With over 150,000 convenience stores across the U.S., consumers have no shortage of options when they’re looking to grab a quick snack or soda. That means it’s vital that your store offers more than its competitors and gets customers inside.
While franchisees often need to follow strict policies and procedures to maintain brand guidelines, shrewd owners will take action to make sure their stores stand out. Maintaining a clean appearance and establishing your store as a favorite community stomping ground won’t raise corporate eyebrows; it will highlight the way you operate as an example for other franchisees.
Here are four ways to increase foot traffic in your retail store.
Maintain an Inviting Exterior
Your storefront is the first thing that potential customers will see, and other than a need for a certain product, it’s by far the most important factor in determining whether or not they enter. A whopping 95% of customers say that a store’s exterior appearance influences their decision to shop there.
“Seeing a clean and well-maintained green space really tells the customer a lot about not only your operator and who's running your business, but about the quality of service and product that they can expect,” says Judd Campbell, Director of New Store Development and Real Estate at Batteries Plus. “There's a lot of inferences that they make based on those things.”
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Embrace Social Media
Your parent company undoubtedly has its own social media presence, and maybe it even has some personality - witness 7-Eleven’s fun “backwards” revamp on November 7 (aka 11/7 in the U.S.). Maintaining social media channels is probably a low priority for an individual franchisee, especially since you probably don’t have the budget to bring on a designated social media coordinator. However, making the effort to keep the community abreast of special events, sales, and employee spotlights will give customers a more personal connection to your store.
You may also be able to get some assistance from your parent company in creating content for your own local store. “Even though there is consistency across the brand and across the footprint, we do have things that are uniquely local to specific stores that go out,” says Campbell. “Even though our franchisees don't necessarily have direct control over the social media page, [each channel] will have that local feel and flavor that's targeted here through our corporate social media presence.”
Establish a Reputation for Reliability
There’s no feeling worse than craving a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos only to discover that they’re out of stock. Neglected, empty shelves suggest carelessness on management’s part, and if customers are consistently let down, eventually they’ll stop coming in. Ensure that products are swiftly removed when expiration dates pass, and confirm that prices are accurate and sales are promoted.
It’s also important that customer-facing staff members are enthusiastic and friendly. One negative experience could lose a customer for life. Train and incentivize employees so they provide exceptional service. CX expert Shep Hyken says that helpful, friendly employees are the single biggest factor in creating loyal customers.
Offer Incentives and Become a Community Pillar
Anyone who’s been to a coffee shop is familiar with the aspiring screenwriter parked at a table for hours, writing a blockbuster feature and sipping on the same cold latte for four hours. They may claim the ambience inspires them and keeps them free from distraction, but the real attraction is the free wi-fi.
You may not want someone camped out with their laptop by the frozen foods section for hours on end, but these sorts of perks will increase foot traffic and incentivize customers to shop while they’re there.
“We pride ourselves on our unmatched customer service that is evident within our retail store,” says Leanne Li, founder and CEO at fashion brand Blue Bungalow. Customers must “feel seen, valued, and part of our community.
The Bottom Line
A familiar brand and convenient location may get customers in the door one time, but slacking on the elements that create a warm, welcoming environment will not inspire the sort of confidence and positivity that leads to loyalty. Fortunately, maintaining an appealing exterior doesn’t have to be your concern. TaskEasy’s automated landscaping services keep your green space healthy and inviting all year long. Learn more about our commercial offerings.