Creating a Positive First Impression
Like a field in baseball, the condition of your store affects how well you and your team perform. Think of it this way – your success depends on the perceptions customers form about your operation. Like the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a positive first impression. With effective training and proper maintenance, you can make sure every first impression is a good one.
Outside Your Store
Your parking lot, pump area, and the outside your store are the first areas your customers will come in contact with. If these areas are unkempt or unattractive, customers may lose their motivation to make the trip inside for a bite to eat or other items. To make a positive first impression outside your store, train your staff on cleaning the fuel pump, sweeping the parking lot, and other general exterior store care. On a regular basis, inspect the outside of your store for problems such as:
- Weeds, dead flowers, or litter in landscaped areas.
- Broken or non-working lighting, including in lighted signs.
- Outdated or unauthorized signage.
- Full trash cans on fuel islands.
- Empty or dirty squeegees, solvent, and paper towel dispensers.
- Hazards in pavement, such as cracks or holes.
- Dirty windows.
- Doors that stick or don’t open properly.
Inside Your Store
When customers enter your store, what do they see? A clean and uncluttered store will make customers feel comfortable as they shop. To keep a positive first impression going on inside the store, train your staff on sales floor care, cleaning the shelves, and keeping the restroom clean. Keep an eye out for issues inside your store that will turn customers off and potentially cost you sales, such as:
- Shelves that are messy or poorly stocked.
- Items that are placed on incorrect shelves.
- Cluttered or disorganized checkout counters.
- Outdated or damaged promotional signs.
- Crowded or dirty aisles.
Your merchandising efforts will be more effective when the inside and outside of your store is well taken care of. Merchandising is more than just stocking products. It’s about creating appealing displays that motivate a shopper to purchase an item on impulse or because it’s being offered at a great value. Merchandising displays also help you highlight seasonal and new products. Pay attention to the details, and track sales of targeted items to ensure your merchandising efforts are paying off.
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