The health, success and longevity of any business is dependent on two major things: First, bringing in new business and second, and perhaps most important, maintaining a loyal customer base. As a former mentor of mine used to say, “It’s much easier to maintain a customer than to gain a customer”. So the question for C-store owners and managers is…“What REALLY drive new and repeat business to MY C-store?”
Convenience Store Decisions recently published an online article about a Market Force Study* that uncovered which convenience stores consumers prefer and why. I will discuss a few of these discoveries in this article along with some photos from one of our most recent C-store designs that I believe demonstrates what the CSD article suggests.
What Consumers Like Most
Many c-store operators would say price is the number one factor driving traffic to a location. However, when consumers were asked to rank c-store chains on their most basic experience and explain why, only 26% said that price was a top priority. Service and cleanliness ranked much higher on the list, with price coming in 7th. The research also showed that a vast majority of c-stores fail when it comes to meeting basic standards of service and cleanliness. Perhaps you find your own store in this majority. No worries! It just means you have a significant opportunity to improve and impact the loyalty of your customers by creating a more service-friendly and clean store.
“Service and cleanliness ranked [high] on the list.”
A Shining Example
The Grove Mart Shell gas station and c-store on Randall Road in Lake in the Hills, IL is a shining example of a store that exemplifies the meaning of cleanliness and service. We purposefully designed the store to be open, with wide aisles and plenty of room around the coffee center island and Grab n Go food island. The owner and staff keep the store impeccably clean and the staff was very service oriented while I was there, working toward a superior customer service experience for me. (See the complete Grove Mart photo gallery at grovemart.pesdesigngroup.com)
These are not “staged” photos. These are photos taken around 11am on a normal business day. You’ll notice the store is extremely well kept and clean. Products on the shelves are presented well and pushed forward and there is no unnecessary clutter in the aisles. We designed the space so that everything has a place.
Service Attribute Rankings
In Market Force’s study, food and beverage items, such as coffee and sandwiches,were important factors in attracting more customers. Food quality and coffee quality were significant factors in high ranking chains. In our Lake in the Hills store the coffee center is not only kept fresh and tidy by the staff, it was designed to be the center piece as one enters the store. You will notice that the coffee area is immaculate and well stocked.
You can also see below that we designed a fresh food area into the Grab n Go area of the store, which is also within direct sight of a customer when entering the store. Again, very well kept and clean.
Perhaps after reading this you realize that vast improvements on your customers’ experiences can be made in your store simply through better employee training and management of your current store, stressing to them the importance of cleanliness and a positive customer experience. However, maybe you realize that your store needs an “overhaul” or a redesign of your space that will provide you with better merchandising, a neater environment and purposeful design that will create a positive customer experience.
Keep in mind that the research has shown that customers who have an exceptional shopping experience are not only more loyal customers, but also two-times more likely to recommend the place to friends and family.
We can help! At PES Design Group our mission is: “Designing functionally innovative, attractive and profitable c-store and food service facilities on time and on budget”. Our promise to you is, that whatever your project may be, we will approach it as unique. We will use our years of experience to design innovation and uniqueness into your project helping you to set yourself apart from the rest. We can provide you will a store design that will help you achieve a greater positive customer experience.
Don’t take our word for it! Visit our portfolio page at portfolio.pesdesigngroup.com for a list and photos of projects our consultants have done during their 40+ years in the Food Service Design Industry as well as testimonials from very satisfied clients.
About our Consultants
Jim Richards (Jr) is the Managing Member of Cademan Enterprises, LLC and Principal Design Consultant with the PES Design Group’s Southeast Office.
Jim Richards (Sr) is a Principal Design Consultant with the PES Design Group’s Midwest Office.
Together they represent over 40 years of experience in the C-Store and Food Service Design Industries and have hundreds of successful projects and satisfied clients.
*Market Force Information is a worldwide provider of customer intelligence solutions. More than 5,000 consumers were polled for the study, designed to uncover which convenience stores consumers prefer and why.For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent convenience store experience and their likelihood to refer that store brand to others. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score. The survey was conducted in August 2014 across the United States and Canada. The pool of 5,095 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with nearly 62% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 75% were women and 25% were men. Approximately 70% are married, and 40% have children at home.