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The Parker Cos. Leverages Technology to Succeed

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- During a meeting of the area Small Business Chamber at the Coastal Georgia Center, The Parker Cos. President and CEO Greg Parker told members technology is a key to the convenience company's success, reported.

Parker, who owns several regional companies including Laundromats, self-storage facilities and the Parker's Convenience Stores and Parker's Market convenience stores, said his company is using technology to position itself above the competition -- a key part of which is a day-parting strategy, the report stated.

"People come in at different times of the day for different things," Parker said during the meeting. "In the morning they're buying coffee, and in the evening it's beer."

Offering specials and bundling target purchases with complementary items also helps increase sales and customer satisfaction, he said.

"I look at places like McDonald's as my main competition," he said. "They have drive-thrus and bundle offers."

In addition, Parker said small businesses can learn from big corporations is the importance of data collection and analysis. His stores track what does and doesn't sell, and adjust inventory accordingly.

"We do that for each individual store, not across the board," he said, adding other forms of feedback are invaluable. Ways he collects information include video terminals at all his stores, which ask customers about their experience after a transaction is completed.

Parker also stressed the importance of quality employees.

"I invest heavily in people," he said. "Convenience store clerks are some of the toughest jobs with the toughest labor pool."

To that end, he created Parker University, which teaches the skills needed to handle food, lottery, gas pump transactions and money orders, the report stated.

"You can teach happy people to be competent, but you can't teach competent people how to be happy," Parker said. "You can have the perfect store, with the perfect lighting and landscape, but it won't mean anything without the perfect team."

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