success. The Cenex brand is ready to be that partner and can help decide when it’s the right time to renovate, and even the extent of upgrades to pursue.
“We know you take pride in your business, and that your business plays a vital role in your community,” said Hussain. “Because we’re rooted in local communities, we’re dedicated to fostering community in all towns we serve. We want to be each store owner’s true support system throughout each store transformation.”
As a trusted partner, Cenex empowers retailers to make the business decisions that are right for them and their communities by offering vendor partner flexibility through programs like LIFT. For more information or to join the Cenex family, click here.
This post is sponsored by Cenex®