One of the filthiest surfaces that people touch on a regular basis are gas pump handles. This, along with a dirty fueling area outside, creates a visual representation to the customer of the care and quality they might find on the inside of a retail establishment. First impressions are the handshake that welcomes the consumer and encourages them to come inside to spend more. And for many, their customer's only handshake is with their gas-pump nozzles. What kind of handshake do customers have with your brand?
Consider This: If you walked into a restaurant and it was dirty with stains on the floor and a bad odor, would you feel comfortable eating the food there? No way! Your customers will hold your c-store to these same standards. If your gas pumps and forecourt are dirty, chances are they will NEVER purchase a fresh food item from your store, let alone come inside. Research shows that after street price, “cleanliness is the #1 reason customers choose to visit a c-store (M/A/R/C 2009)”. An article by Frank Beard is an example of why the customer experience is an essential component of the perfect pit stop.
"Nearly 40 million Americans fill up their vehicles every day, but less than half reported going into the store during their last purchase."
From Your Customer’s Point of View: Customers now expect a traditional retail experience at convenience stores and are holding you to that standard. If you don’t meet that standard, they will find a location that does, and will most likely tell their friends about it too. When was the last time you took a look at your location from the customer’s point of view?
From the Fuel Island to Store: Did you know that that on average, 71% of a store’s total sales are motor fuels, yet motor fuels only account for 36% of profit dollars (NACS Magazine, March 2014 – “The Future of Fuels”)? For most retailers, converting a fuel purchaser to an in-store customer is on top of their priority list because it is evident that motor fuels drive sales dollars, while in-store sales drive profit dollars. Your first impression to meeting the standards for ensuring a great customer experience is not easy, but starting somewhere will get you on a track to success. We recommend focusing on the first thing your customers will interact with at your store. Most likely this means focusing on the image of your fueling area and equipment. You might want to ask yourself “What does my fueling area say about my in-store offerings?”
- Are my nozzles dirty?
- Do my customers tend to use a paper towel to pump their fuel?
- Does my garbage leak and stain the surfaces?
- Are my concrete pads dirty, stained and littered with trash?
- Is my parking stall stained and creating potholes?
- Does my equipment have vandalism and/or graffiti problems?
- Do my squeegee buckets smell like $#%!?
- Is there gum and other food littering a customer’s walking pathway?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might be losing valuable in-side sales opportunities and, more importantly, profit dollars. Take action today and don’t let your dirty dispensers take a bite out of your profits.