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Determine the Best Foodservice Program for Your C-Store

Foodservice Approaches are Many – Here’s How to Pick the Best

C-store food service operation in action.
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oodservice is growing to become one of the largest and most profitable parts of convenience stores.  Creative innovations are expanding the offerings and bringing more traffic to every store.

A recent foodservice report estimated that the c-store foodservice category will climb to $12.2 billion in 2023!  This is changing the focus and direction of c-store operations across the country.

Take a drive around and you will see the new foodservice approach taking place.  Stores are opening up with fresh food options, coffee bars, restaurant partnerships, and more.

A recent foodservice report estimated that the c-store foodservice category will climb to $12.2 billion in 2023!  This is changing the focus and direction of c-store operations across the country.

Your stores can take part in this wave and climb to new levels of service and profitability.  Keep reading to gain insights on how to implement foodservice programs the right way.

Think Through Your Foodservice Approach

Many veterans of the c-store industry are having to change their thinking as customers' tastes change.  This shift in focus has caused them to think differently about their overall approach to foodservice.

Your Customer's Tastes

The toughest part of adding a foodservice program is figuring out your customers' tastes.  

You may find that your urban customers prefer exotic coffee and healthy breakfast options.  However, your rural customers may prefer strong black coffee and breakfast biscuits.

Taking the time to look at your location and the makeup of your ideal customer can help you implement foodservice programs that fit.

“C-stores are finally understanding they aren’t just gas stations that sell food; they’re restaurants that sell gas,” Jon Siron, foodservice director, Gier Oil Co.

Your C-Store Realities

The reality of your building and the options you have available will also direct your decisions.  Does your store have an option for a drive-thru available?  How congested is your parking lot for delivery drivers to come and go?

You also want to look at the overall footprint of your store when thinking of your foodservice logistics.  You may have to shift sections around and find ways to open up space for more fresh food options.

Pick Your Options to Implement Foodservice Programs

By focusing on foodservice, you can add options that drive more traffic and help improve profitability.  You start this by deciding which of the three main types of foodservice you will offer.  

Start Your Own

Running your own foodservice program has many direct benefits for your stores.  You keep all your products on brand and this helps to develop a strong sense of loyalty.

Higher profit margins also come from having your own brand and types of food.  The tradeoff is the responsibility of the product.  Starting your own means you have to invest more upfront.

The time and expense are big commitments, plus you carry all the responsibility.  This comes in the form of ingredients, marketing, and training. You will also need to add leaders who understand all aspects of foodservice.

Foodservice Partner

Adding a foodservice partner helps many c-stores bring in a quality foodservice program without the heavy responsibility.  A partner can help make the process easier by having a plug-and-play formula.

This cost-effective strategy can bring all the direction, signage, and equipment you need from the partner.  Your partner will often have training programs and best practices for you to follow.

The main issue of the partnership is the splitting of control.  You give up some of your control because you have asked the partner company to take care of so many things.

This means you want to communicate clearly and know all the details involved with a partnership upfront.

Quick Service Restaurant

The easiest way to implement foodservice programs is to rent space to a quick service restaurant (QSR).  Many third-party QSRs already have built-in followers who will come visit your store.

The benefits come with the lack of responsibility. The QSR rents the space and runs everything. You receive the rental payment and don't have to deal with the foodservice aspects at all.

The liabilities of a QSR will show up in your lack of control.  If the establishment isn't managed well, it causes your c-store operations to suffer.  This is why you don't want to enter into an agreement too fast.

Take the time to research the right QSR for your area and talk to other owners who currently partner with them.  This will help you prepare and find the right QSR for your locations.

Plan How to Get Strong Foodservice Metrics

Much of the success of your foodservice program comes in the preparation stage. The long-term success of your programs is driven by your ability to understand the foodservice metrics.  

Collecting

Foodservice metrics are so important that you should decide how you will collect them before you start.  Find a system that keeps the data you need without your team having to add steps to their job.

This gets you the information while keeping your service quick for your customers.

Reviewing

The key to your foodservice metrics is in your review and understanding of them.  Take the time to see trends like the time of day things sell better and common pairs that are bought together.

Limited Offers

Your metrics can also help you try new products to see how your customers respond.  Special limited-time offers can help you implement foodservice program changes.

This can help you innovate and add fresh items to your offerings while tracking which ones you want to keep.

Takeaways

Thinking through the early decisions can help you decide your c-store operation's foodservice approach.  You don't want to miss out on this growing side of the industry.

As customers' tastes and expectations change, you want to make sure to implement foodservice programs to meet them.

It's All Goods partners with c-stores across the country and helps them carry the best products with creative flair. Contact us and let us partner with you on your best foodservice approach.

December 2, 2022

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