And a clean restroom is only one preference of motorists when they choose a gas station. Factors that also steer them include good loyalty programs, customer service and employee quality, speed of payment processing and selection of cold beverages. Here, in a nutshell, are five of the top concerns of motorists.
- Cleanliness – Do not underestimate customers’ ability to see the details. They notice every aspect of convenience stores’ appearance—from filthy restrooms to unswept floors and greasy tables. And they do not take these infractions lightly. Cleanliness was ranked just below quality of fuel in why customers said they preferred their favorite gas stations and/or brands, according to a recent in-depth GasBuddy report.
- Brand reputation – How people perceive a particular store is key to others choosing it. And for younger consumers who put a premium on store experience, good brand buzz is critical for success. In a Feb. 28, 2018, survey of GasBuddy users, 32.8% of respondents said brand reputation was the reason they prefer their stations and/or brands. This reason alone should encourage c-stores and gas stations to up their game. One way to start generating positive reviews is to differentiate yourself. Stores with unique offerings often prompt users to give enthusiastic reviews, while customers at more typical stores have less to talk about.
- A safe environment – How inviting a gas station is at the outset is a big deal to consumers. If lighting is poor on the forecourt, for example, a potential customer may drive away before even checking the price at the pump. GasBuddy’s 2017 Foot Traffic Report found that stations near interstates with above-average outdoor lighting ratings received 50% more visits between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. than those with below-average ratings.
- Quality of food – Food may be a lost opportunity for c-stores. The Feb. 28, 2018 survey of GasBuddy users found that a total of 67.2% of consumers say they refuel at the same sites where they buy their food or beverages. Unfortunately, though, there is still a disconnect when it comes to associating quality food with c-stores. Only 4% of respondents said that gas stations and c-stores offer higher-quality food than quick-service restaurants (QSRs), according to a survey of 2,200 GasBuddy users. The same study found that only 40% of respondents said they purchase food from c-stores and gas stations, while 86% said they purchase food from QSRs.
- Amenities – Consumers like their speedy Wi-Fi. And it may even determine where they stop for gas. A store with a spotty or slow connection could frustrate consumers. And if they have trouble ordering through an app or they can’t view loyalty rewards because of the bad connection, the store loses out in more ways than one. Good loyalty programs are another reason consumers give for preferring their favorite stations and/or brands. Some 28% of consumers, in fact, feel this way, the Feb. 28, 2018, survey found. Investing in such a program, if it increases traffic, may be just the trick to shore up loyalty.
For increasing customer satisfaction at c-stores, retailers should take notice of these attributes and work toward ensuring all of them are up to par. Don’t miss out on traffic and sales because the lights are too dim, the bathroom unclean or the food options lacking.