RaceTrac Cleans Up

Annual CSP-Service Intelligence Mystery Shop catches spotless interiors

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP


OAK BROOK, Ill. & ATLANTA -- Part of ensuring a "wow" experience for every RaceTrac customer means establishing a safe and clean environment. It's a mantra that helped the chain rank No. 3 overall in the annual CSP-Service Intelligence Mystery Shop and No. 1 in the subcategory of interior cleanliness.

Final results in the annual survey--this year expanded to include chains of less than 150 stores (with those results to come this fall)--reviewed eight large regional and national chains, analyzing exterior and interior cleanliness, customer service, merchandising and employee appearance. CSP Daily News will count down the top three chains with more than 300 stores and reveal highlights in the coming days, with a feature revealing the study results in the August issue of CSP magazine.

This year, the Fort Mill, S.C.-based Service Intelligence sent shoppers to the following chains: Casey's General Stores, Ankeny, Iowa; Circle K Great Lakes, Akron, Ohio; E-Z Mart Stores, Texarkana, Texas; Kwik Trip Inc., La Crosse, Wis.; MAPCO, Brentwood, Tenn.; QuikTrip, Tulsa, Okla.; RaceTrac Petroleum, Atlanta; and Sheetz, Altoona, Pa. Shoppers completed 80 to 110 visits per chain during eight weeks this past spring.

Ashleigh Collins, communications manager for RaceTrac, gave CSP Daily News insights into its operational methods and what it does to maintain high standards of cleanliness and customer service.

Q: Can you talk about the standards you have regarding store cleanliness--what you benchmark against and what you consider "clean?"

A: At RaceTrac, our associates regularly clean and spot check our stores. At the beginning of every shift, the team performs a six-point checklist, which addresses overall cleanliness, food safety standards, inventory of products, accuracy of signage and more. Also, our managers regularly perform store walks to ensure the store is clean and that shift duties have been handled.

Our overall goal is striving to provide clean, safe, fast, full and friendly service. We think both inside and outside of our industry, benchmarking our standards against a wide variety of retailers, from restaurants to grocery stores to QSRs [quick-serve restaurants], to ensure we are maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness as we expand our foodservice offering.

Q: What processes in general are in place to standardize a high level of excellence regarding store cleanliness and staying in stock? Training? Hiring practices? Incentives?

A: Again, each of our store teams perform routine cleaning checks using a six-point checklist at the onset of every shift, and perform store walks as needed to ensure our stores are always clean and inviting for guests. That six-point checklist allows store teams to monitor overall cleanliness, food safety standards, inventory of products and accuracy of signage to ensure that the interior and exterior of the store are operationally excellent.

Store walks are regularly performed throughout the day, and cover the entire store. These walks ensure that the store teams keep the stock full while identifying tasks that must be completed, ranging from cleaning and restocking the restrooms to sweeping and mopping the sales floor, ensuring the highest quality experience for our guests.

In terms of training, we offer several programs, including a manager training program, to assist our team members in learning the standards we strive for and to help them grow in their managerial experience.

Q: What are the philosophies behind your standards?

A: Our goal is to become the convenience store of choice. We always strive to put people first in everything that we do; this includes not only our team members, but also our guests. We aim to deliver a "wow" experience to our guests every time they walk into a RaceTrac store and ensuring safety and cleanliness throughout our stores is one way to deliver on our mission to make our guests' lives simple and enjoyable.

With the evolution of our foodservice offering, it's important that we raise the bar and always aim to exceed the standards of not only our convenience store competitors, but also other retailers.

Q: Are you surprised that you did so well against other top-notch operations?

A: We pride ourselves on serving our guests and helping them have a simple and enjoyable visit to our stores, every time. Because of the standards for cleanliness in place, we are pleased to see our brand performing at the top of our category in cleanliness, especially being surrounded by other great competitors, and hope to continue to be seen as a leader in the industry.

[Editor's Note: For insights on the chain that placed second overall in this year's CSP-Service Intelligence Mystery Shop survey, follow for this continuing series of reports on CSP Daily News.]

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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