The CMSI Blog

Our Blog provides editorial commentary from our experts on a variety of subjects in and around the retail industry and their individual spheres of influence. Discussing upcoming trends, the state of the industry, and the bright spots from recent projects and trade shows.

20 Sep 2017 - 11:09 PM

The Importance of Pulling Together

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As we all know, the last month has brought devastation to various parts of our country. Hurricanes in Texas and Florida. Wildfires in Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington state. Heat waves in New York and New Jersey. These natural events have had a huge impact on individuals, communities, and businesses. We operate stores in all of these states. Some of our team members have been directly affected by these events. We are thankful that no one (or their family) have been injured or have lost their homes. When you know and work with people in the affected areas it makes the problems real – it becomes a greater catastrophe than what you might read in the paper. As they say,…
14 Feb 2017 - 06:02 AM

Training Day - Every Day

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As we’ve expanded our operations over the last few months (we are currently operating sites in 9 states), I’ve been reminded how consistent training is so important to a successful operation and an engaged team.  It’s a topic that I keep coming back to on a regular basis – as you can see from my previous postings – and I believe that it is the cornerstone of what we are doing.   A fully implemented training program allows store personnel to feel confident in their job performance, provide a higher level of customer service, and reduces staff turnover.  When someone feels that they know what they are doing they are more adept at providing innovative solutions to problems and issues…
12 Aug 2016 - 12:08 AM

How Not to Catch a Thief

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Everyone knows that theft is a major issue in the convenience store industry.   The general public hears about robberies in the media all of the time.  Convenience stores are caricatured as easy places to rob.  Many of our stores are open 24 hours a day giving people with bad intent places to go late at night like moths to a light bulb.   To an extent, this perception creates a self-fulfilling prophecy:  c-stores are robbed because we think c-stores are robbed.  The cycle starts and then continues, spiraling ever downwards.   This is the public perception.  The truth, though, is very different.  There are actually very few convenience store robberies and, on a per event basis, the largest number of…
12 May 2016 - 10:05 PM

Digital Needs in an Analog World

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There is not a more analog job than driving a long haul truck.  In this profession, everything is rooted in the real world.  The trucks, trailers, and cargo exist.  They are tangible.  And they go from one place to another in real time through real space in the real world.   This week I am attending the DAS Travel Center Show as an invited guest.  Visiting the expo and talking to the attendees reinforces how complicated it is to move something from one place to another.  The professionals who drive transports for a living have a set of needs and requirements that differ greatly from the average motorist on our roads.  The travel center industry has developed and evolved to…
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A few weeks ago I attended the NACS Leadership Assembly in Miami (which I highly recommend, by the way, if you can get an invitation).  One of the objectives of the LA is to look over the horizon to see threats to the c-store business of the future.   The main topics of this year’s session dealt with the Internet and the new businesses that it is enabling – online shopping, next day or same day delivery, and grocery ordering.  Admittedly, the Internet is allowing people to have faster access to a wider array of goods and services.  You can buy almost anything online today and have it delivered tomorrow – or even this afternoon.  There is no doubt that…
17 Feb 2016 - 02:02 PM

I'm Back!

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My apologies for my absence from the site over the last few months.    2015 was a very busy year for us.   We expanded our business by including more sites into our program through handling several “distressed” sites during foreclosures and receiverships and by adding more long-term sites with owners who want to own and control the retail business but don’t want the hassle and headaches of operating it.   We’ve brought on new staff, have updated many of our policies and procedures related to site operations, and have expanded the amount of information that we are able to provide to our clients.  The overall result is that our program is even more robust and transparent than it was in…
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Over the last few posts we’ve been exploring the idea of being competitive in today’s retail market.  One of the ways be being competitive is to create or introduce new products and services to help your customers.  So the question became – where do we get the ideas we need to stay competitive?  I’ve suggested that there are three groups that as stakeholders we need to listen to so that we understand the market and our customer’s needs.  The first is the customer herself and the second group is our store staff. Probably the most unlikely group that we need to listen to is our competitors.  For most retailers, the rival companies vying for the same customer is the last…
09 Oct 2014 - 08:10 AM

Do You Hear What I Hear? (Part 3)

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We are in the middle of a set of posts that talk about how listening can help a retailer stay competitive in today’s market place.  I think that there are three distinct groups that we need to listen to.  The first is the customer.  We need to try to learn what they want from us. The second group is our employees.  The input from this group is often overlooked when a company is putting together a marketing plan.  Traditionally, most merchandising and marketing decisions are made from the top down.  This actually makes a lot of sense as the folks in the “head office” usually have a good overview of the industry, have been informed by suppliers of new products…
18 Sep 2014 - 04:09 PM

Do You Hear What I Hear? (Part 2)

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During this cycle of posts I’ve been writing about the need to stay competitive to survive in the retail world.  In the last post I started on the need to listen to a specific group of constituents  - customers, employees, and competitors – to determine what you need to do to stay competitive.  We’ve started on listening to customers and I’ve posited that there are two ways to do this.  The first was asking them what they want and listening to the answer. The second method to determine what your customer wants is to listen to what they are actually buying.  Surprisingly, customers don’t always buy what they say they are going into the store to buy.  There are a…
12 Sep 2014 - 09:09 AM

Do you hear what I hear? (Part 1)

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In my last post I wrote about how “compete is a verb” is one of my favorite business sayings.  The bottom line is that if you are not competing every day your business is going to be left behind. So how do we find out what we need to do to stay competitive?  My answer is that we need to listen to three groups – our customers, our employees, and our competition. Our customers will tell us what they want.  Strangely enough, they won’t always be able to tell you what they want when you ask them. Don’t get me wrong, asking customers questions is important and can be done through surveys, interviews, and suggestion forums.  But if you ask…
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