Richmond Shell - John Letzig
Imagine owning and running four convenience stores in the same town—all with different brands! We spoke with customer John Letzig (pictured on the left with a CarterEnergy Retail Support Specialist) about his unique experience doing just that in the small town of Richmond, Missouri.
What inspired you to get into the c-store business?
I built Richmond Shell in 1999 from the ground up. Soon after, I bought the local BP in an effort to keep the competition out. In 2007, Break Time sold the store that is now my Sinclair, so I purchased it as well. Finally, I purchased the local Cenex in 2014 for the same reason. I now I have four stores in Richmond.
What challenges have you faced with your businesses and how have you addressed them?
Employees and customer service. It’s hard to find good help these days, and to also retain them. All of our managers go through extensive training on a weekly basis, which covers customer service skills. We also work very hard to keep our restrooms as clean as possible at all times; that is a big key to our success.
What key elements did you want in your store?
Making sure sites were updated was key. I have already been, or am currently, in the process of updating all POS at all of my sites to meet EMV compliance requirements with Ruby Topaz. In early 2015, we upgraded the Shell image to RVIE, which gave the store a bold and fresh new look. We added watchfire LED reader boards to Shell, Sinclair and Cenex in 2015. This has really helped our advertising over the past year. We just finished a renovation on the BP location and doubled the store’s size, which is exciting. Adding new products, such as ice cream machines for the summer and expanding our food offering has also helped.
What makes you different from your competition?
Our people. Many of our employees are from Richmond and are involved in the community. They know the majority of our customers by name and that keeps them coming back. Each store has its own unique customer base, too. We strive for nice, clean restrooms, which is something we are known for.
What has been your key to success so far?
I would have to say being able to add stores to my portfolio and doing so logically. I don’t want to fight the battles everyday with large chain operations, so I have found a way to increase company revenues while also giving great service and products to our customer base.
I have been with CarterEnergy since 1999, when we built my first store (a Texaco at the time). Carter assisted me in building that site and has helped me add the other three stores during our journey together.
We have a great relationship with our Area Manager. We are always working together on ideas for store improvements, updated images, advertising and day-to-day business operations and ideas. He helps with mystery shops, co-op, fuel bids and helps get us the best deals possible for our sites with Major Oil. CarterEnergy helps keep us informed about upcoming EMV deadlines and brand news, through their brand bulletins.
What are some possible future directions for your stores?
I just finished doubling the size of my BP. I added coolers, a beer cave, an ice box and a seating area to the store. We updated the bathrooms into spacious, modern restrooms. We are hopeful this will increase revenues by 20%. We will be adding marine premium at the Sinclair store to hopefully generate more traffic flow and revenue with bikers and lake goers. We are always on the look-out for new, innovative ideas that can help any of our stores grow in their own unique way!
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