There are literally thousands of convenience stores in the Delaware Valley in this day in age. However, only one company stands out as a leader among all of the others. Wawa Food Markets, Inc. , established in 1964 has been the leader for over twenty years. I have been employed with the company since May 1994, and I hope to continue to grow within the company in the years to come. During the fall semester of 1999, I have participated in the Supervised Internship at Rowan University, my company of choice being Wawa, of course.
While the experience has not been everything it was promised to be, I have been able to gain an incredible amount of knowledge in the field of marketing, in a short period of time, simply by working in my store. Hopefully, my interest in the company this semester, and really also in the past six years too will show the upper management that I am willing to stay employed with theompany in the years to come!
On the scale of company sizes in this country, Wawa falls somewhere in the middle, maintaining leadership in the convenience store industry in the Delaware Valley, while at the same time providing the employees with small-company personal communication. The company hopes to maintain this relationship with the employees in the future, even though the recent strike hurt the morale among the delivery personnel. The organizational structure begins with the president, Richard Wood. There are six vice-presidents in the company, each serving an important function.
The segments of the company are broken down to the following levels, with the vice-president for each level controlling it: Law & Human Resources, Marketing, Store Operations, Real Estate, Finance, and Distribution. As you can see, the real estate segment is heavily weighted in the corporate structure. The reasoning behind this strategy is that the company is expanding at the rate of three to four stores per month. Devoting resources to real estate includes the locating, purchasing, developing, and operating the new store until sufficient management can be established.
I have witnessed two new examples of this strategy this semester. I have observed the demolition process of a store, and the construction of three stores, and the renovation of one! These experiences have taught me the process template that Wawa uses to build every one of its new stores. With such stress being focused in this area, you can imagine that the employees involved in the new construction process know exactly how to open a store, from the purchase of the land, to the grand opening day!
The other segments of the company mentioned follow the same format as most companies of today. garding the history of the company, Wawa Food Markets has been an extremely successful company, serving the convenience needs of the greater Delaware Valley with pride since 1964. Through the strong respect from customers, Wawa has achieved a dramatic increase in sales in the past five years. With the introduction of new “superstores”, the future looks extremely bright for the company. Wawa’s branding strategy of its own products has achieved national recognition.
From the dairy products that it has manufactured since the early 1900’s, to the new Wawa Bakery, which is destined to be a phenomenal success in the years to come because of its versatility in creating exciting new products, Wawa is planning on leaving the twentieth century with a bang! The following is a short history of how the company has become as successful as it is today. Wawa, Inc. did not begin as a food business, as many people may believe. Instead, the company began operations in the textile industry as early as 1803.
By 1865, the company, dubbed as The Millville Manufacturing Company, was incorporated and was operating mills quite successfully in several states, with sales offices throughout the country, but headquarters always remaining in Millville, New Jersey. In 1902, George Wood, who was the owner of Millville, New Jersey, which was a bustling town thanks to his family-owned textile business, opened a small milk plant in Wawa, Pennsylvania, which specialized in processing, and the home delivery of “certified” milk.
Since pasteurization had not yet been discovered, consumers relied heavily on the quality of Wawa’s milk for years. The Wood family summer home, called Red Roof, became the office center for the dairy farm. As the textile industry began to fade in the 1950’s, the Wood family considered enlarging the small dairy business to serve a larger area, covering the Philadelphia metropolis. Their dairy business began to thrive, just as the textile industry collapsed due to lower prices for labor overseas.
The original mill remains in Millville today, however, and is currently occupied by Wheaton Plastics, Inc. In 1998, Wawa manufactured more than 92 million quarts of their own dairy products, juices, and teas. Customer service is the pillar, which keeps Wawa standing tall as the leading convenience store company in the greater Delaware Valley. While there are many factors which go into the way that Wawa addresses the issue of customer service, there are four that have stood out since the opening of the first store in the 1960’s.
Greeting, understanding, directing, and retaining are the four key factors that go into the customer interaction model, which is learned during the training of every new associate in the company. Since delighting the customer is such an important part of Wawa’s success, the company has worked to a great extent in creating a product line that is extremely effective in today’s volatile marketplace. The Wawa label has been synonymous to people in the Delaware Valley for years in the dairy industry. Wawa also sells its own brand of delicious coffee, of which over 100 million cups were sold in 1998.
Also, Wawa built over 24 million hoagies in 1998. Realizing this pattern, the marketing department in the past five years, has recognized this occurrence of brand loyalty by introducing several new products into the stores with the Wawa brand name attached to them. These products are breakfast “Sizzli” sandwiches, WawaBoli, and most recently Wawa Bakery. The introduction of these products has proven to be extremely successful, since consumers have developed a brand loyalty to Wawa’s high quality products. In the more recent months, the company has been suffering from the results of two key problems.
First, the strike in October 1999 forced the company to a screeching halt, adversely affecting sales in every store. While an agreement was reached in less than three weeks, the effects are still being felt. Sales have still not bounced back to what they were, and plans to build a new headquarters are on hold. Second, there has been tremendous public scrutiny of an advertising promotion for cigarettes in the Delaware valley. This promotion does not include a surgeon generals warning on the advertisement, and it has been questioned if advertising for cigarettes through a convenience store is even legal.
This problem, along with the recent strike is nearly enough to change customers’ minds when they decide to make a purchase. In the future, the company will have to not make any mistakes with advertising, and should steer clear of any type of controversial advertising. In the years to come, Wawa’s history of excellence and innovation will continue to be a major part of the Delaware valley, and quite possibly, the entire country!! There are hundreds of pages of policies that all employees have access to on the computer in every store and regional office.
While some companies hide this information from the employees, Wawa encourages all employees to review the information at their leisure. Some examples of what is in the corporate policy would be information regarding political contributions, employment procedures (hiring and termination), changing from part time to full time employment, retirement, and policy regarding the emigration law. It was especially interesting to find that I was entitled to 15 vacation days since changing to full time in July.
Since I have been with Wawa for nearly seven years, I had accumulated the extra vacation days that are only good if you change to full time. I was able to find this information while viewing some of the policy during my internship. The corporate policies of Wawa ensure that regardless of what the situation may be, there are rules that govern which process is necessary to take action. The corporate headquarters is very strict concerning the rules of the company, and enforcement is always carried out, no matter who the person in question may be.
My job title at Wawa has been Customer Service Leader since July 1999. I was promoted at my request after carefully planning my senior year at Rowan. I realized that I would be able to handle 36 hours per week and have plenty of time for class also. This is because I have no social life. I feel that there will be plenty of time for that in the future! Basically, I run the store when the manager is not present from Thursday to Sunday every week. I perform cash functions, delegate all responsibilities to my co-workers, and myself and most important of all, wait on customers!!
During the semester, I have participated in advertising in the Millville stores, and when necessary, I have created signs for hurricanes and other adverse weather in our area. In short, I really enjoy my job, and I look forward to the opening of a new superstore down the street from our present location. This will all take place in July 2000, and I am hoping to be a manager in training at the new store, having finished college. If everything goes as planned, I will have a career full of excitement, and chances to be promoted.
Primarily during my internship, I saw countless marketing concepts at work that I have learned in the past, in a real company setting. However, I will focus on the use of the “four p’s”, relationship marketing, total quality management, and brand loyalty. For price, I have been exposed to the process of changing the prices on the different items that we sell. During the strike, I saw the prices of many items skyrocket, while others fell. The products that Wawa offers all have one thing in common, they are essential items necessary to run a household, or a spontaneous item that someone wishes to have.
New products introduced usually fit these criteria. Promotion is a key element in the company. Unfortunately, the company has focused a lot of attention to the promotion of Marlboro cigarettes, which may adversely affect other sales of merchandise negatively. While the company is attracting smokers, the ads have been detracting the non-smokers. Some non-smoking customers have dubbed Wawa a “cigarette-friendly” company. This semester has been an interesting one when it comes to place.
The delivery of all Wawa products and supplies was halted due to the strike. This created a distribution crisis, because the delivery system that has worked so well was now out of commission for three weeks. Outside contractors had to be brought in to deliver the goods to the stores. It would have been a lot easier to simply settle with the drivers instead of start a nasty battle that created bad press, and angry drivers. Regarding relationship marketing, Wawa operates its stores on the principle that the customer will return, time and time again.
Therefore, in order to provide this high level of quality, Wawa strives to ensure that every customer is treated with the utmost of respect at all times, regardless of how indignant they may be. The most essential part of relationship marketing that Wawa engages in is customer service. All associates are trained to be polite, whatever the situation is. Being quick, while also being friendly is a difficult thing to do, but once the balance between the two has been achieved, the customers really appreciate it. Also, ordering properly is obviously important.
If a store is out of stock on items, this leads to a disgruntled customer. Total quality management is constantly used with many products. One example would be the WawasBoli program. The product has been changed three times since introduction. The changes have been made due to customer feedback through the use of surveys. Wawa is constantly receiving feedback from customers on every product that it produces. With the assurance of quality, the company has thrived with its own product line, ranging from milk products to breakfast sandwiches. Coupled along with TQM, brand loyalty is very important to the company.
Through the constant innovation of its products, Wawa hopes to create a brand loyalty with the customers. This is extremely important to Wawa, unlike an electronics store or department store, which carries several brands. Wawa needs to constantly monitor the marketplace, to seek out the strongest performing products that people will buy. Since the store is small, we only carry one brand of everything we sell, so it is important that we sell the most popular brand of dry dog food, aluminum foil, toothpaste, etc… Selling popular products is something that sets Wawa apart from its competitors.