“There is a [huge] disconnect between what retailers think shoppers want and how well they think they are meeting those expectations and how shoppers think. In some cases, the differences can be quite striking and a retailer’s ability to close the expectation and execution gap is where there exists ample opportunity for growth.” - Mike Troy, Retail Leader Essentials
Do you ever wonder why your location’s retail/food conversion rates from the back court (diesel fueling lanes) are so low even though a very large percentage of professional divers come into your store to either get a receipt and/or to use the restrooms? During store visits, I am always surprised by how our industry typically fails to really welcome our core customer—the professional driver—into our stores.
‘Wait,’ you say. ‘I just remodeled my restrooms. We offer clean showers. In fact, we offer upgraded showers, numerous food options, etc. We are doing a lot of things to welcome and appreciate our drivers.’
But have you ever taken the time to view your operation from drivers’ fueling position? I encourage you to stand at the diesel bays and take a look at the entrance as well the types of messages you’re posting on the backside/side court of the building. Even better, invite a friend, maybe one who isn’t in the industry, to stop by your location and view your operation from both sides.
Usually there is nothing welcoming on the back of the building. I often see boxes, Mclane, Pepsi and Coca Cola totes, or a golf cart that may or may not be operational. There isn’t the sparkling food point-of-purchasing merchandise that we know is key to driving sales. Often the back of the building is often just that, the back of the building even though for our professional drivers it is the front of the building.
Now compare that to your forecourt appearance where many of us have magnificent entrances. Even new entries into our market from the c-store industry world follow this similar path. So we say to our drivers, ‘Thanks for plunking down $400.00 to fuel with us, and when you are done come on in through the back of the store.’
Can you imagine plunking down $400.00 at a nice hotel and then being asked to enter from the back or a side alley? Not a pretty sight, I am certain.
So ask yourself, why are we so welcoming in the forecourt and so unwelcoming in the backcourt or side court? More than likely, we never gave it much thought. So my challenge to all of us is make sure you make the professional driver as welcomed to enter the building and spend money as you are the automobile customer. You might just gain some additional sales by communicating that the inside is just as awesome as the outside that he or she gaze upon while they fuel.
Here are five ways to determine how welcoming you are to the professional drivers stopping at your location:
- Compare the back or side of the building customer view versus what customers in the forecourt see? What is the message? What does it look like? Is it appealing? Is it inviting? Does it look cool like the front of the building?
- Compare your forecourt building entrance to your backcourt or side court professional driver entrance. What is the message? What does it look like? Is it appealing? Is it inviting?
- Compare your messaging on pump toppers on your gasoline dispensers to the pump toppers on your diesel dispensers. What is the message? What does it look like? Is it appealing? Does it encourage customers to come inside and spend money the way our gasoline pump toppers do?
- Compare the messaging and signage for customers entering from the forecourt, which are traditionally all positive and good looking, to the much more negative signage that professional drivers are greeted with. If you do see the disconnect I often see, make a change.
- Based on the signage, do customers entering from the front know exactly what your offerings are? Can you say the same for customers entering from the back or side diesel bays? Often they have no idea.
I just can’t stress it enough. What customers see from the forecourt is often a beautiful and well-lit building and what professional drivers often see is a bland, blank, uninviting building telling them that they are not as important as the customer entering from the front. It is time to roll out the red carpet for these hard working customers. And in case you have not noticed, there is a lot more competition and it is getting significantly a lot tougher
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