After 20+ years of working in the convenience store industry, we realized that a majority of the people in it happen to be men. We have also noticed over the years that more women are joining the industry and are powering their way to some very influential positions. There are countless behind-the-scenes inside positions and outward-facing executive positions that women today hold in this industry, so we thought we'd take the time to celebrate a few!
Verc Enterprises is one of DataMax's very valued back office software customers and has been in business for over 35 years. It is a family owned convenience store, gas station and car wash group operating 26 facilities in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. Courtney Vercollone, daughter of Verc Enterprises founder Leo Vercollone, is a Category Manager and on the Marketing team for this largely successful chain. Lucky for us, she agreed to answer a few questions about her experience in the industry; and while she was at it, she managed to teach us that being a woman doesn't bar anyone from success in this business!
Here's what what Courtney Vercollone (CV) had to say:
How did you come to work in the convenience industry?
CV: My dad started Verc Enterprises, so you can kind of say I grew up in the industry. I started off filing papers in the office at 16 years old, and I moved up to cashier when I was old enough. In college, I had a summer job endorsing the Speedpass for Exxon and Mobil. The following year, I had a summer internship with Gulf Oil in the marketing department. I also spent a year after college working for a grocery distributor, Pine State Trading Company. Eventually, I was back at Verc Enterprises as a marketing assistant and working my way up to category manager.
DataMax: What is your favorite aspect of your job and/or working in the convenience store industry?
CV: My favorite part of working in the convenience store industry is keeping up with the trends and trying the new items. The market is always changing and it's exciting to talk to vendors to see what new items are coming out. It's a fast-paced business and it's always changing. My job is to always have the newest items on the shelf and to get rid of the ones that aren't selling. It's about trying to stay ahead of market and knowing what to sell, and what not to sell. The best part is, I get to work with candy and snack vendors, so I get to try all their new products first!
DataMax: How is marketing for a cstore different than marketing for other types of retail outlets?
CV: I think the cstore shopper is very different than shoppers in other retail outlets. Most people stop at the gas station that is most convenient for them, so there isn't much loyalty. Plus, most people who buy gas don't even walk into the convenience store. Marketing for a cstore is all about running promotions and working with vendors. We don't advertise outside of our convenience store because, again, the consumer shops where it is most convenient. We focus our attention on running promotions and making our signage visible to those driving by or those pumping gas.
DataMax: What advice do you have for other women who want to find success in any largely male industry?
CV: I think it gets easier the more you work in the industry. I never saw myself as a "woman in a largely male industry", I just always saw myself as an equal. Now that I've been with the company for 4 years, I've proven myself as an equal in this industry. Business is business, and as long as you get your work done, there should be no problems. The marketing team at Verc is made-up of 4 women, and I believe we do much better than any 4 men could do!
DataMax: What keeps you motivated?
CV: It's easy to stay motivated when things are constantly changing. To keep up with market demand, you have to keep your stores clean, organized, and fresh. That might mean there are some days spending time more in the stores than others, so no week is ever the same for me. I go where I'm needed, and that keeps me on my toes.
DataMax: Do you predict any big trends in c-store industry in the future?
CV: Predicting trends can be very difficult, but one trend that has been doing well most everywhere is e-cigs and vaporizers. I see this trend sticking around for awhile.
A big thanks to Courtney for the insight on the convenience store industry and for proving that women can find success in any industry they wish. Stay tuned for more blog posts about Women in Convenience! We have lots of great gals up our sleeve...