Converting Your Forecourt into a Moneymaker

By Vladik Rikhter

race-trac-forecourt

Answer honestly: Is your forecourt a neglected part of your gas station/convenience store operations?

You might be focusing more on gas volumes and prices. Take a step back to the curb for a moment, and look at the area of your property that serves as the front door – the forecourt.

Think about when you went trick-or-treating as a kid. Did you excitedly run up to the dilapidated house with the crooked door hanging on a hinge? Well maybe you did, if you knew they had good candy! That’s the thing about first impressions. You can serve the best coffee in town on the inside, but from the outside, a grimy forecourt that lacks promotional effort is turning off customers who aren’t brand loyal.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity! There are essentially three areas of your forecourt that need attention in two ways: cleaning/maintenance and promotional.

oil-ground-slick

1. The Ground

Cleaning
When customers step out of their cars, they might drop trash, soda or gum on the forecourt’s concrete surface. Cars may be leaking oil. These are substances that can leave stains. Spilled oil or gas is also an environmental and potential safety hazard. Train your staff on how to properly remove these stains with the right industrial cleaning agents.

Promotional Check
The forecourt is a great place for stand-up signage that advertises loyalty rewards and/or in-store promotions. Position this signage so that it meets the customer’s eye when they exit their vehicles.

gas-station-window-washing-bucket

2. The trash receptacles/window washing stations

Cleaning
Before using cleaning agents, it’s necessary to first sweep up dirt and debris. Follow a routine. Regularly empty trash receptacles and if possible, offer recycling containers. Also make sure to wipe down the outside of these receptacles.

Gross Fact
Swampy odor and slime can grow in your washing station buckets. Replace the window cleaner solution daily. In cold weather, you may need to add an agent that lowers the solution’s freezing temperature.

Promotional check
Think of these receptacles and buckets as a blank canvas for promotions. It’s prime real estate for your brand or vendors. You might as well use it if it’s available!

dirty-gas-pumps

The gas pumps

Cleaning
Industrial cleaning agents may also be needed for nozzles and holsters. Wipe down hoses and clean the concrete islands beneath the pumps. Use stainless steel cleaners and then polish for an extra shine. Remove graffiti and stickers that don’t reflect your brand. Protect your keypads and screens where dirt and grime collect.

Promotional Check
Some gas stations now feature small televisions or digital ads that flash across the payment screen. Digital signage is the future of retail but if you can’t invest in the technology right now, continue to use traditional printed signs above the point-of-sale. There are also stickers for gas nozzles and “clip-on” signage for hoses.

The Takeaway

Maintaining a gas station’s forecourt is a lot more involved than simply picking up trash and wiping down surfaces with a rag. In fact, the process may be part of a full property inspection.

Use a checklist and train your employees. Audit your locations to make sure the tasks are completed properly and that promotional materials are on point across the network.

If you adopt a process, you’ll soon notice a boost in your brand image and eventually, a corresponding boost in profits.

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