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Keeping Your Business Model Competitive

LAS VEGAS –- What are you famous for? That’s what all convenience stores must answer in order to be truly successful, Dave Carpenter, president and CEO of J.D. Carpenter Cos. Inc., said during Wednesday’s NACS Show educational session entitled “Revisiting Your Business Model.”

He cited Casey’s General Stores Inc. as a prominent example: “Casey’s is famous for pizza. If you ask any customer in the Midwest, they will say so.”

If c-store retailers do not know what they are famous for, “it’s not good,” Carpenter added. In addition, to further build a great brand and business model, he said retailers must be passionate or they won’t be successful.

“Do your employees really care about the success of the company?” he asked.

One way to employ passionate workers is to find ways to give back to them. Perhaps the most prominent example is Kwik Trip Inc. “They give 40 percent of their profits back to the employees,” noted Carpenter. “I asked the CEO how he gives back so much to his employees. He said his company would never be as successful if he hadn’t.”

Leo Vercollone, president and CEO of c-store chain VERC Enterprises Inc., believes in giving back as well. The operator of 24 c-stores with gas in Massachusetts and New Hampshire focuses on what he calls “good karma.”

“Giving back is where many people find enjoyment,” Vercollone relayed during the educational session. “Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are prime examples of those who give back.”

VERC gives back via a variety of community efforts, and the retailer focuses on having a diverse workforce. Its 250 employees come from 20 different countries, and 20 percent of its workers are developmentally delayed. VERC also incorporates the re-entry of former prisoners into its workforce.

This diverse employee base has led to great success at VERC, and the CEO outlined a two-step approach for other c-store operators to be successful. The first component is having an excellent strategy. The second step is culture. Specifically, he pointed to how employees view the parent company.

“If your employees are engaged, you make more money,” he said.

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