Independent gas station owners are always looking for ways to stay competitive with the big gas station chains. There are limits to what you can do regarding the price of fuel, so it’s time to look at a few factors that are within the independent gas station owner’s control.
There are plenty of ways to drive business and show off your best assets that don’t involve cutting prices. Let’s explore the top 10 ways to encourage ServoPro members to stay competitive against their much bigger competitors.
1. Strong commercial offers
There’s nothing people love more than a bargain, and many are constantly on the hunt for a bargain. By providing strong retail offerings at your gas station, you give a large portion of your customer base a reason to choose you over a competitor.
Pick specific days of the week for special promotional offers, like Monday coffee deals to excite customers, or Friday donut deals to serve as a special pre-weekend treat. Be creative and flexible with your promotional strategy to grab the attention of potential customers.
2. Excellent customer service
Good customer service makes someone smile, but great customer service stays with someone all day and keeps them coming back. You can promote great customer service by encouraging your employees to get to know regulars — not just by learning their names, but by knowing what they order and little facts about them.
There’s almost no better feeling than being known and recognized within the community, and if your gas station is a place where that can happen, people will remember you and make a point of it. to choose your station rather than the others.
3. Loyalty programs
What better way to incentivize loyalty than through loyalty programs? You can run one of these handy campaigns using an old-fashioned punch card or going digital and asking customers to enter their phone number or email address every time they make a purchase in your gas station.
Loyalty programs offer rewards to your customers and encourage them to come back for those rewards, for example, 10 fill-ups at the pump could get them a free coffee.
4. Be social
Everyone’s on social media these days – and that should include your gas station. Using social media is the best way to draw attention to your business and engage with your customer base.
It’s not only great for your existing customers, it can also be a great tool to entice a new audience to come through your doors as well. Going back to point number one, you can always offer unique social media offers to entice people to follow you and stay tuned for updates.
5. Food and coffee
Gas stations are no longer just places to refuel, they are also a place where weary travelers – from near and far – stop and refuel. And refueling for many means food and coffee. These are two things you absolutely need to stock up on at your gas station, as most customers expect them when they walk through your doors.
Some people even choose coffee from gas stations over popular chains, they love it so much. Your coffee is a big part of what you’re known for, so thinking about what you store is key to staying ahead of your competition.
When we talk about cleanliness, we are talking about keeping a gas station clean in general. But even more, we are talking about clean bathrooms. Many people use gas stations as a stopover after a long journey, and the last thing they want is to be disgusted by what they find in your toilet. No, making sure the restrooms are spotless isn’t necessarily a glamorous job, but it is necessary.
A clean bathroom at a gas station is something that will stick in the mind of a customer, simply because having a clean public bathroom is so rare. A clean bathroom will definitely keep customers coming back for your cleanliness.
Innovation in the gas station industry means doing things your competitors haven’t thought of yet. Finding out what’s popular and staying ahead of trends is a great way to ensure your gas station is one step ahead of those around you. If you’re constantly innovating and not getting too comfortable, there’s no way to fall behind.
8. Act on customer feedback
The hard truth is that not every customer will be 100% satisfied with the service you provide. Whether it’s your fault or not, when a customer gives feedback in the form of an online or in-person review, it’s important to act on it and show that you want your gas station to be the best possible.
More so, you want to show your customers that you value their opinions and the experiences they have within your service station. So when a customer has a complaint, act on it and do what you can to fix what went wrong.
9. Hire the best employees
Having an exemplary service station starts with having exemplary employees. Hiring employees who genuinely care about your business and the service it provides is the foundation of a successful service station. You can rest easy knowing that the people running your station are trying as hard as you are.
Excellent employees will go out of their way to welcome customers, remember regulars, improve the store and fix anything that goes wrong throughout the day.
10. Be an active part of the community
Your service station is an integral part of the community. Your customers stop for a variety of different and important reasons. They use your gas station to fuel their car, fill their stomach, grab a snack for the road, and more, depending on how many services your gas station offers. Customers also stop by hoping to see a friendly face who knows them and is happy to see them, and this camaraderie strengthens your bond with the community.
You can also be an active member of your community by allowing people to post posters on your bulletin board and participating in community events. This will make you stand out in people’s minds, and they’ll be more likely to choose you over bigger competitors that don’t have that community support aspect.
This article was written by Dan Armes, Founder, ServoPro for the April/May issue of Convenience & Impulse Retailing magazine.