Retailers are now challenged with finding new solutions to re-capture their in-store profits after the steady decline of cigarette sales and in-store traffic leads from pump sales. Many C-store operators are now turning to creative offerings such as fresh food items to generate sales and profit dollars. But they are finding that selling food items brings on a whole new set of challenges. Some you may not have considered! Have you thought about what the condition of your location says about the quality of the food items you are offering to your customers?
Consider This: If you walked into a restaurant and it was dirty or had a bad odor, would you feel comfortable eating the food there? No way! Your customers hold your station 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 number one reason customers choose to visit a c-store (M/A/R/C 2009)”.
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.
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?
- Are my concrete pads dirty, stained and littered with trash?
- Does my equipment have vandalism and/or graffiti problems?
- Do my squeegee buckets smell like $#%!?
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.
A dispenser shown dirty (before) and cleaned (after) using OTIS WIPES