A CSP.net article from earlier this year discusses the increasingly blurry lines between different eating venues, with restaurants offering express options and convenience stores expanding on food service, including offering prepared foods and serving stations.
It’s important to realize that while location and on-the-go options are of course hugely important qualities for convenience store success, convenience stores need to also improve on the kind of qualities people would look for in a more traditional restaurant.
An op-ed from Nation’s Restaurant News mentions a study on convenience store customer expectations and how they’ve generally grown to be more sophisticated and discerning. It’s not that soft drinks and sugary snacks have lost their place in convenience stores; these can still be very popular items. But in order to appeal to a broader range of customers, convenience stores need to improve the diversity of their offerings while also operating at higher standards.
This includes the following:
• Having employees behave with the attentiveness, efficiency and friendliness of high-quality waitstaff.
• Keeping the store looking squeaky clean.
• Making sure the store is tidy and that expired stock is promptly replaced.
• Enticing customers with a wider variety of food and beverage options, including more flavors and also healthier choices.
Instead of turning to a convenience store as a last resort when no other options are readily available, customers will be more likely to see it as a welcome choice. For example, if you have customers regularly come in for breakfast coffee, be sure to serve them with a smile and some polite words, in a clean setting, where they also have their pick among flavorful, high-quality options.
The subtle importance of operating a store to the highest standards can’t be underestimated, especially as it can drive repeat business and invite new customers in who look forward to purchasing from you.