Acting on impulse
Champions of the impulse market, Eddie and Annette Tobin have won the C-Store Gold Award for Stores less than 2,000 sq ft for a second consecutive year
18 January 2011
Fortunately for Donegal’s denizens, no motorist will need to travel far to find a first-rate forecourt, as retailer Eddie Tobin has already put in the necessary miles for them. In fact, the c-store owner has journeyed as far as Atlanta in an ongoing bid to gain inspiration and new ideas to improve his award-winning forecourt even further.
“I have travelled to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) conference in Atlanta with Topaz which included an inspection trip to the top forecourt outlets in the Atlanta market,” explains Tobin. “This trip was very interesting in both what we saw in America and also from the shared learning among the retailers on the trip.”
This dedication to observing the market certainly wasn’t a one-off however, as he also notes: “We visit any sites that are featured in trade magazines that we feel we could gain ideas from.”
Hard work pays off
The commitment shown by Tobin and his team in constantly striving to offer only the best has paid off, as 2010 saw them scoop the gold award for stores under 2,000 sq ft, for their second consecutive year. Not an easy feat to pull off, considering the high level of competition that exists in their marketplace, with 12 service stations located within a five mile radius of their store.
“For our team, winning the award for the second year in a row demonstrates that we have maintained and improved our standards in what was a difficult trading year,” says the successful retailer. “Our team see this award as recognition for the hard work that they have put in.”
Focusing on value
Having achieved excellent standards in 2009, the team put all their energies into ensuring customer satisfaction remained just as high if not better throughout 2010. “We have introduced a lot of value offers as this is what the customer is looking for,” notes Tobin. “We paid particular attention to the student market as the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) college adjacent to us has now just short of 3000 students attending. We also worked hard on ensuring that our high standards were maintained with particular emphasis on ensuring the highest levels of customer service were upheld.”
Indeed, focusing on delivering the best possible price for customers was a crucial concern for the Tobins this year. “As our store is very impulse led we have had to focus hard on value offers to try to maintain turnover,” notes the store owner. Two areas of the business which have delivered a strong return however were 3V vouchers, which he says “have shown a major increase this year” and the group’s deli, which has “performed well in a challenging market.”
Fulfilling high expectations
And although the Tobins put a great deal of hard work into maintaining their hard-earned reputation, Eddie says he has also gained a great deal of enjoyment from working within the trade. “Ours is a family business established over 30 years and we particularly enjoy interacting with our customers, many of whom have been regulars for a very long time.”
The team are subsequently forging ahead with a confident attitude going into 2011. Their main goal will be “continuing to maintain our standards as we believe customers have high expectations in the current environment.” Adding a full off-licence to their popular Letterkenny store is also on their agenda as a result of “the market becoming more geared towards people staying in.” ShelfLife also wishes the group all the very best for their final goal of the new year: “To be in the shake up for the overall C Store award in 2011!”