How can cleanliness help to drive more revenue from your gas station?
It’s more than just the price of gas.
Price is often the number one focus for gas station owners. Having competitively low gas prices will attract customers to your forecourt, but if you aren’t providing those customers with a reason to come inside the store to purchase higher margin items — you may be giving away fuel margin to no avail.
This is the first in a series of blogs created to help gas station owners focus on more than just price to optimize their revenue.
A clean and safe environment is more important than ever
“Cleanliness is next to godliness”, as the old saying goes, and while we can’t verify the truth in that, we can confirm that the cleanliness of your forecourt and store have a big impact on your customers’ experience — and their likelihood to revisit.
Clean stores, forecourts, and services provide a pleasant and inviting atmosphere for customers — while dirty facilities can put people off returning to your store. This has long been the case, but now, in the wake of COVID-19, cleanliness is more important than ever.
COVID has impacted every part of our lives and its effects may leave a lasting impression on customer psyche. It’s likely that this won’t be a passing phase. While the release of vaccines across the world indicates that the virus could soon be under control — the worry and anxiety that COVID-19 has created in consumers may linger for a while longer.
With multiple messages from the US Government informing the public to “be a germ buster” and that “clean hands save lives”, hygiene and cleanliness are now intrinsically linked to safety.
A GasBuddy survey from April 2020 — completed during the first wave of the global pandemic — asked participants to rate the most important aspects of visiting a convenience store. Cleanliness inside the store, restroom cleanliness, and cleanliness at pumps appeared in three of the top five results, proving that clean facilities matter now more than ever before.
Israel Anguita, Head of Pricing at Galp Energia, took part in a client panel discussion and spoke to us about Galp’s approach to operating throughout the pandemic:
“We’re focused on hygiene management. Staff wear masks and gloves, and hand gel is always available. We have clear signage to help people understand the management of COVID-19 in our stores and what they can expect from their shopping experience. Our main goal is to make customers feel safe in our sites. If we don’t manage to do that, they won’t want to enter our stores.”
If you can’t entice people inside your stores, you’ll miss opportunities to sell your higher margin goods. Consumers don’t want to spend time in unclean stores, so their browsing time, and spending potential will rapidly reduce if your cleanliness isn’t up to scratch.
Food service requires higher standards of cleanliness
Gas stations with quick service restaurants (QSRs) should be meeting strict hygiene rules, but even without a QSR, most gas stations sell food or snacks in one form or other.
When it comes to food, customer expectations around cleanliness and hygiene increase. Dirty floors, grubby shelving, and broken lighting don’t lend themselves to displaying good quality produce. If you’re selling food, fresh or otherwise, you need to make sure your entire store is clean and well presented, or your sales and margins will suffer. No one wants to buy food from an unclean environment.
First impressions count
A clean store is a necessary requirement for many consumers — but if the outside of your gas station isn’t up to standard, they may never make it inside.
The external appearance of your store needs to be not only clean, but bright and inviting. Sufficient lighting makes the site look safe and a well-maintained forecourt will entice passersby to choose your gas station over your local rivals.
Keeping your forecourt clean, regularly touching up painted areas, and ensuring your signage is clear can lift the appearance and attractiveness of your site — encouraging more customers through your doors.
Once inside, a pleasant smell, sparkling floors, dust free shelves, and well-presented staff will improve the customers’ assessment of your store and their experience of shopping with you.
Actions you can take right now:
Keeping your site clean shouldn’t be a mammoth task. But for those that have never focused on site cleanliness, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Here are some actions you can take today:
- Assess your forecourt and backcourt lighting — does the site and store look safe and inviting? Consider adding additional lighting to brighten any dark areas
- Touch up any painted curbs or parking lines
- Remove any obstructions from your forecourt signage
- Remove window signs that block the view from the forecourt to the store — you want customers to see that your store is clean, bright, and inviting before they come inside
- Create a schedule for regularly cleaning pumps and hoses, emptying trash cans and cleaning up the forecourt
- Create a schedule for regularly cleaning restrooms — the condition of public restrooms has a huge impact on the way people perceive your store
- Remove out-of-date products, ensure they are face frontwards on the shelves, and clean your shelving regularly
- Provide staff uniforms or create a smart dress code for your employees
Keep in mind that these cleaning tasks don’t need to take place outside of operating hours. If customers see your staff cleaning it will only reinforce the perception of cleanliness for them.
For the past 40+ years, Kalibrate has helped gas station and convenience store owners to maximize their profit potential. If you’re planning to open a new site, or make changes to an existing site, Kalibrate’s Single Site Analysis will give you:
- Multiple detailed projection analyses
- Local area demographics
- Market share analysis
- Competitor outlet analysis
- Local area site fuel volumes
- Convenience store, quick service restaurants, and car wash sales opportunities
- Benchmarking against all 7 Elements for Fuel and Convenience Retail Success
This will help you understand how to make the most of your site potential
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