Management of retail operations such as convenience stores (C-stores) can be difficult, and are often ripe for a major efficiency upgrade. C-stores offer speedy service to today’s on-the-go consumers who want to get in and out of the store quickly. Their convenient locations, extended hours of operation, one-stop shopping, grab-and-go food service, variety of merchandise and fast transactions are the features that make them desirable channels of trade, but also make management difficult and time consuming. Bill Scott and James Hawkins released the book, “Turning Convenience Stores Into Cash Generating Monsters,” to illustrate the benefits of new technology in building better business operations, especially for those store owners operating more than one store, as is often the case with C-stores. Accounting and inventory software is among the technology that offers C-stores the opportunity to potentially become a cash generating monster, achieving desired margins and reducing the time spent on laborious data entry and administrative tasks.
Accounting and Inventory Software Benefits
Following are the best practices that the right accounting and inventory software can help with:
1) Implement Scanning. Many C-stores have yet to implement scanning. Yet scanning, rather than data entry at the cash register, ensures pricing accuracy and easily identifies errors, while deterring theft or fraud. Also, additional labor savings are gained from improved end-of-day procedures that reconcile cash, credit cards, coupons and store deposits.
2) Control Inventory. With scanning in place, all new stock is scanned in, while all sales are scanned out, allowing for easy tracking of inventory. With inventory controlled electronically, a manager can pinpoint problems and ways to improve sales, as he or she can track by item, level, and cost by department.
3) Increase Gross Margins. Most C-stores struggle with the intricacies of price setting. If it’s priced too high, the sale hits a dead end. If a price is too low, so is profit. Automated price setting will allow for quick changes and easy analysis, detecting the highest possible profit margin on each product.
4) Implement Customized Dashboards: With so many intricate parts to running any business (and a C-store), managers can only truly be managers with the ability to see at a glance how the business is doing day to day. Otherwise, a store manager is nothing but a clerical assistant who spends much of the day tallying sales and manually preparing daily inventory reports. With the correct software, dashboards can be created instantly, allowing insight on how the business is doing year to date, and how that compares with budget planning and more.
At the end of the day, can C-store managers account for every dollar on every item in every store? Do they know which store items are making money and which are simply collecting dust? Most importantly, are they certain they are achieving the margins they want for every item? With the advances in accounting and inventory software today, C-store management can be certain every penny is present and accounted for. As Scott and Hawkins’ publisher emphasizes, “Every now and then, a new technology comes along that creates an exceptional opportunity for the small businessperson to grab the brass ring. Sometimes this opportunity is so dramatic, it allows a motivated and visionary business, regardless of size, to grab huge chunks of it’s competitors’ market by creating a temporary, level playing field.” Such is the case with effective accounting and inventory software.