When you are running a convenience store, it pretty much pays for itself, right? Well not exactly. A 2009 report showed that an average convenience store only nets around a 6% profit margin. While that figure might be roughly you see in restaurants, it does not make for an innovative environment, albeit a competitive one. Whether you have the room to improve your current convenience store or you are about to open one, here are five tips to make sure your corner store stands out from the rest.

By the way, the following tips are only most most effective if you are operating an independent convenience store operation. If you are a franchisee or if you are running a store on a corporate brand label, you should consult your corporate office first before making your own decisions.

Update the look-and-feel of your store

Whether you’re at just the corner off a busy intersection, or if you are in a middle of a relatively empty highway where the next gas station isn’t for tens or even hundreds of miles, you need to make sure your gas station is presentable in a contemporary sense. This could mean anything from premium materials such as solid surface counters or wood-tone veneers. Don’t think you are alienating your audience, however. Very rarely will convenience stores cater for a specific audience, in those cases most likely teamsters (which includes truckers), commercial transportation drivers, and even fleet management specialists.

When in doubt, opt for a beer cave walk-in to better market your beer selections or even a soft serve machine for some quick and easy ice cream.

Invest on LED lighting and more

There’s two benefits as to why LED lighting pays off. First, LED lighting, generally, needs significantly less power compared to a regular incandescent lights (think 40 watts versus 6 watts, for example). Second, it LED lighting produces less heat. This means less reasons to turn on your AC, and less reasons why your power bill is higher than it should be. Not only that, it is a rapidly growing industry as well.

Turn down foot traffic down to a minimum

If you are a convenience store, then it is paramount that you make sure your customers are in-and-out as much as possible. Nothing kills your sales more than a customer who has a hard time deciding whether they want just a hot dog or they want the full meal.

This could mean featuring food first, or positioning the cash registers closest to the entrance for easier entry and exit for your customers. If you especially work hard towards a short customer turnover, that can be the difference between someone coming to your convenience store for a quick grab-and-go lunch or not.

Make your food exciting

This is for the convenience stores that cook their own food. If you do, then you have a significant marketing opportunity to make yourself stand out–make your food count. Really market your menu offerings so you can essentially provide a one-stop-shop experience for your customers. Imagine your customers picking up dinner AND getting the groceries they need. That’s almost short of a full supermarket right there.

Modernize the complete experience

Believe-it-or-not, some Frogs noticed that there’s still gas stations where it’s cash-only or doesn’t accept swipe. That not only limits your payment options, but this also can limit your store’s marketing potential. You gotta remember, roughly over 70% of consumers in the nation have a card with a chip but only about 37% of stores have the chip total. This means at least for now, it’s the difference of winning the store over or not.