TULSA, Okla. -- Differentiation and a quality experience can make the difference between a store a consumer stops at for convenience and one that the consumer seeks out again and again. Today, CSP Daily News launches a digital feature that highlights the strategies that make some of the convenience-store industry’s biggest players perennial successes. This feature covers QuikTrip, whose consistent triumph was anything but quick.
With 740 c-stores and nearly $1.4 billion in sales in 2016, per Technomic, the Tulsa, Okla.-based chain is No. 12 in the latest update to CSP’s 2017 Top 202 list of the largest c-store chains in the United States. CSP Daily News spoke with Mike Thornbrugh, the chain’s public relations manager, to understand how the 59-year-old retailer maintains its appeal with consumers.
He said it comes down to four things …
“We’re not going to succeed unless it’s in a high-traffic area,” Thornbrugh said. “Even if we move across the street, we’re always looking out for what locations better suit us.” QuikTrip has locations in high traffic, metropolitan areas such as Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta and Kansas City, Mo.
Thornbrugh said the chain evaluates changes in consumer driving habits and road construction to target potential new locations. “We’re not talking rocket science here,” he said. “It’s back to the basics.”
Thornbrugh said QuikTrip aims to keep its facilities in mint condition, whether that means immediately replacing broken appliances or constantly cleaning the main floor and restrooms. “It’s logical,” he said. “Why would someone buy fresh food in a dirty store?” Patrons have certainly noticed these efforts. In a recent GasBuddy report, consumers in nine U.S. states—the most by any brand—rated QuikTrip the top c-store in terms of restroom cleanliness.
“We need to be on our A-game all the time,” he said. “And if we aren’t, consumers will quickly lose interest.”
The days of solely competing against other c-stores are over. Everyone in retail and specialty shops sells products such as coffee and pastries, said Thornbrugh, so remaining conscious of competitor pricing is key. Through controlling the quality, transportation and price, QuikTrip can turn any run-of-the-mill product into its own, he said.
“We’re cognizant of what everyone else does,” he said. “We must figure out how to mathematically sell the same product better than [competitors] do.” There’s always someone else out there who has a better idea of doing things. We look at that and say, ‘How can we make this idea fit our model?’ ”
Quality Customer Service
Thornbrugh said QuikTrip is successful because it executes quality customer service—the most important trait—at such a high level. “Anyone can have a nice-looking building and merchandise, but if you don’t concentrate on customer service and performance, people will go elsewhere,” he said. He attributes QuikTrip’s quality customer service to its top-notch employees.
“We hire to our culture,” he said. “Training doesn’t stop at day one; it goes on forever. We take pride in everything we do and strive to do it better than everyone else. It’s given us one hell of a loyalty base.”