If you have ever used a gas station bathroom, you know exactly what I am talking about. The sticky floors, toilet paper hanging from a mangled coat-hanger, no soap, cracked mirror, no paper towels, “Joanie loves Chachi” scrawled in Sharpie across the stall door. It’s a mess. A lavatory nightmare.
From what I understand, most gas stations are franchised locations or privately owned stations with exclusive contracts with one brand of gasoline. If they are receiving any marketing assistance from these Gasoline Giants, it definitely doesn’t show. It blows my mind that large companies like Shell, Chevron, and BP will put their name on something so clearly devoid of standards. My internal marketer is crying in the corner.
But, there are some success stories. Enter: Quiktrip. This company will change your gas station world. They have been listed among Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, as well as ranking 30th on Forbes magazine’s list of largest private companies in 2013. Their gas pumps are busy night and day, as well as their convenience store. Here is what they do right:
Keep it Clean! – It might seem like the simplest task, but clearly the struggle is real out there. This means clean floors, clean walls, clean bathrooms. Neatly stocked shelves. Clean and organized counters. Clean people! (uniforms and personal hygiene matter in the service industry) Employees and owners need to take pride in their work environments. Most gas stations will price their gasoline under cost for 8 or 9 months out of the year, so their convenience store revenue is important.
May I Help You? – Customer service is on point at QT. Every person that walks through the door is greeted. Problems are dealt with quickly and politely. Their cashier is fast and efficient. Questions are welcomed and always answered with a smile. This delightful experience does not happen by accident. Employees are trained, trialed, and treated right. They value their jobs and respect the signature on their paychecks. It really comes down to simple math: happy worker = happy customer.
We’ve Got it All. – Breadth and depth of your product offering is essential. The premise behind a convenience store… is the convenience. (Ah-Ha!) You need to have all the essentials, plus everyone’s favorite snack. QuikTrip now has QT Kitchens in their locations. They now offer freshly made food and drinks for goodness on-the-go. This is in addition to their massive coffee, fountain, and frozen beverage line-up. A gas station convenience store should satisfy every need, as well as every craving.
Fuel companies spend big money on advertisement, sponsorship, and fuel point reward programs. However, they forget that their number one consumer touch point is at the pump. Companies are not capitalizing on this interaction. They are losing market share by ignoring their market’s needs. I don’t care if they are sponsoring a Ferrari race team… if there is a dirty tampon on the bathroom floor, I am taking my business elsewhere.
*Photo credit QuikTrip website.