By Kent Schlesselman, Solutions Consultant
The Open Championship of golf will take place this month at Royal Birkdale on the northwest coast of England (not too far from Kalibrate headquarters in Manchester, UK). At the conclusion of the competition — a contest that thoroughly tests the abilities of each golfer — the well-deserved title of the “Champion Golfer of the Year” will be announced. Those who play golf and follow the tournament will be reminded of the gap between your own skill level and that of the Champion Golfer. Fortunately, the game of golf is one where you can actually make improvements with proper instruction, practice and a measurement of performance. The challenge is knowing what needs to be improved, how to make those improvements and whether the changes will lead to success.
It may surprise you to learn that convenience retailers face similar challenges when it comes to improving the volume potential of their fuel retail network. As in golf, it is critical to have a proven system for identifying needed improvements, evaluating progress and measuring success.
For the golfer, organizations such as the U.S. Golf Association have been kind enough to develop a handicap system for measurement, a system that incorporates quantification of course difficulty. If you track your scores carefully and incorporate the course difficulty metrics, you will clearly see if your handicap is improving or not. Just by tracking your handicap and being conscious of how you are scoring, you will typically see improvements in your game.
For the convenience retailer, sophisticated business intelligence products and services provide the needed insight and measurement. These tools can help identify specific areas for improvement and track overall progress. Kalibrate’s 7 Elements for Fuel and Convenience Retail Success, for example, provide a clear picture of your current competitive level relative to your competition. A focus on the 7 Elements can help you identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie, incorporating the complex challenges into your wellness assessment, similar to the golf handicap system. These 7 Elements include:
- Market: Are you in tune with the competitive environment where you do business and are you prepared for any changes that may come?
- Location: How convenient are the outlets in your network to your customers, both local and transient?
- Facility: Are the sites in your network of sufficient size and properly outfitted to meet the demand of those served by your suite of locations?
- Operations: Are things running as smoothly as possible at the individual store level?
- Brand: Does all you do on a site-by-site basis for the whole of your network roll up into something more attractive than what your competitors offer? And beyond that, is there a “Wow!” factor?
- Merchandising: How do the outlets in your retail network sell themselves to your customers? Do they have the proper products and services to meet the needs of your customers?
- Price: Does your price position reflect your overall company strategy?
As a filter for decision making, the 7 Elements can help you quantify a potential volume that is achievable based on your specific offer and competitive environment. By tracking these metrics over time, you can see the improvement in your retail network and whether you are achieving potential in every possible area. Through knowing which metrics need to be improved, identifying the areas where full potential can be achieved and consistently tracking progress, you can build consensus within your organization about how to improve overall performance.
For the golfer, The Professional Golfers' Association places teaching professionals at each private or semi-private club and municipal golf course to help golfers improve their skills and overall performance. Those same clubs and municipal courses also provide practice facilities where you can continue to hone your skills.
For the convenience retailer, companies offering sophisticated business intelligence and models for measuring performance also provide experts with decades of experience to help you identify the improvements that will have the most impact on your retail network. Using sophisticated assessments — like the 7 Elements — you can go through a logical sequence of steps to evaluate your existing performance and maximize your future potential. The models provide a mode for “practice” to see how individual sites or your entire retail network can improve.
And here is where the analogy ends. Because no matter what degree of sophisticated equipment the professional golf instructor employs, that instructor will be unable to quantify your true potential in a score or a number. As a convenience retailer, you can quantify your true potential. By employing a sophisticated retail model, you will be able to quantify the potential for each, individual outlet, and for your retail network as a whole. With the implementation of the proper tools, you can determine which actions should be taken to achieve that potential.