Want to run a more successful foodservice program?
1. Focus on quality. One-of-a-kind offers made with quality ingredients will keep customers coming back for more.
2. Understand the power of coffee. Coffee is a significant traffic driver so ensure there’s always a fresh pot brewing.
3. Converse with customers. Encourage staff members to get to know customers. Building relationships will ensure repeat visits.
Cara Tarini comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and at 30 years old, she fits right in. “You can say that I come by this honestly,” she says. “My family’s been in the retail business since the time of my great grandfather’s tailor shop in Europe.”
Tarini worked in the family-run c-store while attending high school and college, where she trained to become a nurse. After graduating and working in the field for four years, she realized she couldn’t stay away from the store. As she says, it’s always been her primary passion, and since 2008, she’s been managing their Sudbury, ON store, (and her namesake) Cara’s Convenience.
If you live in Sudbury, you likely know about Cara’s Convenience – especially the freshly made sandwiches. Two signature sandwiches stand out among regular customers – ‘The Paul Bunyon’ and ‘The Porketta’. The Paul Bunyon was created with fresh-baked bread, which is made on site, and stacked high with meat. The Porketta is a well-known pork sandwich in Sudbury, and the Tarinis do it well. Also on the menu are salads, fresh-cut fruit, and homemade pizza.
Customers can enjoy their hearty meals in the designated seating area, which seats 36 diners for breakfast or lunch.
Customers don’t just head to Cara’s for food, though; they also show up for their daily coffee fix. Coffee is incredibly important for Tarini. “Quality is key,” she says. “To understand coffee, you must understand the Canadian culture.
“Coffee is so much more than just an added offering. It’s often a customer’s primary reason to stop and visit on the way to work. It’s there throughout the day for local industry and in the evenings when the neighbourhood residents want a place to relax,” she says.
But the high-quality products alone won’t keep the customers coming back on a regular basis. It’s all about treating customers as friends, and providing great products and service they won’t find anywhere else.
“Staff is encouraged to view customers as friends in the community and not as walking wallets. It sounds like a silly distinction, but I’ve seen other places do it the other way around and the results are not pretty,” she says, adding that staff members look forward to seeing their customers on a daily basis.
But as Tarini points out, this attitude has to start at the top. “Spending time conversing with customers is encouraged here and is part of the business. It’s not viewed as time wasted,” says Tarini. “Customers are everything.”