The World's Unsexiest Business
adding a little sizzle to the convenience store industry
During World War II, a significant number of Royal Air Force fighter jets took a beating from German anti-aircraft fire. The jets that made it back were covered in bullet holes from nose to tail and wing to wing. A run-of-the-mill military strategist might have considered implementing a strategy of heavily reinforcing the armory of the areas where the most bullet holes had clustered. Tsk tsk tsk. The peril of conventional herd mentality thinking. Such a strategist has failed to recognize what Hungarian mathematician Abraham Wald would later brilliantly discover: By analyzing where bullet holes were not found, the fate of aircraft that didn't make it could be reasonably determined. All of which pointed a smoking gun to the sections of the aircraft that were the most integral to keeping it from falling out the sky.
Another way to look at this fallacy thinking is what statisticians call survival bias. We tend to focus too heavily on companies/ideas/thoughts/products/developments that have survived rather than the ones that are buried in the book of failures and the forgotten. But can we blame ourselves for it? You can't lament over the death of something you never knew ever existed.
As a convenience store proprietor or chain c-suite office, how do you leverage talent in helping you spot the figurative 'pot of gold' before you're eventually blown out the sky? Sure LinkedIn might help you get there or even down a circuitous path of a ten degrees of separation based man hunt. So as you can imagine buyer beware: Hiring a strategist can be like a dog chasing its own tail. If you're looking for a good strategist, either you better start thinking like one or convey to the world a message. And that in nothing short of wearing a bulls eye on your back.
Let me not dull my argument here by any means. Every organization that is seeking above average profits or even looking to make a huge non-monetary impact--those don't have to be mutually exclusive-- needs someone in their battalion who doesn't think like everyone else in that organization or even industry for that matter. Besides, a herd follower that expends far too much energy chasing a particular 'hot' trend is usually far too late to the game leaving little energy (or money/resources) to try anything else. Distributing the effort allows for not only multiple concurrent and tactical responses but also a way to fast track the path to unique business model discovery.
Whether it's a complete shake up of your business internals or simply an optimization, the strategist can ensure the most direct route.
There's a multi dimension tactical battle being fought by a very large CSGS player (actually more like a behemoth) in the Southern California market. Clearly someone has been their homework and therefore much analysis in how to best direct attention to what matters most. Leaving the rest to well none other than what seems to be "we'll get to it when it becomes important."
If 90% of your bottom line is generated by fueling operations, would you distribute all of your efforts in fixing everything or tactically double down (maybe even 10x) efforts in ensuring fueling dispensers and all related equipment are kept in nothing less than absolute tip-top shape?
Not very far away from such pristine and well maintained fueling equipment sat an "Open 24 Hours" sign in a state of decay far past the point of repair. Adjacent to that, a small kiosk, where the cashier was housed, showed signs of excessive wear and tear. Redirecting our attention back to the fuel price signs situated around the perimeter of the site, we see nothing but careful attention to detail that the poles had no sign of pain damage and the digits were nearly brand new.
If you're constantly reinforcing the armory of the areas where enemy bullet holes are most likely to down your fleet, you'll not only take out your enemy, they'll also run out of ammunition.
Here's a freebie: Dispensers that are experiencing the greatest number of "drive-offs" are being used (and then abused) by distracted drivers. Specifically, those dispensers that are closest to the entrance of the convenience store or the street. Consider adding offensively 'can't miss me' signage or change the color of the hose and boot to a bright fluorescent to redirect attention to the task at hand and away from the distraction .
By the way, the image shown above is what we decided to come up with as a data-driven tactical response to "drive-offs".
When researching marketing ideas do we focus on what's currently working or what ultimately failed. Some of the biggest failures could have yielded the biggest successes but their timeliness or message was off.