1. Department & Category

Dash In Convenience Stores, Can’t Beat Them Join Them


You all know the
old adage ‘When you can’t beat them join them’. 
Well at Dash-In convenience stores they have been watching the ilk of
Sheets and Wawa gobble market share by providing customers a once unique experience
now a common place experience. That being restaurant quality meals from a
non-traditional restaurant footprint and concept. 

Yes, once again
Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. Back in the day
when Steven Johnson the
Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solution®, first started focusing
on this niche it was called ‘home meal replacement’ aka not cooking dinner from
scratch.  Well basically that is still
what it is all about.

Wills Group Inc. owners of Dash In convenience stores, spent years developing
its Dash In convenience store brand’s identity as a neighborhood store that
reflects its community, leading to the 2023 opening of a new prototype store in
Chantilly, Va. However, rather than view the flagship location as the culmination
of its efforts, the company is continuing its transformative efforts, with Mark
Samuels helping to pave the way as the newly appointed executive vice president
of convenience retailing. Now below are excerpts from CSNews:

continued told CSnews;  “Over the past several years, we have
been diligently working on what we would consider a ‘disruptive’ convenience
concept that breaks out of the traditional norms and expectations for
c-stores,”…. “Transformation will only happen with disruption.”
Note: what is disruptive to one may simply be the norm for the industry with companies
the ilk of Circle K, BP, and 7 Eleven.   

is needed if you want to be around 20 years from now. In his new role comes
more than 26 years after Samuels’ first day with the Wills Group as an area
manager for Dash In. Since then, he has continually pushed the Dash In team to
examine what convenience retail innovation could look like while leading the
company’s focus to go above and beyond regarding customer service, according to
Wills Group President and CEO Julian B. (Blackie) Wills III.

who will now lead the Dash In and ECO Car Wash lines of business as well as
oversee its continued expansion across the Mid-Atlantic, noted that foodservice
is central to but not the sole focus of the company’s plans.

short, we want to position Dash In as a
restaurant that also sells convenience, fuel and provides car wash
services,” he said. That is exactly what Wawa and Sheetz said 10 years
ago.  It’s not to late in the case of
Dash In.

the Wills Group plans to standardize its offering using its new prototype
facilities and brand identity throughout the Dash In network, then scale its
growth through new, existing and adjacent markets. On the car wash side of the
business, Splash In recently added express exterior tunnel washes with monthly
membership programs. There are also plans to expand Splash In offerings as both
standalone facilities and at Dash In locations.

is most important for me in my new role within the organization is to prepare
my team and other key stakeholders for the rapid growth we are about to embark
on, and then execute at a very high level,” Samuels said.

case you did not know, Dash In’s foodservice program, which earned the company
the Prepared Foods Innovator of the
 award in the CSNews’ 2023 Foodservice Innovators Awards program,
will be a big part of that growth, as it serves as the “backbone” of
the brand. The new menu will be deployed to all locations, but this won’t be a
one-and-done. Continued menu iteration will be based on guest preferences and
food trends.

our guests think of Dash In, we want them to think of it as ‘their place’ to
get great food on the go,” Samuels said. “What separates us from
others is that our wholesome menu is made from fresh ingredients, right in our
kitchens, every day by our team members.”

noteworthy aspect of the Dash in menu is that despite its large size and
expansive customization options, the company typically does not see one item
outperform others. “They all earn their spot on the menu every

envisions Dash In finding success through achieving the right balance; the
brand “is our guests’ local, neighborhood store that is large enough to
have what the guest needs, but small enough to create engaging experiences with
our team members. Delivering a best-in-class guest interaction that makes
our guest’s day a bit better is our North Star.”

in-store enhancements include an all-new fresh bakery program with pastries and
cookies baked on-site, as well as an offering that lets guests customize
smoothies, shakes, frappes and more. Outside, the company will continue to lean
into its membership program at both express exterior Splash In locations as
well as its network of 50-plus in-bay automatic washes, along with a recent
upgraded chemistry program that offers triple protection and “unparalleled
shine” for vehicles.

Dash In is taking a big-picture approach to its customer experience goals.

want to build trust with our guests, and with that trust, expand our
relationship with them to include food, fuel and car wash in one convenient
stop,” Samuels said.

in 1926 and headquartered in La Plata, the Wills Group operates nearly 300
retail locations across the Mid-Atlantic region, including the Dash In, Splash
In ECO Car Wash and SMO Motor Fuels banners. 

In currently operates more than 55 locations throughout Maryland, Virginia and

Invite Foodservice
Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or
placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®. 
Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the
global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact:
[email protected] or 253-759-7869

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