It is a new year, and everyone in our business is celebrating turning the page on one of the most challenging years our industry has faced in decades. It has been fascinating to see how many questions I'm getting about what is in store for the industry in 2021 and 2022. It is not that I never get these types of year-end questions, but the sheer number I'm getting now is a bit shocking.
So, if you have not already, NOW, not in two to three months, is the time to take a good, hard look at where your business is today, how it has changed year over year, and plan for where you want to go from here.
In my past as well as today, I like to ask myself and my team some customer-centric questions related to the health of the business.
To start, I feel there are three questions you should ask yourself about your customer and your business in general:
- Who are my customers today? If you have read a blog or two of mine, I consistently say you need to understand your customer. Although the pandemic has severely limited my travel, I was surprised to see one thing during the few excursions I took to visit locations: we often miss the mark related to understanding who our customers are. COVID-19 has impacted traffic habits for both local customers and over-the-road drivers. Business as usual is more like business as unusual. It would be helpful to look at the traffic patterns at your locations to see how they have changed and the percentage of local vs. OTR traffic today. It is also essential to differentiate the heavy users from those just passing through.
- How are we doing over time? Over the past six months, have your competitors opened or closed down new locations? Have new entrants to the market opened? Have businesses that never played in your space now looking to drive business from your site to theirs? Has the grocery store next to you begun to sell commercial diesel? You may have some anecdotal intelligence of a shift in their volumes and traffic, but what can you determine in comparing yours to theirs? If you are thinking about new site selections, what data are you using to make your go/no-go decisions, and is that data still relevant based on the past year's changes in customer behavior?
- What can I do to generate a greater share of wallet? In many previous blogs, we have hammered home the importance of increasing wallet share, specifically related to food and retail. The sheer cost of acquiring a new customer is staggering compared to increasing wallet share from existing customers. Yet so much time and effort is spent on the acquisition of new customers. Improved penetration of existing customers' spend generates significant profit and sales returns. You may be deciding to add to your locations' offerings to increase your share of wallet. It is smart to understand customer behavior and how to reach your current customers and those who frequent the businesses or competitors across the street. If you know how to target current and potential customers more efficiently and effectively, your investment will have a better return rate.
So, I have good news and a solution for you. All these considerations can be addressed through Geo-Framing technology, a service provided through Marjorie Kass & Associates, one of our allied members, and is exclusive to NATSO.
Geo-Framing would help you identify traffic patterns, both locally and OTR, spot changes in behavior over the past six months, conduct a competitive analysis and optimize traffic data for new site evaluations. You can also develop custom dashboards with demographic information by zip code locations, income levels, household size and other criteria.
If you are interested in finding out more about this new technology, please contact Marjorie Kass at Marjorie@mkassociates.biz.
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