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  • Beauty or the Beast?

    In the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, characters are judged by their outward appearance. The Beast has a heart of gold, but the villagers aren’t willing to get to know him because of his hideous exterior.

    The same can be said of how customers interact with your c-store. If the exterior of your store is dirty and poorly maintained, customers will likely choose to shop at a competitor store with a clean exterior. It’s all about first impressions.

    Your fuel islands are the first thing your customers see when they enter the parking lot. This is where they begin to evaluate your brand. You can serve the best food and drinks inside your store, but customers won’t want to come in if the forecourt is grimy and dirty

    1. Concrete and Asphalt

    Your exterior concrete is the first thing customers touch when they step out of their car. Nobody wants to step on dirty or oil stained concrete or asphalt. This is indicative of poor maintenance and poses a potential safety hazard.

    1. Fuel Dispensers

    This is where customers begin to shake your hand and identify with your brand. If your dispensers are dirty with oil stains, grime and germs, your customers’ experience drops significantly.

    1. Trash Receptacles

    Trash bins sit right next to your customers as they pump their gas. If they are over flowing with garbage, and emanating strong odors, this might deter your fuel customers from venturing inside your store.

    1. Squeegee Buckets

    We take for granted that squeegee buckets are a low maintenance feature of the gas station. However, if not regularly maintained, they can quickly grow bacteria and produce a strong odor. Customers don’t want to use dirty, smelly squeegees on their vehicles.

    1. Bathrooms

    Customers often plan to use the bathroom after they gas up. They will equate the cleanliness of your bathrooms with the cleanliness of your entire business. Dirty bathrooms can drive customers away from shopping inside your store — especially if they are interested in purchasing prepared foods. Customers want to feel assured that their food is prepared with clean hands on clean food prep surfaces. A dirty bathroom creates the perception of dirty surfaces throughout the store.

    Takeaway

    Maintaining c-store forecourts is a lot more involved than simply emptying the trash and wiping down surfaces. Identifying the proper products and tools to clean your forecourts is just the first piece of the puzzle. A successful cleaning program also requires proper training, employee engagement, and a plan to monitor and manage results. A clean store will improve the customer experience, create brand loyalty and increase your profits…Clean Stores Sell More!

    In order for you to meet the demands of the customer experience and to improve your sales, you must find real solutions to these real challenges listed above.

    A CAF representative is available to help you increase your customer experience. Contact us today!

  • Site Audit and Inspection Helpful Tip

    In retail the ultimate goal is to SELL MORE! These days, consumer habits and expectations change rapidly. To meet increasing sales goals, you must adapt quickly to the changing landscape. Sometimes you have all the right plans and strategy in place, but the sales don’t follow. Why? Poor execution.

    So, what can you do? Many of the largest and most successful retailers in the world conduct store audits. Audits cover a wide range of topics, including: eliminating waste and overspending, increasing operational efficiencies, and ensuring every detail of the customer experience is consistently taken care of.

    Audits are important for keeping management in-the-know on what is happening at the store level. They are also important for holding employees accountable to the company standard. However, if they aren’t used to implement impactful changes they are no more useful than busy work.

    You can organize your audits into categories and then prioritize them to help employees consistently execute changes throughout your retail store. This will also help you target any non-compliancy issues to avoid fines, de-branding of your business and possibly loss of employment.

    Below we have addressed the most common non-compliancy issues in the industry by priority:

    Urgent – Needs your immediate attention!

    These are issues pertaining to major problems such as safety, cleanliness, accurate pricing, restrooms, working dispensers, lighting, and properly functioning equipment. These are the ones that must be placed as a priority to prevent further actions being implemented towards the store.

    Somewhat Urgent – Needs attention but there is time to remedy

    These issues are related to out of the ordinary or non-routine problems. Some of these findings are geared towards ‘what if’ scenarios like landscaping, courteous staff, credit card acceptor providing receipts, and overall appearance of both the interior and exterior of the store.

    Moderate – Minor Issues that are overlooked

    These areas include not documenting current processes, employees not trained on new best practices, failing to display legal documents such as OSHA or licenses, understocked shelves and inaccurate inventory counts.

    Awareness Required – Just need to be known and corrected

    These are things like simple errors in grammar and spelling, incorrect dates/times, chipped paint, improper signage, etc. This is just information that management should be aware of but doesn’t really pertain to the scope of the audit

    In today’s competitive retail environment auditing programs are in place to enhance and enforce what resonates most with your customers. Maximizing customer experience both in the store and at the pumps creates customer loyalty at your locations.

    Clean Stores Sell More!

  • Last Best Customer Experience

    customer-experience-graphic-headerIn the past, customer experience expectations were set by a customer’s next best choice, namely the experience provided by a competitor not too far down the road.

    However, with the evolution of online reviews and the new emphasis food service, today’s customer expectations have skyrocketed. It’s a game changer. Your old competition is no longer the benchmark. Now, you compete with the best, recent retail experience anywhere and from any industry. How do you stack up against your recent retail experiences?

    New industry leaders like Amazon, Uber and others have conditioned your customers to expect more in return, and in some part, more than maybe you are willing to deliver. Take for instance some of the following principles from Marriott Hotels founder, J. Willard Marriott:

    • “It’s the little things that make big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”
    • “Take care of your people and they will take care of your customers.”
    • “Great companies are built by people who never stop thinking about ways to improve the business.”

    These guiding principles continue to permeate Marriott’s company culture. They expect each employee to take a customer-centric focus (from housekeepers on up to management) who take pride in responding to customer social media complaints in real-time. Upholding company core values has seemed to pay off for this customer experience champion!

    Customers expect experiences that serves their needs first. Experiences that promote giving first before they take. They expect that you provide the necessities of meeting their goals and desires with the least amount of friction possible. Customers do not want to navigate through a labyrinth maze of loyalty programs, cheap fuel incentives or processes that serve operational excellence vs. customer excellence.

    We recommend looking outside your industry. Look for the highest end of the hospitality industry. In other words, look for your customers’ last best experience, not their best alternative. It’s your customers’ last best experience that will help inform you of what they expect from your company.

    At CAF, we have found that most c-store operators simply aren't aware of the solutions to meet customer expectations. That is why it is necessary to have a partner that can help provide you the tools needed to help navigate customer experience challenges concerning a cleaner store.

    Ask yourself how you can effectively increase customer experience and brand loyalty. Ask yourself how you can be your customers’ last best experience. Ask yourself how you can be the best in your industry.

    1. Is my customer service and engagement a high priority?

    2. Does my store promote exterior/interior cleanliness (these can include bathrooms, forecourts and food areas)?

    3. Am I taking advantage of using mystery shopping to receive feedback and provide brand value?

    4. Do I need a cleaning program aimed at reducing employee absences and health concerns?

    5. How do I become my customers’ last best experience?

    6. How do I make a positive difference in my industry with standards that are highly favored and sought after?

    In order for you to meet the demands of the customer experience and to improve your sales, you must find real solutions to these real challenges listed above.

    A CAF representative is available to help you increase your customer experience. Contact us today!

  • Stop Delighting Your Customers!

    Perhaps in direct contrast to a growing movement in the industry towards delighting customers, it’s time for fuel retailers to wake up and STOP wasting money on simply delighting their customers.  Fuel retailers are constantly looking for that “next-thing” to help them stand out from the competition, but too commonly are focusing on attributes that only delight their customers and not the things that differentiate them from the competition.

    In a survey of c-store customers, Boston Consulting Group (source: BCG 2013 convenience store survey; BCG analysis), compared customers’ stated importance of various customer satisfaction attributes against customers’ derived importance from their actual buying behavior.  By contrasting these two responses, BCG was able to separate customer experience attributes into two basic categories: delighters and differentiators.  Delighters are the attributes customers claim are important to them in survey responses, but provide little impact to their actual buying behavior.  Conversely, differentiators are the attributes that align both with what customers say are important to them and influence their purchasing.

    To highlight, BCG asked consumers about more than 30 attributes that affect their purchasing decisions and about their satisfaction regarding more than 35 top c-store brands. Then used customer wallet share as a proxy for overall performance, they found that c-store brands that outperform on differentiating attributes also capture a higher share of wallet. BCG research indicates that those with the highest score on differentiators capture 33% percent share of wallet, whereas the share of those with the lowest capture only 18% by comparison.

     

    stated_derived-chart

    They are attributes that consumers directly indicate are important and that measurably affect how those consumers think about the brand. For example, consumers top attribute is cleanliness and it’s a differentiating attribute that drives consumer satisfaction and subsequently retailers’ ROI.

    The top 5 Differentiators are:

    1. Cleanliness
    2. Safety
    3. Speed and ease
    4. Friendliness
    5. Fuel price

    Differentiating attributes were found to be highly valued but perceived by consumers as relatively rare—the basis of distinction for c-stores that may translate into better performance and a higher share of wallet.

    Even though it may seem surprising that some of these attributes have not yet become standard staples in the industry. Evidence suggests that these attributes will continue to be determinant in the foreseeable future.

    Many c-store brands are still not consistently meeting the basic consumer demands for the convenience format. It is critical to remember that consumers require brands to deliver those essentials before they give loyalty to c-stores that invest in differentiator attributes.

    Delighters top 3 attributes are:

    1. Quality Fresh Food and Coffee
    2. Low Prices
    3. Loyalty Programs

    In contrast, top delighters are welcomed but not expected by consumers; delighters attributes are a potential future basis of distinction for retailers. For example, some c-stores are stocking good-quality, fresh food—pleasantly surprising many consumers and enabling some retailers to lay the foundations for future competitive advantage. Consumers do not yet consider delighter attributes to be primary reasons for choosing one brand over another.

    Ultimately buyer transaction data tells us these dollars would be better spent on differentiators identified above to more directly influence consumer purchasing behavior.

    Top c-store brands are capturing all customer share by focusing on differentiators that drive consumer behavior. The key to future success in convenience retail hinges on the ability to determine which attributes are or will be sources of differentiation and which only delight customers. Those that build their strategies around the differentiators will secure top leadership, capturing up to twice the share of wallet as those that do not.

    Convenience brands should always be developing new areas of differentiation to stay ahead of consumer needs and secure their future basis for competitive advantage. At CAF Environmental Solutions we are poised as a leader in cleaning solutions to provide a key component differentiator in keeping your stores clean. CAF Products are effective, easy to use and save money.  As your cleaning expert, we will help you to improve your store’s appearance and, in turn, increase your bottom line!

  • Prevent Harmful UV Damage and Improve the Appearance of your Dispensers in Minutes!

    Preventing Fuel Loss and Costly Repairs
    Breakaways were designed to prevent fuel loss and costly repairs due to drive offs. When a customer leaves the nozzle in their tank and drives off, the breakaway disconnects and stops fuel from leaking out of the hose. But what happens when there is cracking due to UV damage along the breakaway whip hoses that allow those breakaways to pull apart correctly? You guessed it... fuel loss and costly repairs!

    Recommendation:
    LUXSS® Polish and UV Protectant Wipes are safe, non-aerosol wipes designed for multi-surface polishing and protecting of plastic laminate, painted metal, rubber
    and wood surfaces. LUXSS removes everything from finger prints and smoke film scuffs to dirt and grime. LUXSS leaves behind a non-oily silicone film to shine and protect. Specifically formulate to fight the effects of oxidation and provide protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, effectively prolonging the life of your equipment. LUXSS will help keep your dispensers, hoses, squeegee buckets and garbage cans looking new.

    Cleaning Instructions | Product Information | FAQ | Product Showcase

  • Remove Diesel Drips, Beverage Spills, and Garbage Stains from Concrete in Just 30 Minutes - No Scrubbing!

    How to Remove Diesel Drips, Beverage Spills, and Garbage Stains from Concrete

    Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we all make judgments about an establishment as soon as we arrive. The customer’s experience… Good or Bad, is shaped the moment they begin to interact with their environment…. Something we like to call the customer handshake.

    Customers immediately begin to make assumptions about the restrooms, level of service, and even the quality of food based on these touchpoints. Failure to address those touchpoints could be costing you valuable in-side sales opportunities, and more importantly... profit dollars.

    Stained concrete is among the most prevalent eyesores found at c-stores and retail fuel stations. Here is a simple, no scrub solution for removing diesel drips, beverage spills, garbage stains and more, from concrete in just 30 minutes.

    Recommendation:
    BOOST HD™ Stain Eliminator lifts away diesel drips, beverage spills, and garbage stains from the surface of concrete. The BOOST HD process can be used as a pretreatment for EXIMO waterless concrete cleaner to jumpstart your routine cleaning. The BOOST HD solution removes stain buildup in just 30 minutes - simply apply BOOST HD solution to the work area, place BOOST HD Absorbent Pad, wait 30 minutes, and lift stains away - no scrubbing required!

    BOOST HD is specially designed to attack tough stains, pulling them away from concrete and into the BOOST HD Absorbent Pad.

    Cleaning Instructions | Product Information | FAQ | Product Showcase

  • How to Remove Soda & Other Sugary Stains from Concrete

    We all have probably experienced it before... you need to pump some gas, you step out of your car and.... step right into a sticky puddle of soda, or coffee, or, some other sticky substance.  Then, you walk around the back of your car to get to the pump, and what do you pass on the way?  The station garbage can... it may be empty, or even clean, but the concrete below is often a sticky mess as well.

    This may be the case for many convenience stores and gas stations.  Many customers shake their heads at the mess, but so do most managers who have to try and clean it up.  But with this easy way to get rid of soda stains, you won't have to bear the sight of these sugary sticky messes in your forecourt for very long ever again.

    What You Need:
    2 empty spray bottles, permanent marker, water, OTIS Super Concentrate Cleaner

    Preparation

    • Gather materials.  Using the permanent marker, label one spray bottle "WATER" and the other "OTIS."
    • Fill the bottle marked "WATER"
    • In "OTIS" bottle, mix solution.  Add water, then add 3 scoops of OTIS. Place the sprayer cap back on and mix thoroughly.

    Application

    1- Using the jet stream setting on the "OTIS" spray bottle, apply OTIS liberally to the soda/coffee stained area.

    2- Rinse of the stain area using the "WATER" bottle. You can rinse and let it dry, or you can absorb it with absorbent pads

    3- If not fully removed, apply OTIS again, let sit, and possible scrub with a deck brush.  You can rinse and let it dry, or you can absorb it with absorbent pads.

    4- repeat as necessary.

    Video Tutorial

     

  • How to Protect Equipment from UV Damage

    After taking the time to clean equipment, go the extra mile and make it look even nicer for your customers by polishing it.  Polishing with PROTERO® does more than just shine and impress;

    PROTERO® adds a protective finish and can prevent future stains and damages. This process will remove everything from finger prints, smoke film, scuffs, dirt and grime, and prevent UV ray damage by leaving behind a non-oily, silicone-based film to shine and protect!

    What You Will Need:

    • PROTERO Metal Polish
    • Cleaning cloth (Save in baggy for later applications)

    *For best results, clean surface with OTIS Multi-Surface Cleaner prior to polishing*

    Steps:

    1- Ensure surface area is dry before beginning.

    2- For best results, spray PROTERO® on to a cleaning cloth rather than on the surface itself.

    3- Using cloth, wipe and polish surface until no excess solution remains

    4- Repeat as necessary.

    PROTERO Video

     

     

  • A Smarter Way to Reduce Costs: Lower Operating Expenses

    It’s fair to say that in business you must spend money to make money. It’s also true that creating efficiencies to decrease operating costs will allow you to expand your business activities. We know that the two largest expenses in a c-store are labor and inventory. Reducing either category requires careful planning and consideration of all programs within the store.

    It takes time to build successful programs and implement cost-cutting measures. Are you looking for innovative ideas on how your business can reduce costs and improve its bottom line? Your cleaning program is one area where you can increase productivity and create an environment that is more appealing to your customers.  There are several basic concepts that business owners, and managers, can implement to create a more profitable store. Below are a few recommendations on how to do just that:

    Short Term:

    •  Find alternatives to replace outsourced cleaning services
    •  Look for new innovative solutions to solve longstanding challenges – a better way of doing  things
    •  Implement an efficient and effective cleaning program to reduce labor hours
    •  Switch to high volume, super concentrated cleaning products to decrease cost per use

    Long Term:

    •  Implement a program that is consistent in order to save time
    •  Mitigate risk of environmental impact, fines, & liability
    •  Regular maintenance cleaning = preventative repairs
    •  Use products that are safe, so the equipment lasts longer and is protected under the   warranty
    •  Initiate a safety program

    A clean image and time invested efficiently in a cleaning program will have an ROI.  Increased customer satisfaction = increased spending and more frequent visits.

    For a customized ROI analysis and how we can help with cost-cutting measures for your business please contact us at sales@mycaf.com.

     


    Ready to build a cleaning program, learn how, get resources, and get your stores on the FastTrack!


     

  • Spill Buckets: Reduce Risk and Apply Best Practices

    The lack of proper systems and tools has made cleaning spill buckets a safety hazard.

    Believe it or not, if you were to look, you would find that nearly every fuel center in the U.S., has a spill bucket that is full. Spill buckets require regular inspection and cleaning. They fill up with water, debris, and excess fuel that eventually break down the spill bucket materials - causing contaminants to leak into the surrounding soil. Businesses can be levied with huge fines from government entities if they find spill buckets are in violation of code.

    Surprisingly, most c-stores do not have a system in place to safely clean these spill buckets. Even more surprising are the number of stores that have resorted to using things like Styrofoam cups, turkey basters, toilet paper, napkins, and even baby diapers off the shelf to soak up those liquids. Worse yet are the hazardous conditions employees find themselves in while kneeling on the ground where they are unseen, and all too often hit, by motorists pulling in and out of the fuel station.

    At CAF, we understand the severity of these issues. In working closely with thousands of retail fuel locations around the globe, we've listened to their safety concerns and went to work developing a solution that incorporates best practices for fuel stations looking to ensure the safety and well being of their employees by keeping them clean and off the ground while servicing spill buckets.

     

    Recommendation:

    SUMPUR™ Spill Bucket Cleanout Kit is a comprehensive system designed to safely and quickly remove liquids from spill containment manholes. Each component of the SUMPUR Kit has employee safety in mind. The SUMPUR Pump allows users to stand while pumping, and provides fast, high volume liquid removal – 28 ounces per stroke – saving time and helping employees to see, and be seen, in high  traffic areas. The telescoping SUMPUR Stick keeps employees from having to kneel and reach into a spill bucket, with jaws that grip an absorbent pad and can release without touching the soiled pad. The high visibility SUMPUR Bucket integrates easy cleanout instructions printed clearly on the bucket, and when used with protective clothing and traffic cones, creates a safe, fast, and easy system for your employees.

     

    Product Information:

    Information  |  Cleaning Instructions  |  FAQs  |  Product Showcase

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