SAVANNAH, Ga. – Greg Parker, president and CEO of The Parker Cos., served as the keynote speaker at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Awards Luncheon on May 21 at the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort.
During his speech, Parker discussed his experience leading the soon-to-be 35-store Parker's convenience chain and highlighted seven business themes his company embraces:
- Create a Dashboard for Success. "We believe that success doesn't just happen," Parker said, noting that his company worships data. "When you make success measureable, you make it achievable."
- Pay Attention to the Female Customer. In most direct consumer businesses, the female customer is the primary decision maker in the family, especially when it comes to time and discretionary dollars. "I believe if you create retail environments that please women, you get everyone else in the process."
- Cultivate Loyalty. "I truly believe one of the keys to our success at Parker's is our emphasis on loyalty," Parker said. The retailer reinforces this through its signature PumpPal Club, a debit card that passes fuel savings of up to 10 cents per gallon back to the consumer by eliminating credit card processing fees.
- Create an Effective Brand Image. It is important to understand a company's identity, what makes it unique and offer one master look. A brand is a promise to customers.
- Embrace Technology. It is a critical tool to maximize sales and create a sense of community around the company's brands. "You can even use technology today to make sure that you're on track as a leader or business executive," Parker said, recommending online tools such as Lift, People Matter, Gallup's Strengths Finder and the latest in app technology.
- Give Back as a Core Belief. Parker's donates thousands of dollars to local public and private schools, and recently donated $1 million to support the Memorial Hospital Emergency & Trauma Unit. "I believe customers have a choice, and they want to support companies that give back."
- Develop Your Team. Parker's has a core leadership staff that has worked with the chief executive for decades, but recent rapid growth has added a number of new directors onto the senior management team.
Parker concluded by discussing working together and he encouraged the Hilton Head-Bluffton area and Savannah to think of themselves as one region. "I believe we will all be stronger if we work together and think about cooperation vs. competition," he said. "I encourage you to think big."
He also noted the lack of political clout of the region and encouraged local officials and the business community to work toward municipal and county governments that are more "customer friendly, more efficient and more responsive to both the businesses located here today, and those who are considering expanding into the Lowcountry. Together we can do so much more."
Parker's currently operates 34 convenience stores throughout southeast Georgia and South Carolina.