Atlanta, GA — “We believe that to truly succeed you have to think big. And that’s exactly what NACS does on a daily basis to deliver compelling value to you,” said NACS President and CEO Hank Armour to attendees at the Oct. 20 NACS Show general session.
Armour shared some of the industry’s big successes over the past year, but the focus was squarely on the future—and how NACS is developing programs that refresh the industry's image, enhance state and local advocacy and harvest best practices on both a national and global level.
Armour introduced attendees to a concept called “working backward,” in which the defined benefits to the end user are defined before any project can be initiated. The first step in this process is to write a press release announcing what success looks like.
“It creates internal discipline in developing programs and keeps the focus on the desired end results,” said Armour. “The strength of this approach is that it forces you to think strategically on what you’re really trying to accomplish.”
Armour then gave the standing-room-only crowd a look at how NACS is applying the working backward strategy to three ongoing initiatives.
The first focused on industry image and the NACS reFresh initiative. He read an aspirational press release citing how NACS is developing a “Great Neighbors” program to recognize how convenience stores are great partners in their communities.
“We’re only in the initial phases of the reFresh initiative and it is already bearing fruit,” said Armour. He noted that:
- Three in five consumers (60%) and nearly three-quarters of millennials (71%), say that convenience stores are offering healthier, nutritious products;
- More than three out of four consumers (77%) say they are favorable to a new convenience store being built in their community; and
- More than half of all consumers (56%) would be more likely to shop at a convenience store if they knew you were involved with charities.
“And here’s the great news. You do care,” said Armour.
Nearly two thirds of NACS member companies (64%) say that they support five or more charities in their communities, and with charitable donations per store averaging $4,100 in direct donations and $2,500 in collected donations, they cumulatively give nearly $1 billion a year to charitable and community causes.
NACS is also actively engaged on a local level, and that was the focus of Armour’s second aspirational press release. He said that NACS has created a new pilot program to help local, state and ethnic associations with advocacy.
“Legislative and regulatory activity at the state and local level has accelerated over the past several years,” he said. To respond to this challenge, NACS is providing tools and resources to a number of state and ethnic associations.
The program provides these associations with
- Issue tracking;
- Data to help them show how important our industry is in their areas;
- Research that is relevant and necessary to confront various onerous regulatory and legislative proposals; and
- Messaging to be used in regulatory campaigns.
In many ways, this initiative is closely linked to the NACS reFresh initiative because it showcases the best our industry has to offer—but at the state and local level.
To a certain extent, this new advocacy program is a continuation of the NACS In-Store program in which members of Congress are invited to come and work in a convenience store. “NACS In Store is a local program with national muscle,” said Armour. He said it was one of the most effective ways our industry has to tell our stories and show legislators how legislation and regulations can affect convenience stores. And, befitting a presidential election year, this year’s NACS In Store events included two events with presidential candidates: one with Ted Cruz and one with Carly Fiorina.
Armour’s third aspirational press release focused on NACS global activities and two new events: the NACS Show Europe and NACS Show Asia.
“This press release is pretty provocative—and we may never get there,” said Armour. But he noted that such a long-term vision has already helped NACS take some very important strategic steps to leverage core competencies.
In 2017 NACS will be holding a Convenience Summit in Europe, visiting Zurich, Switzerland, and London, and will hold a similar Summit in Asia, visiting Sapporo and Tokyo, Japan
“There is immense power and success in learning from countries that have already addressed an issue, or exploited an opportunity, and adapting those learnings to your local market and culture,” said Armour, noting that there are attendees from more than 70 countries at the NACS Show. And the NACS Convenience Matters podcasts, which debuted earlier this year, are already being downloaded in 40-plus countries.
Armour concluded by noting that each of three aspirational headlines he outlined are only possible because of the unique role that NACS members play in sharing ideas and telling the industry’s story.
“It’s your voice that is making a difference on a local level, on a national level and on a global level. Thanks so much for your support,” Armour concluded.
The NACS Show is the premier event of the year for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. More than 20,000 attendees from 60-plus countries are at the 2016 NACS Show in Atlanta, which features four days of general sessions, more than 60 education sessions and more than 1,200 exhibiting companies in a nearly 410,000 net-square-foot expo. For the most up-to-date news and information on the event, go to nacsshow.com.