Convenience Store Operations Tips: A Matter of Common Sense
When you think about it, the best convenience store operations tips should fall under the category of “common sense,” and indeed they do. The problem is that store operators are often swamped with all the tasks they have to do on a daily basis, all while waiting on customers and delivering top-notch service. Staff simply doesn’t have time to listen to their own common sense. One of the best tips, then, is to be aware of this dynamic and build in other “rules” — if you will — that help alleviate any resulting issues.
Clear clutter from the check-out counter.
While the psychology behind pushing impulse items can result in added sales, ask yourself whether the negative effects are worth it. Do all those incense sticks, fake flowers, and energy drinks annoy as many, or more, customers as they attract? Do you really need donation-to-this-charity signage, give-a-penny-take-a-penny trays, and baskets of candy bar specials in the space where a customer might need to place her purse, the same space designated for bagging items?
Use signage only where it is most effective.
Let’s face it. All those signs around the cash register send a definite message to the customer. “If you break it, it’s yours” comes to mind, but even if you don’t display that particular phraseology, the printed words “Do Not” alienate the customer. Use them more than once, and they can even be offensive. Instead, limit the punitive signs and put them only where necessary. Let your prominent signs be ones that encourage customers at the pump to come in rather than drive quickly away. Promote beverage and snack specials such as coffee/doughnuts in the morning and cold drinks/chips later in the day.
Be careful about driving customers away.
Consider the messages you send when clerks fail to acknowledge customers as they are waiting in line. A word, a smile, or just a look will suffice, but by all means let the customer know you’re trying to get to him as soon as possible. Rather than make the customer wait, put the caller on hold who rings after the in-store customer has arrived. Have someone cover the register while your employee is taking a restroom or smoke break. Have him mop the floor after customers leave instead of while they are waiting in line.
Yes, the best tips in the convenience store business are really common sense. Let your policies and habits grow out of common sense and they will serve you well, even when you’re too busy to think.