As more people hit the road for vacations during peak summer months, convenience stores see increased traffic when nature calls. According to a 2018 summer travel survey, 37 percent of respondents said one of their worst fears when road tripping is being unsure of where to stop for a clean restroom. For convenience store chains, maintaining a brand standard is essential for attracting customers and securing repeat business. Providing a well-kept store is also important given today’s increasingly social culture, when unpleasant online reviews spread quickly and can negatively impact business. Ultimately, convenience stores can realize numerous benefits when cleaning remains consistent and standardized.
To achieve and maintain a standard that will impress customers, organizations should consider the following tips:
- Define the cleaning standard: First, the retailer, along with cleaning partners such as the chemical manufacturer must define the cleaning standard. In other words, what does the retailer want the customer to experience when they visit each store? The standard of cleanliness should encompass the key areas of the facility that will have the greatest impact on customers’ buying behavior (e.g. restrooms, entrances and floors). C-stores that offer food, such as those that partner with sandwich chains, should also ensure counters, tables and other customer-facing areas are kept clean
- Devise a cleaning plan: In working with product manufacturers, retailers must figure out how to achieve the desired level of cleanliness, or brand standard, across different geographies and store layouts while remaining sustainable and cost effective. The cleaning plan should include carefully selected products, processes, tools and equipment. For example, concentrated cleaning products can reduce waste while improving cleanliness and color-coded tools can help eliminate cross contamination between areas like restrooms and foodservice. Additionally, creating cleaning checklists and schedules will help to clearly establish and communicate cleaning expectations and frequencies, and ensure compliance from store associates.
- Implement training: Training all employees at one time and in one place is not feasible when managing multiple stores across several cities or states, and turnover can add a further hindrance. Online interactive training programs are an ideal way to educate employees because they are available 24/7 in multiple languages and can be tailored to adult learning styles, job roles and specific locations. Training schedules should be developed and combine online training with in-person training for special topics. Training sessions should ensure employees who are performing cleaning duties have the right tools and knowledge to do a consistent job. Additionally, training sessions should focus on limiting waste and addressing proper food safety procedures and practices.
- Monitor cleaning performance: Organizations can validate cleaning using a secure auditing platform that collects, analyzes and reports data in real time. They can pinpoint trends for each employee and facility, across all locations. This facilitates continuous improvement of hygiene and safety standards by identifying where cleaning programs need to be refined and where retraining needs to occur. Over time, as each store refines its cleaning program, the gap between customers’ expectations and cleaning outcomes will become smaller.
By following these four steps, c-store chains can develop and maintain consistent brand image across multiple locations. Providing customers with a clean shopping and dining atmosphere will help keep them in the store longer and build brand loyalty, translating to greater store revenue.
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