Highway 7 General Store - JC Patel
Highway 7 General Store, owned by JC and Dharmi Patel and located off of Highway 7 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is a BP-branded gas station/convenience store frequented by local customers and travelers alike. This 7,500 square foot store, purchased in 2012, offers much to its customers: a deli (serving fresh, hot food), fresh fruit, a large beer cave, local baked goods, live fish bait, a wide variety of snacks, a robust beverage program (including great coffee) and souvenirs. Their 3-acre lot has six pumps, which offer regular fuel, Diesel (at two pumps) and Marina Premium with no ethanol (at 4 pumps), for boats, motorcycles, wave runners and other specialized vehicles.
JC Patel, the store’s co-owner, took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about his business and his five-year partnership with CarterEnergy.
What inspired you to get into the convenience store business?
My family has been in the c-store the business for many years. After getting my degree in Computer Science, I decided to get into the business myself and opened my first store. It’s a great business to be in—in any economy— because we provide products and services people need on a daily basis.
What are some of the challenges you face with your business and what have you done to address them?
Customer service is one big area we’ve always tried to focus on regularly. We have a customer suggestion box to make us aware of any issues so we can keep improving behavior to give our customers the best service possible.
What makes you different from your competition?
We have the best hot food in the area. We have a full-service kitchen and serve breakfast and other food, just like in grandma’s kitchen. This includes everything from breakfast sandwiches and ready-to-order breakfast food, to burgers and fries, pork tenderloin sandwiches, fried chicken and pizza. In addition to that, we have a roller grill and an ice cream station. Finally, we also offer delicious baked good from our local Amish residents, which no one else around us carries.
What has been your key to success so far?
We keep our inventory up-to-date, serve fresh food, provide great customer service, and have the best fuel prices in area. I also have the luxury of a very large lot, which makes it easy for customers to get in and maneuver around. I can accommodate anything, from semis, RV’s and buses, to people hauling boats or large campers.
We’ve been working with CarterEnergy for five years now. I have known our CarterEnergy rep, Tyler Milligan, since 2008, when we bought four stores in northern Iowa. It was a very smooth transition and CarterEnergy helped me convert those four Kum & Go locations to the Cenex brand. This started our relationship, which has been good ever since.
In addition, CarterEnergy brings me new opportunities in the market to help me grow my business. They assist with new products and services and supply fuel in a timely manner, at the best available price.
What are some possible future directions for your store?
There are several. Specifically, I want to become a third-party franchisor and offer that food in our deli. I want to expand the area behind our store with an additional fueling area, with canopy, to accommodate more diesel customers. I plan offer off-road and clear Diesel with high flow capability. Finally, I want to open multiple locations in the Kansas City area and grow my business 300% over the next year.
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