That formula for success has been repeated multiple times as Diaz Market has grown from that original location outside New Orleans into a chain of 18 gas stations and convenience stores throughout Louisiana. As general manager, Eastlack helps her parents as they continue to apply the same principles of customer service to its existing locations and future endeavors. And although the company’s dedication to customer service is old-fashioned, Diaz Market also embraces the future by adapting to the latest trends to meet its customers’ needs. Eastlack says Diaz Market is always on the lookout for new ways to satisfy its customers, and that dedication to service is the key ingredient to the company’s continued success.
The guiding principle behind Diaz Market is the same today as it was when Eastlack’s parents operated only one location. “Some of the key things that make it successful are our customer service and our dedication to the business,” Eastlack says, adding that her father remains actively involved in the company’s day-to-day business, visiting every store at least once a day, every day. “We’re all very dedicated and we have an awesome team that’s dedicated to our customers.”
Listening to the customer is a major component of Diaz Market’s strategy, and it has led to a continuous reinvention of its locations. “We are actually working on our third evolution of our station prototype, and our newest station is something we’re very proud of,” Eastlack says.
The newest concept for Diaz Market includes partnering with local New Orleans coffee chain P.J.’s Coffee to provide premium coffee inside the stores and through drive-thru windows. This was inspired by requests from customers with young children who did not want to take their children out of their car seats to run inside for coffee. Eastlack says the addition of P.J.’s Coffee to Diaz Market’s stores was the result of listening to customers’ requests for premium coffee options and greater convenience.
The new Diaz Market concept also includes a revolutionary new idea for the company and for convenience stores in general. Eastlack says a build-your-own-burrito bar will give customers the opportunity to choose their own burrito fillings as an alternative to pre-made, frozen burritos typically found at convenience stores.
Offering customers a multitude of options and alternatives to the typical convenience store fare is another top priority for Diaz Market. Eastlack says the company has been one of the leading convenience store operators when it comes to providing customers with healthier grab-and-go options. She says the company’s stores feature open-air coolers near the registers that are stocked with fresh, healthy options. As a mother, Eastlack says, she understands the need to offer more than just candy or chips for customers on the move. “They’re very convenient for the customer,” she says.
Eastlack says the look of Diaz Market’s stores is a more subtle but important aspect of the company’s success. She says the company has developed a very recognizable look for its stores that make customers feel welcome and help them identify a Diaz Market location by sight. In some cases, the company has completely refitted stores dating back to the 1950s with the distinct Diaz Market look.
The Road Ahead
One of the biggest issues facing the convenience store industry is dealing with increasing credit card fees and diminishing fuel margins, and Eastlack says Diaz Market has been involved with lobbying groups to take the industry’s message to the government. She adds that one of the specific issues the industry has is that rises in gas prices tend to go to the credit card companies rather than the service station operators who have to find ways to attract customers despite those price increases.
Nevertheless, Diaz Market has high hopes for the future, and Eastlack says the success the company has had in the past is the primary reason for its optimism. She says the company plans to continue adding new locations throughout Louisiana, and it will continue to look for ways to improve its locations. “Every time we build or acquire a new store, we tweak our look and offerings to make it better for the next one, so we’re excited about that,” she says.