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2019 Mystery Shop: Cleanliness Counts

What's important, from the fuel island to the kitchen
Photography by Jeremy Charles

CHICAGO — Besides customer service, another area in which QuikTrip excelled in the CSP Intouch Insight Mystery Shop was cleanliness. In the revealed audit, it scored above average on interior and exterior cleanliness and 6 points ahead of the average on the fuel island. The connection between customer service and the gas island seems tenuous at first, but for QuikTrip, they are elements of the same equation to win customer loyalty.

“If a fuel island was sparkling clean and our people weren’t really good to them, then [customers] probably would still say our people were creeps, so I think you’ve kind of got to do it all,” says Chet Cadieux, chairman and CEO of QuikTrip, the winner of this year's mystery shop. “You’ve got to run a clean store, and you’ve got to be nice, and you’ve got to be fast and you’ve got to be friendly. You’ve got to do all those things, and our guys and gals are really good at that.”

High’s of Baltimore LLC ranked highest among brands in the revealed audit, thanks to scoring 100% on exterior and interior cleanliness and the coffee bar, as well as leading the group on fountain and restrooms.

Brad Chivington, senior vice president and general manager of High’s, says the results reflect his team’s emphasis on cleanliness.

“We focused on restrooms and store conditions, exterior conditions, foodservice—those things,” he says. “While we still have some opportunities there, it did show that the areas we’ve been putting focus on were consistent with the audit results, that we were making an improvement.”

Clean and Clear

In the revealed audit, High’s and Nouria notched 100% scores for store exteriors.

Food in Focus

Gleaming fuel islands and restrooms aside, Cameron Watt, president and CEO of Ottawa, Ontario-based Intouch Insight, which conducts the mystery shop on CSP’s behalf, sees opportunity for all operators with foodservice, specifically around food-safety metrics such as expired product and cooler temperatures.

“I used to be a restaurant operator, and expired food product and temperatures that are not considered in the food-safe zone are … a critical failure, even one instance of it,” Watt says. “We’re still fighting too much expired product on the shelf.” For example, 4.8% of the sandwiches that shoppers evaluated were out of date.

“If one per 20 items in a restaurant were expired, we would all be aghast at that,” he says. “It’s the different food handling and food chain, and I get it’s different because it’s put on shelf and rotated and not the same as freshly made. But it still is a big deal.”

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