As we wrap up our last day at the NACS show, I’m humbled, though not surprised, by the massive amount of foodservice focused minds gathered under one roof. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of cstore foodservice becoming something consumers would crave was a laughable suggestion. And yet, here we are, and foodservice successes from places like Rutter’s and Wawa proves cstore food is not to be ignored!
Consumer opinions of convenience store food is higher than ever, with millennials leading that improved perception. In fact, according to CSP, almost 70% of millennials reporting they believe c-stores are just as capable as restaurants in providing top-notch food and drink. Beyond that, the technology cstores are using to curate delicious food programs has improved immensely, helping to once again, improve perception. So today, in honor of cstore foodservice we recap some of the new lessons we learned at this year’s NACS show and include a recap of some of our other favorite cstore foodservice-focused blogs!
One of my favorite educational sessions at the show took a look at Foodservice Culture. A cstore foodservice program lives or dies based on its ability to execute exceptional quality every time. To get to a point of consistently flawless execution, organizations must shift to a foodservice culture focused on the top-down, changing procedures and processes along the way, becoming more food-centric. But what is foodservice culture and why does it matter?
Foodservice culture is definitely different than your traditional cstore retailing/gasoline environment. It puts emphasis on hospitality, treating customers as guests and enhancing operations as a whole to be streamlined. People who make the decision to purchase a chicken sandwich for lunch have MUCH different motivations than people who come in for a pack of cigarettes, you need to play into those motivations. Further, if motivators are different for food, you can bet deterrents are different as well. Dirty bathrooms might not bother your guest purchasing gasoline, but they are likely to be a huge deterrent to someone considering purchasing lunch from you.
Because of all this, a foodservice culture focuses on operation procedures and performance metrics that are widely different from what is required for cstore retailing/gasoline environment. It’s very much a balancing act you will have to play as you expand into foodservice, but one poised to have a huge payoff when executed properly.
Continuing into another important educational session, NACS focused on the importance of food safety. If anyone knows the impact food safety can have on a business, it’s Chipotle. They will forever be the classic case of what can go wrong when procedures aren’t set up to account for food safety. Amazingly, we are now two years past Chipotle’s initial food safety blow up, and the company still has not fully recovered from their fall from the top.
So what can you do to make sure you don’t face the same fate as Chipotle? It starts with proper employee training. You can have every bell and whistle to ensure food safety with your equipment, but if your employees aren’t using the tools properly or following explicit sanitation instructions, you can still run into a heap of trouble!
Next up is placing importance on the procedures themselves. Are you cooking fresh raw chicken or precooked frozen chicken? Take a guess as to which is less likely to cause problems. Thinking about simple adjustments like this can make a huge difference in reducing your risk of accidental food poisoning. Instilling the FIFO method for rotating foods, (first in, first out) is another easy procedural change that keeps your products moving and prevents customers from getting old, stale items.
If there is only one thing you adopt into your foodservice culture, let it be food safety!
Since we write about cstore foodservice on the blog all the time, it seemed only fitting to share just a few of our favorite topics in this recap blog in case you missed them. For folks just getting started in foodservice there is a lot to consider before taking the plunge and this blog on the basics is a great starting point. If you're unsure about taking the plunge at all, watch this short videothat highlights the benefits and potential profits that can be derived from adding foodservice to your lineup.
If you're already in the thick of foodservice at your cstore, these three trendsare a great place to turn to when deciding on menu updates and changes. And finally, don't just take our word for it, hear it all for yourself from the godfather of cstore foodservice, Jerry Weiner, in this educational recap!