Increase gas station sales without a large investment

We ask two of Kalibrate's experts, who have extensive experience in the gas station and convenience store management — "Are there any 'quick wins' that could help fuel retailers to increase their sales ― without needing a large investment?"
Increase gas station sales without a large investment

On June 24, 2021, we held a live Q&A webinar to answer questions from independent gas station owners.  Rianne McBride, Kalibrate’s Sales Executive for Insights, was joined by Alexia Field and Elena Lau.

Alexia has worked in the retail fuels business for over 20 years in various operations roles, retail accounting, and private consulting, where she helped local c-store operators improve their operations and site profitability.

Elena Lau spent her career in the convenience stores industry in various operations and fuel management roles. As an Operational Leader, she was responsible for the overall performance and profitability of 50+ convenience stores. As a Fuel Manager, she oversaw fuel pricing, procurement, environmental compliance, and fuel accounting for 170 plus convenience stores.

During the webinar, they were asked:

“Are there any ‘quick wins’ that could help fuel retailers to increase their sales ― without needing a large investment?”

Here’s their response:

First, let’s talk about how cleanliness and maintaining an overall sharp store image can help you increase sales without a significant investment.

According to GasBuddy’s Consumer Ratings and Foot Traffic Report from April 2020, during quarter 1 2020, stations with above-average cleanliness ratings drove 17.23% more visits than their below-average counterparts.

Your shoppers not only want to see the result of your cleaning efforts but also the process of delivering the feeling of cleanliness. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning was often “hidden” and was done on the overnight shift. But now, you need to shift the deep cleaning to your day shift. Expectations have changed, and now, people want to see you cleaning.

First impressions count

Your forecourt image is the first thing your customers see and gives them an immediate impression of the rest of your store and services. Maintaining your lot and ensuring your pumps are clean does not require a huge investment but can make a big difference to your customers. There are fantastic cleaning products out there that you can use yourself to keep your lots and pumps clean without hiring a professional third-party vendor.

It’s not just cleaning that matters here:

  • What state is your parking lot in?
  • Is it landscaped?
  • Is it an inviting space for passers-by?
  • Is it well-lit and safe?

Know your customers and what they require. Female shoppers are attracted to brighter, well-lit lots, as it enables them to feel safe and comfortable leaving their cars and walking to your stores.

Each of these elements needs consideration — but doesn’t require large investments.

Your parking lot and forecourt are the largest surface area of your store. Done right, they can make a great impression and help convert passers-by to become fuel customers and convert fuel customers to store customers. Make them count.

Entice them inside

Once you have a clean and inviting forecourt to draw customers onto the lot, it’s just as important to follow through with the same focus inside the store.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but one of the things that will drive customers to purchase from you is a clean, impactful bathroom. If a customer comes in to use the restroom and finds it dirty and out of toilet paper and paper towels, they won’t want to buy from you and they’ll want to leave as quickly as they can. However, if you pay the restrooms some attention, ensure they’re always clean and well-stocked, you’ll leave the customer with a great impression of your store. Making them more likely to stop for something to eat, and to come back in the future.

Indoor lighting and good visibility are also really important. Customer perception is greatly improved with good lighting around your store. Enable them to see everything, feel comfortable and welcome in all areas, and they’re more likely to browse and buy more.

De-clutter your windows and reduce signage. Don’t block your windows with big promotional banners, let people see in and show how great your store is to passers-by. Too much merchandising is not inviting and can actually block your customers from seeing or getting to the item that they really want. You need to make sure any promotions and signage are impactful so that they draw the customers to the items you’re trying to promote.

The way you display your stock can also impact customer perception. You want to make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they’re looking for, so always front and face products on the shelves. Regular checking for and removing of stock that has gone out of date can help protect your store image — and for those products that don’t sell quickly but are still in code, make sure you dust them and keep them clean.

All of these things have a big impact on your store image but need very little money. What they do need is good processes and management. Creating a checklist of site activities for you and your team can help to make sure that tasks are completed when they should be.

Good employees are the key to increasing sales

Drawing from experience, both Alexia and Elena suggest that hiring the right people and then training them properly can be the key to running a successful gas station and convenience store.

Watch the full Q&A to hear their advice on creating a repeatable hiring process, engaging employees, and reducing labor costs without cutting your staff.

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