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Gas Station Management: Don’t Forget the Food!

Gas Station Management: Don’t Forget the Food!

Believe it or not, but more American’s are increasingly selecting their preferred fuel provider based on the quality of the items INSIDE the store. This signals a change in mindset in the consumer, and should prompt swift action on the part of you, the provider.

By The Numbers: A Growing Trend

According to the data, 1 in 7 (16%) of drivers say that in-store items dictate where they are buying fuel. That number may not seem very high, but it represents a 5% increase from just two years ago. In addition, the percentage of Americans that say gas prices are the sole determining factor DROPPED 6 points during the same time.

A few more numbers to consider:

  1. 42% of gas station customers polled said they went inside the store.
    Of those 42% who entered:
    • 45% entered to purchase a beverage
    • 36% entered to buy a snack
  2. Overall, 8% of customers say they entered the store to purchase a sandwich or other prepared meal. However, that percentage nearly doubled for millennial consumers.

This signifies a shift in thinking on the part of consumers. Where the price of gas is still the main determining factor, customers are starting to think of their gas station beyond the confines of providing fuel.

How Gas Station Owners Can Get On Board

The results of the 2016 NACS Retail Fuels Report supports the notion that consumers are making their gas station choices based on more than just fuel prices. Clearly food, beverage, and snack options are beginning to drive the decision-making process and there are a few things gas station owners can do to cash in.

  • Pay Attention to Food Trends. Even as customers are seeking out healthier options for their meals and snacks, don’t neglect the tried and true classics. Soda, chips, even Twinkies are still extremely popular. Pay attention to industry trends and utilize CStorePro’s inventory reports to see what’s hot, and price book management to easily create combo promotions.
  • Consider Adding Seating. For consumers purchasing a sandwich or meal option, 56% say they eat in their car (you can count me among those!). However, 10% of customers are eating at tables provided inside or outside the store. Adding a seating area, even a small one, can help entice customers and position your location as a “food friendly” gas station.

 

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  • Pay Attention to the Time Of Day. Fuel prices are still the dominant factor in gas station selection. However, you may be surprised to know that more fuel is purchased in the evening (36%) than the morning (22%). Use this information to your advantage and craft your food selection and promotions around it.

     

    For example, morning customers are likely in a greater rush to get to work and therefore have less time. They’re more likely to purchase “quick” items such as a coffee and a pastry or handheld breakfast sandwich. Likewise, customers in the evening may be more interested in meal options.

    Give The Customers What They Want

    In a service-based business, customers are largely driven by their own expectations of the establishment. Gas stations are no different. Whereas fuel prices will still be a key determining factor, there’s no reason to ignore the others.

    Food options are increasingly important to consumers, and fulfilling those expectations is a recipe for a successful gas station management.

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