With the latest trends showing more variety in foodservice options, convenience stores are giving fast food restaurants a run for their money – literally. Your area quick-serve restaurants are aware of the competition they face from you and your fellow c-store operators, and they won’t go down without a fight. To win over their customers, you need to up your game.
Think Like a Fast Food Restaurateur
You’re competing with fast food restaurateurs, so you should probably start thinking like them as well. In the restaurant industry, service is your invisible product. Customers have a greater expectation for exceptional service when it comes to ordering a sandwich than buying convenience items on the go. Train your staff on service techniques every day. Mystery shop, role-play, and take the time to work behind the food counter to understand the challenges faced by your employees there.
See Your Customers as Guests
In a retail environment, customers are “shopping” — they may or may not buy something. Restaurant customers are “guests” – if they’re standing in line at your deli counter, they’ve likely already decided to purchase something. Fast food restaurateurs recognize that difference and capitalize on it. They know that they only get one chance to prove themselves to each guest, so they have to make it count.
The words “service” and “hospitality” tend to be used interchangeably, but they’re very different. Service involves steps and tasks to fill a need. A fountain machine dispensing a soda is service. Delivering food is service (“Here’s your order.”). Hospitality is the desire to serve others. It’s the flair and personalization of going through the service steps in a unique manner (“One hot delicious chicken combo meal for you, Mr. Smith!”). It’s the sizzle that makes guests say, “Wow, that place gets it!”
Guest Loyalty Will Make or Break You
In the restaurant business, “Good enough” never is. You’re not shooting for your guests to be satisfied, you want them to be delighted and loyal. Slight improvements in frequency and service levels produce huge gains in sales and profits. Guests won’t be loyal if they’re treated like a number or transaction. Train your staff to provide customized experiences that guests will want to repeat again and again.
Fast Food & C-Store Training
Our Early Success Online Training Series is a comprehensive program that covers a wide variety of topics, including foodservice, customer service, and compliance. Visit our Learning Library to learn more.