How to Compete with Large C-Store Chains

[:en]It’s easy to look at the top of the c-store market and wonder what you can possibly do to compete with the big guys.

They have so many more years of experience. They have brand recognition. They have things tightly nailed down.

But don’t worry. Their lead isn’t insurmountable.

Here’s what you can do to earn yourself a safe and secure place in your local market:

1. Focus on Personal Relationships

The big players don’t train their team to prioritize personal relationships. They care about their customers. But they use a cookie-cutter approach for everyone.

For example, everyone gets exactly the same greeting.

You can stand out by greeting people by their first name and then asking them what you can help them find.

Or, you can ask about a small detail from their personal life that they previously mentioned.

Larger c-stores also tend to focus on using a revolving list of part-time employees who simply don’t come in often enough to maintain personal relationships.

So, having full-time employees who really know everyone locally can be a major way to stand out.

2. Cleanliness

This may seem pretty obvious, but c-stores still tend to fall short in this area.

In one specific case, improving cleanliness led to a year-over-year increase in sales of of 25%!

The bigger c-stores may also have a lot more customers, making it more difficult to maintain a clean environment.

So, keeping your c-store clean may be more of a competitive advantage than you realize.

3. Train Your Employees in Sales

WIth this, we don’t mean that they should try to convince the customer to buy something.

Rather, they should simply help out a little more when other c-stores might not do the same.

For example, your employee could suggest an alternative to an out-of-stock product.

Or, they could walk the customer to the location of the item rather than telling them where to find it.

It’s tiny things like these that make a big difference.

4. Product Differentiation

The larger chains really make your customer’s lives convenient. But they don’t necessarily make them different or interesting.

And that’s where you can step in.

Do you have an intimate knowledge of your competitor’s product line?

If not, work on it.

Then, simply create a suggestion box and tell customers to let you know what they’d like to see in your store.

Yes, this is low-tech. But it works. And it results in you having a c-store with products in great demand!

So, it turns out that competing with large c-store chains isn’t the monumental task it first appears.

What strategies make most sense for your c-store?[:]