by: Duncan McArthur
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> Armor All’s Essential Blends oil-infused air fresheners
CINCINNATI, OH – June 11, 2018 – DeanHouston, Inc., a leading full-service, business-to-business, integrated marketing communications firm, will celebrate its 30th anniversary as an agency this year.
Since launching in the summer of 1988, DeanHouston has undergone a significant transformation mirroring that of the rapidly evolving business landscapes in which it operates. With co-founders Dale Dean, Greg Houston and Pam Houston at the helm – and also as the only staff members – their small technical products-focused boutique agency quickly developed into a fully integrated organization that today employs more than 70 talented marketing professionals operating from the company’s offices located in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Chicago and Shanghai.
The company boasts a full range of integrated marketing services, beginning with strategic marketing followed by traditional and digital marketing strategies, brand development, graphic design, web design and development, media and publicity, video production, and 3D animation. DeanHouston is also at the forefront of virtual and augmented reality, which is rapidly being embraced in the technical products service industries.
TORONTO, Ont. - We have turned the corner on harsh winter weather, and spring is here.
Spring is a time of renewal and refreshment as nature comes back to life, giving friends and family the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. As we trade icicles for flowers and snow angels for pool loungers, the warmer weather brings sights and smells that brighten up our day. Smells of lavender, vanilla, citrus and eucalyptus are just a few of the familiar and inviting scents gifted to us by spring.
Even though scents of nature fill the springtime air, some people may have too much on their to-do lists to truly relax and enjoy the outdoors. Armor All is now bringing the natural scents of spring directly into your car. The new Essential Blends air fresheners are infused with essential oil blends of lemon bergamot, eucalyptus mint, pink grapefruit, citrus pomegranate and vanilla lavender, giving you the scents of spring wherever you go.
"The inspiration behind Essential Blends came from looking at the average person's daily to-do list and thinking of how we could make those little in-between moments relaxing," says Megan Currie, Spectrum Brands director of marketing for Armor All. "A lot of people are in their cars for a good portion of their day, whether they are commuting to work or doing errands. We wanted to transform that daily routine into a comforting experience."
Essential oils are known for their refreshing and restorative properties. Helping to relieve headaches, relax the mind or even energize the body, the benefits from essential oils are endless.
“To succeed, stay out in front of change. You can’t just keep doing what works one time. Everything around you is changing.”
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.
Sam Walton knew a thing or two about satisfying his customers and the quote above reinforces the importance of embracing change in order to stay ahead of his competitors. If you are a convenience store owner/operator in today’s environment, you need to be constantly looking for ways to provide your customers with the best retail experience possible. This means, among other things, making sure your store is viewed as a destination by your customers, a place where they enjoy their shopping experience.
Sure, big corporate chains have deeper pockets than you and can afford to spend many thousands of dollars upgrading each of their locations, but in my experience, you can achieve outstanding results with very little investment.
Analysis – ask yourself these questions:
Now that you have completed your analysis, you should have a good idea as to where the greatest opportunities lie. Now you need to develop a design/re-design plan to maximize those opportunities.
Let’s say that you have identified improved sight lines into your store and an enhanced food service offering as two key areas for improvement. Your plan should include the removal of any displays over 54 inches in height, or replacing existing shelving with lower profile gondolas, again keeping in mind maximum height for sight lines and enhanced security and safety for your customers and staff. Prepare a drawing of your store that incorporates your analysis and achieves your goal for sight lines and food service offerings. Ask key sales representatives for feedback and suggestions. Representatives from companies such as Core-Mark International have expertise in many areas, and can help ensure your plan is a success.
Perhaps you are an independent owner/operator aligned with a major gasoline banner – if so, approach your district manager and inquire about shelving that may be surplus as a result of corporate re-models. Often, these majors will have shelving available for little or no cost. Companies such as McCowan Manufacturing can provide modern shelving solutions for your re-design depending on the budget you are working with. Again, leverage your vendors, who may be aware of other projects that could result in fixtures being available at very competitive prices.
You have identified that your customers are looking for an enhanced food service offering. This could be in the form of fresh sandwiches versus longer life C02 product. You may need to source out a new supplier that can provide these offerings, although if you operate in a smaller centre, this can be difficult. Again, a distributor such as Core-Mark will be able to assist you, and also provide equipment solutions to effectively display your new fresh sandwiches. Or, you may have decided to offer your customers a hot food offering (pizza, chicken, etc.) My advice is to focus on one offering at a time, with food safety and handling as absolute priorities. Working with your vendors, show your customers that you are committed to providing them good tasting food in a clean and safe environment.
When developing your food service plan, think about the add-on sales opportunities that this can represent for your store. For example, most food service purchases will include a drink, or a salted snack. Ensure that these products are prominently displayed near your food service area so that customers are encouraged to make these incremental purchases. Also think about adding some additional lighting (pot lights, track lighting) to highlight your new product offerings.
It is important to balance these displays against making it convenient for your customers to access your new/enhanced product offerings. Too many displays or fixtures can actually hurt sales. Be careful and ensure that you keep your displays well stocked with impulse and add-on products.
Depending on the scope of your re-model, you may be able to achieve it without significant disruption to your business and your customers. However, you might need to consider closing your store for a limited period to ensure the safety of your customers and ultimately a more effective implementation. Select a slower time of the day or week to implement your plan, and consider bringing in extra staff to assist. As well, vendors can be a valuable resource, and can be called upon to assist, particularly with respect to moving/re-merchandising their specific sections as part of the plan. Once you have completed your re-design, and after making sure that it is working as planned, think about a grand re-opening to make sure your customers are aware of your changes. Work with key vendors for product specials, giveaways, etc. Customers enjoy the buzz and excitement that these activities generate.
Start small. A wise consultant once told me that “continuous improvement is better than postponed perfection.” In other words, if you make your project too large and ambitious, you may never achieve it. By working at improving your store in this fashion, you’ll learn more, and ultimately be better with each project. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make substantive changes to your store. Customers will respond positively to change that is intended to make their shopping experience more enjoyable, (and profitable for you). Test, modify, measure, repeat. Best in class retailers got that way by following those principles. Remember what Sam Walton said about change. Good luck!
Duncan McArthur is an independent consultant specializing in the gas/convenience channel. He has over 30 years experience in marketing, operations, and merchandising roles with companies such as Couche-Tard, Shell, Husky and Parkland, working extensively with Corporate and Independent Retailers. He can be reached at DGRMcArthur@gmail.com
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