1. Department & Category

Now is the Time for C-Stores too Cultivate Fresh Food Fanatics


Roll, roll, roll
away roller grill
, was the refrain from Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at
Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®. 
Clearly Johnson’s call was on target and years ahead of other industry
experts.  Once again however, fresh
prepared foods are a potential goldmine for convenience stores (c-stores), but
convincing customers to ditch the roller grill routine requires a strategic
shift. In this article, we’ll delve into the insights of C-store foodservice expert
Ben Lucky, who recently shared his wisdom at the 2024 Convenience Foodservice

Who Are You? The Redwood Effect

Lucky’s opening salvo, “Who are you?” challenges
c-stores to forge a distinct foodservice identity. He likens successful
programs to redwoods – rooted deep in understanding their customers. Unlike the
“oil company mentality” of minimizing waste, fresh food necessitates
embracing calculated risk.

The key is offering enticing options that go beyond
microwave reheats. Customers are savvy and crave quality, which translates to
long-term loyalty – a stark contrast to the short-term pitfall of prioritizing
waste reduction over customer satisfaction.

Listen, Learn, Adapt: The Foundation of Fresh Food Success

Foodservice operators must become students of their
customers’ desires. Lucky emphasizes this as the foundation of a winning
program. He urges c-stores to move beyond dictating preferences and instead
prioritize active listening.

Building Your Recipe for Success

To curate a compelling fresh food program, Lucky outlines a
three-step recipe gleaned from his conversation with foodservice expert Richard

Define Your Vision
and Mission:

A clear roadmap is essential. What will differentiate your offerings?

Highlight Your
Identify what sets you apart from the
competition. Consider unique services or targeted products that resonate with
your target market.

Craft Your Content Strategy: With a strong foundation in place, you can develop a
content strategy to effectively communicate your offerings.

Know Yourself, Know Your Guests: Obsessed or Just

Self-awareness is crucial. Are you passionate about fresh
food, or merely dipping your toes in the water? This level of commitment will
permeate your program’s success.

The Secret Sauce: It’s Not Just About the Food

Fresh, flavorful ingredients are a cornerstone, but the
magic lies in the experience. Consider the visual appeal, enticing aromas, and
even the sounds of your kitchen.

Standing Out From the Flock: It’s All About Differentiation

In a crowded market saturated with chicken options,
standing out requires creativity. Perhaps it’s unique flavor profiles,
innovative condiments, or a willingness to adapt your offerings.

The Secret Sauce Ingredients: It’s a Team Effort

Lucky emphasizes that foodservice thrives on collaboration.
Invest in hiring skilled staff and providing them with proper training in
foodservice best practices.

Embrace Experimentation: Sample, Adapt, and Surprise

Sampling programs are a goldmine for gathering customer
insights. Be prepared to let go of preconceived notions and embrace the

Customization is King: Empower Your Customers

Simple customization options can elevate your offerings.
Consider offering an array of condiments or toppings to cater to individual

Stay the Course: Thrive, Don’t Just Survive

Once you’ve established your vision and cultivated a
quality program, resist the urge to compromise. Deliver the exceptional
customer experience you set out to create, and watch your fresh food program

By following these Grocerant Guru® insights and leveraging
the power of fresh, prepared foods, c-stores can transform themselves into
customer magnets, forging a loyal following one satisfied bite at a time.

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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