SCORE helps business move beyond convenience
Convenience stores are everywhere, a place to pull in, fill up your tank, grab a coffee or soda and go on your way. But what does it take to set one place apart from all the others?
That was the dilemma Rick and Cindy Goodman faced when they purchased the Sheldon Street Deli and Texaco Convenience Store in 2014. They understood that the business was depressed, but they had previously invested in a floundering Florida coffee business and, in seven years, turned that around to sell it at a profit.
Knowing that they had done it before, they weren’t intimidated when they decided to acquire the Texaco market with its marginal profits.
With both their families located on the West Coast, Prescott - with its moderate climate and convivial community - was the perfect location for them.
Plus, Rick is car enthusiast and this area offers clubs and shows in which he can participate and Cindy is planning on eventually obtaining a degree in nursing and Yavapai College has an excellent program.
So, they purchased and plunged in to turn the convenience store into a profit making enterprise.
This proved to be much more difficult than they had anticipated. Eventually, Cindy’s sister suggested they contact SCORE. Rick and Cindy investigated SCORE and now call SCORE, “angels of mercy in the small business world.”
SCORE is a nonprofit resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It provides mentors to help small businesses succeed.
They began working with SCORE about six months after buying the business. Rick drolly remarked that, “SCORE rescued us.” What they didn’t know and had to understand was that a convenience market functions quite differently than most other retail businesses and this particular convenience store was located in an industrial section of town.
They were assigned to Dick Milon who, with another counselor who has since relocated to California, stepped in and analyzed everything from the deli menu to the placement of shelving, coolers and products.
Realigning the deli menu was the first thing the SCORE mentors addressed. Next they worked on the pricing structure and setting up the interior to accommodate market flow. The store had an outdoor patio that now provides warm weather seating and a grill and smoker.
Rick, among his many abilities, is a barbecue expert. This expertise allowed them to expand on the deli portion of the business. Rick smokes his ribs and meats seven long hours and then puts them on the grill for a superior barbecue. The burgers are 7 ounces, hand-pressed, seasoned and marinated overnight then grilled, resulting in juicy, flavorful sandwiches. All deli items are freshly prepared, so the quality is excellent.
After the menu and interior ergonomic issues were addressed, Dick tackled the overall marketing plan with Rick and Cindy. They began targeting nearby businesses, such as the motels, Yavapai College and the many industries in the area. They’ve contracted for radio advertisements and have strategically distributed flyers and menus.
The next issue was to go through and refine their inventory, eliminating items that were not selling and replacing them with items their customers were requesting. They contacted their vendors and replaced aging coolers, coffee and soda machines with up-to-date equipment. The coffee grind was replaced with a high-end blend so it provides consistent flavor and aroma. Deli hours are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In the plans for the near future are; providing a catering and delivery service for local businesses and small venues such as family parties or game day home events, covering a portion of the patio so the grill can be easily operated even in the most inclement weather, bringing in additional inside seating and periodic reevaluation of the stock to keep it rotating to bring in seasonal items.
Over the two-plus years they have had the business the Goodman’s have increased their sales about 45 percent; they now have steady customers, some who order food almost daily. In addition to the tourists that flock to the area, Yavapai College brings in traffic as well as other local businesses.
When talking about the assistance SCORE is providing, Cindy exclaimed, “The SCORE mentors are not only knowledgeable and highly skilled, they bring an attitude of enthusiasm, encouragement, compassion and persistence, as well as common sense and direction.”
To help move your business forward and get your own SCORE mentor call 928-778-7438 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.northernarizona.score.org.