What is the first thing you do when you pull up to your store in the morning? Unlock it - flip over the “Open” sign, maybe grab a cup of coffee and start counting cash?
Here’s a little tip for your morning routine that might take you five minutes, but will make you new and returning customers. And what do returning customers mean for you? MONEY. Lots of money. Cleanliness is the easiest, most inexpensive way to gain and retain customers.
So here’s the tip: take a daily morning walk-through as if you were the customer.
The walk-through allows you to see your store through the eyes of your current and prospective customers. And their decision to shop at your store begins before they even pull into your lot.
Here are some key areas to quickly survey first-thing each morning (Remember, this is from a customer’s perspective!):
Is the grass mowed? Is trash blowing around the parking lot? Are there oil stains and old gum on the parking lot and sidewalks? Are parking spaces identified with yellow lines? Are the doors and windows cluttered with advertisements so I can’t see inside?
Is there graffiti, grease, or grime on the pumps/nozzles? Are the pumps bagged off? Are the trash receptacles overflowing?
Are they clean? Are there adequate paper towels and toilet paper? Is the mirror clean and free of cracks? Are light bulbs burnt out or flickering? Is the odor foul or pleasing?
For the love of all living things…We want clean restrooms!
Are the floors mopped and swept? Is the store layout fluid and easy to navigate (i.e. are cardboard promotional shippers crowding my way)? Are the shelves dusted? Have the walk-in shelves been stocked? Are the fountain/coffee areas clean, inviting, and organized?
Are the cashiers friendly? Do they look approachable? Are they wearing uniforms? Are the uniforms clean? Are they counting change back to customers? Do they greet customers and thank them for their business?
If, after reading this, you are slightly overwhelmed with the amount of progress to be made, let me offer you some solace: the purpose of the morning walk-through is not to fix everything right then and there. It is to acknowledge that there is room for improvement. Carry a small notepad in your pocket and make note of the issues. Then try to mark a few things off every day.
And here’s another idea. Bring your employees in on the fun as well. Once you have set the bar higher on your expectations of cleanliness and organization for your store, have them survey the store too. Give them the opportunity to find areas of improvement and work to resolve those issues. You will find that your employees will take pride in your store’s presentation, which will also lead to greater job satisfaction.
Do any of you practice the morning walk-through? Comment on this post and share your success stories with us!
CSA Regional C-store Consultant
South Central Region