According to various national polls and surveys, there is significant public confidence in the convenient store’s ability to provide quality fresh foods that are along the lines of restaurant items. This means that once you establish your fare, all you need to do is provide a great-tasting product inexpensively and more conveniently than fast food restaurants. Convenience is already on your side, so you should focus on how to further separate yourself from these fast-food establishments.

Be creative! Your combo meals and snacks can provide great options that quick service restaurants just do not offer. To go lunches that include choice of chips or drink from a much wider option base could be a start. Your store offers flavored potato and corn chips as well as drinks that are not restricted to one of two major soft drink brands. You can provide several flavors of juices, waters, milks, and even beers and other alcoholic beverages.

Right now, fresh and healthy is “where it’s at!” The idea of freshness has many connotations. Raw fruits and vegetables may come to mind, but it pertains to so much more. Meats and sandwiches that you prepare should also be fresh – no pre-packaged or frozen items. And no one wants that hot dog that has been turning since the last visit to your store. Maintain your inventory and monitor the expiration dates on your merchandise. Dust the shelves daily. To your customers, you are what you appear to be.

If you’re getting away from pre-packaged foods, whether cooked or uncooked, then the customers will trust what they can see. Show them what they are getting and/or how it is being prepared. Offer your morning and midday customers breakfast and lunch options. Substantial lunches for adults and children could just as easily provide fresh and healthy foods as could burger and pizza joints. Even if your customers prefer meat sandwiches, they or the sides that accompany them can be fresh and healthy combinations. Remember, if it tastes just as good, or better than the walk-in or drive-thru restaurant down the street, then the additional options, like sides or drink choices, only enhance a great product into a preferred one.

Food and drink trends are fixating on variety and freshness of products, but how will this flow into the next trending thing? One good indicator for prediction is keeping your eye on other markets. Pay attention to what is selling in them, what may be heading your way, how you might incorporate it into your existing inventory, or if you need to invest in space or equipment.