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ATLANTA -- In a rousing opening general session filled to capacity with more than 3,000 show attendees, NACS Chairman Jay Ricker of Ricker Oil and NACS President and CEO Hank Armour talked about how the industry navigated important issues such as the BP oil spill and credit card transaction fees.
Ricker compared this year's BP disaster with the Exxon Valdez incident years ago, pointing out that some retailers saw their fuel sales drop 60 percent due to consumer backlash then. In contrast, sales at Ricker's BP stations fell only a few percentage points despite all the bad publicity, rumors and misinformation generated by an increasingly fragmented media. "Why?" he asked. "The one word answer is 'engagement.'"
The retailer commended NACS for "changing the national conversation about our industry" and for successfully communicating "our side of the story on key fueling issues."
Ricker also talked about the importance of engaging customers. He visited five stores where sales had plummeted the most. He went to the stores dressed as a clown and gave out free items. But more important, he said, were the one-to-one conversations he had with consumers about the BP spill. "We created a connection that went far beyond that day," he noted.
Armour picked up on Ricker's engagement theme, noting how the engagement of NACS' members helped achieve victory in a nearly 10-year battle against Visa, MasterCard and the card-issuing banks for debit card transaction fee reform.
"Purpose, perseverance and people" were the key factors in making a difference, he said.
However, Armour noted, the war isn't over. NACS will be vigilant to ensure that the new transaction standards issued by the Federal Reserve result in a significant reduction in fees, he said, adding, "But the banks will fight us every step of the way."
Go to www.csnewsattheshow.com for more up-to-the-minute coverage of the 2010 NACS Show.