What Type of Prepared Food Program Is Right for Your Store?
This may seem like a basic question, but it is so vital to answer honestly before embarking on any foodservice program or expanding an existing one. You may want to launch a foodservice program with hot food, or expand a grab-and-go program to now include custom-made sandwiches and salads.
Well, why not? Others in the industry are doing it. Without question, foodservice — done right and done well — can significantly increase convenience store profits, but it is more complex than any other in-store category and must be treated as its own business within a business, requiring research, planning, discipline and commitment.
Convenience Store News' How To Do World-Class Foodservice is a new series of special reports designed to help retailers optimize their investment and success in the critically important foodservice area.
This series of how-to reports encompasses content of value to all types of c-store operations, whether their prepared food and dispensed beverage systems are advanced, intermediate or just beginner level. These articles will present content on a granular level to help retailers accelerate their growth in foodservice sales.
The CSNews How To Do World-Class Foodservice program will appear in the print editions of Convenience Store News and online. There will also be a companion series of these how-to reports for smaller operators in Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.
Our How To Crew
We've assembled a panel of industry-leading foodservice experts to serve as the go-to sources for our How To Do World-Class Foodservice series. These panelists bring multiple years of experience in both convenience store foodservice and the restaurant industry.
• Jack W. Cushman, Ph.D., is executive vice president of food services at Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, where he is responsible for developing and maintaining the chain's foodservice programs and expanding its proprietary brands, Easy Street Eatery and Mama Mia. He's been employed with Nice N Easy for 12 years. Prior to that, Cushman worked in the restaurant industry from fine dining to pizza delivery, as well as in on-site institutional foodservice. He's taught strategic planning and management principles at Ithaca College, Syracuse University and Kansas State University, and is a Serv-Safe certified instructor.
• Dean Dirks is a consulting partner with b2b Solutions, a Chicago-based consultancy that specializes in working with retailers and suppliers in the c-store and petroleum marketing industry. Dirks, who began working in his father's grocery stores at just eight years old, has held positions with Safeway, Marriott, West Star and Balmar Petroleum. In these roles, he supervised a variety of branded concepts, such as Subway, Arby's, Starbucks and Domino's Pizza, as well as proprietary foodservice programs.
• In his role as director of research for Mintel Foodservice, Eric Giandelone is charged with identifying trends and developing actionable insights for clients in the foodservice industry. His work is primarily focused on writing and developing foodservice-specific reports, as well as utilizing Mintel Foodservice's tools to develop solutions that will help clients better understand and overcome the challenges they face in the foodservice industry. Prior to Mintel, Giandelone worked for Technomic Information Services.
• Burke Hodge is a trusted coffee industry expert with more than two decades of experience. He is president of The Coffee Consultants, an industry-specific consulting firm that specializes in helping clients create and restore profits through image, program and brand revitalization.
• Michael Lawshe is owner of Paragon Solutions, a nationwide convenience store and retail design firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. He has 25 years of specialized industry experience, consulting with a multitude of customers including convenience stores, travel centers/truck stops, petroleum companies, large chain operators, independently owned retailers, quick-service restaurants, fast-casual restaurants and other specialty retailers. His company completes more than 150 projects annually throughout the United States.
• Larry Miller, president and founder of Miller Management and Consulting Services Inc., is a career veteran of the convenience store and foodservice channels. He began his career as a part-time store clerk and progressed through senior levels of management in all aspects of c-store retailing, including operations, marketing, merchandising, accounting, store development and human resources. He founded Miller Management to utilize his unique viewpoints about c-store retailing.
• Tim Powell is a director of research and consulting with Technomic Inc. His emphasis at the firm is on the convenience store foodservice channel. Since joining Technomic in 2003, Powell has conducted a variety of proprietary and multi-client engagements. His responsibilities include recommending and developing business strategies for clients, conducting market research and consulting programs, data analysis, moderating consumer focus groups, industry presentations and project management.
• Bonnie Riggs is the restaurant industry analyst for The NPD Group's foodservice division. She has more than 25 years of experience in restaurant industry market research, which enables her to provide in-depth insights into the state of the industry and consumer trends, as well as forecast what's in store. Riggs is the author of numerous foodservice reports, and a frequent presenter at industry events.
• Jerry Weiner has more than 40 years of experience in marketing and operations in the foodservice industry for both convenience stores and restaurants. During that time, he's helped develop prototype store formats for four different companies, particularly in the research and development of a proprietary foodservice program for each format. He's worked for several national chains, including MAPCO, Crown Central Petroleum, National Convenience Stores, 7-Eleven and Marriott, and currently serves as the vice president of foodservice for Rutter's Farm Stores.
Definitions of Foodservice
Convenience store foodservice includes all dispensed beverages (hot, cold and frozen), as well as food assembled and prepared on site or delivered via commissaries, be it branded or unbranded.
Foodservice 101 — Operators with no foodservice or limited foodservice offerings, which may include hot beverage and fountain programs and self-serve food offerings such as breakfast sandwiches, roller grill and/or nacho programs and grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and sides.
Foodservice 201 — Operators who have expanded their programs beyond self-serve to include strong and possibly branded hot dispensed and fountain programs and more robust food offerings, such as custom-made sandwiches, salads and hot foods.
Foodservice 301 — Operators who have developed and deliver consistent restaurant-quality food and service, have higher levels of branding, and who may be exploring larger and new formats. Many of these operators are also focused on developing programs and credibility around the elusive dinner daypart.
CSNews' How To Do World-Class Foodservice report is researched and written by Maureen Azzato, a freelance content developer and editor with more than 20 years of business publishing experience, with a primary focus on foodservice and retailing. Previously she was the founding publisher and editorial director of On-the-Go Foodservice, a publication for cross-channel retail foodservice executives, and publisher and editorial director of Convenience Store News where she worked for 17 years.