For winning retailer Kwik Trip, foodservice isn’t just a strategic pillar of its business; it has been a major focus in its eff orts around the mystery shop itself. The retailer’s strong foodservice metrics are the most rewarding element of its involvement in the program, says Greg Olson, vice president of retail operations.
“It’s our No. 1 goal, our No. 1 priority since we rolled out [foodservice] in 2002,” Olson says. “We’ve made a ton of mistakes and have learned a lot since then. But our focus is on taking care of the guests, then taking care of the food.”
To reiterate that importance to employees, Kwik Trip has developed leadership levels just for its foodservice program, plus a bonus program built around food sales and food gross-profit dollars.
“It’s really on everyone’s mind every single day,” says Olson.
Of course, any foodservice program is problematic without sound food-safety practices, particularly as the industry faces more stringent regulations from the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“A customer buying a sandwich a couple of degrees off what it should be is not going to have a customer service experience that’s any lesser,” says Gus Olympidis, CEO of second-place mystery-shop finisher Family Express, Valparaiso, Ind. “But if they get sick because the rare occasion becomes reality, then it could be catastrophic.”
This year, the top five retailers in each food-safety attribute mostly scored in the 90s and high 80s. Four received perfect scores for having a procedure in place for tracking temperatures in the sandwich cooler, but the top five dropped to the low 90s and upper 80s for coolers being in the proper temperature range.
The fountain is the biggest Achilles’ heel for the c-store industry, Olympidis says. Too many retailers are not sanitizing their valves often enough—and do not have a set procedure in the first place.
“A c-store chain having a bad event in your neighborhood but not in your store is still your problem,” he says.
Quinn Ricker, president and CEO of Ricker’s, Anderson, Ind., says the 125-store chain is “still in the infancy” of its foodservice program. The offer, now in 14 sites, continues to be rolled out. Ricker’s placed in the top five in a number of foodservice categories, particularly in food safety. The retailer conducts a monthly foodservice excellence inspection, examining everything from food safety to food quality elements such as item rotation, speed of service and the quality of ingredients.
Speedway, Enon, Ohio, has made foodservice a big focus with its grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches, pizza, roller-grill items and snacks. Each site gets a foodservice mystery shop that examines multiple facets. “On top of cleanliness, we look at rotation and dating of items, being in stock, plan-o-gram integrity,” says Glenn Plumby, senior vice president of operations.
As is evident for mystery-shop winner Kwik Trip, success comes with the balance of a high-quality, craveable menu and the safety and operational processes to hold it up.
DATA TABLE OF CONTENTS
CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop Top-Line Scores
The 2016 mystery-shop audits were conducted from May 12 to June 16. These audits took place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any day of the week. Following each visit, mystery shoppers completed a survey in which each response received equal value.
Overall Brand Performance
|Rutter's Farm Stores||91.5%|
|Brand||Number of shops|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||60|
|Kum & Go||80|
Continued: Foodservice Performance
Continued: Cleanliness Performance
|Rutter's Farm Stores||93.2%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||84.7%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||89.8%|
|Kum & Go||88.8%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||91.7%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||81.7%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||96.7%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||100%|
|Rutter's Farm Stores||95.0%|
Was the restroom clean?
|Rutter's Farm Stores||98.2%|
Continued: Employee Performance
|Rutter's Farm Stores||86.9%|