"What about the customer?” At CEFCO, that is the underlying question that factors into everything we do. “Customer” to us is defined as both our consumers and our internal team that supports our consumer needs.
By asking this question and then defining our new stores accordingly, we have created excellence for the “customer” in our new store design.
Our most recent store was designed with the input from a multi-disciplined and cross-functional internal group, which included our foodservice, marketing and store operations teams. It was critically important that this design meet the needs of our frontline employees in serving our consumer. We also leveraged the expertise of our designer, Paragon Solutions, in making significant changes from our former design.
This newest design is 2,000 square feet larger than our former design, with improvement in exterior colors, accents and lighting. On the inside, we changed virtually everything, including colors and graphics, equipment packages, restroom design and position, cold-vault size and position, and our checkout layout.
The main differences are in our foodservice area and offerings. We segmented our food offerings from the rest of the store and used subtle tile, fur down and color changes from the rest of the store to help differentiate the area. We added proprietary hot and cold grab-and-go foods and expanded our cold beverages to include store-brewed iced tea and iced coffee, as well as our private-label frozen carbonated beverages. We also changed our coffee look and included our proprietary self-service yogurt concept into this design. Most of our food and beverage offerings tie back to the overall “fresh” branding of our new design.
Although CEFCO has grown rapidly via acquisition, over the past few years we have also grown organically with more than 20 ground-up locations. Our newest prototype store is 5,500 square feet, and our travel-center prototype is more than 10,000 square feet, not counting our corporately operated QSRs that adjoin the travel center.
Going into 2015, CEFCO operated 240 stores and 18 QSRs across a six-state market. That recently changed when we opened our first location in the Florida Panhandle in May, marking a contiguous move into our seventh state. Our second and most recent store in the Panhandle is located in Crestview, Fla., and opened in late July.
Our typical new build has 16 fueling positions with a backlit canopy and LED lighting. This particular location has nearly 30 parking spaces. The canopy columns are framed with stone from top to bottom. The Crestview location includes a PDQ Tandem automatic car wash. This more than 2-acre, state-of-the-art facility has a powerful appearance and draws consumers onto our property.
Once in the store, customers are greeted with earth tones and stone finishing that replicate the decor of our exterior and surround the center of the store. Complementing these are lifestyle graphical images directing the consumer to our offerings.
We believe that best-in-class restrooms for travelers is paramount, especially as it relates to our foodservice image. We designed large, open-door restrooms, beautifully finished with stone and tile. We are so committed to providing a consistently clean and stocked restroom that we have a quality pledge from our owner in every restroom.
CONTINUED: Getting Fresh
While we certainly have some creative marketing tactics such as our mix-and-match craft-beer option in this store, our best point of differentiation is our foodservice. We have leveraged our proprietary Fresh Eats Café branding to create an overarching “fresh” platform in our new stores.
One example of our commitment to our customer is our Fresh Joe coffee platform. We have an abundance of soft-heat brewing vessels for both coffee and tea. Unique to this market is our offer for the consumer to “romance their coffee” via our stand-alone chilled well, which holds various add-ons such as whipped cream, sprinkles, Godiva chocolate and other fresh creams.
We are also proud of our hot and cold grab-and-go Fresh Eats program. It is incorporated into a strategically placed open-air display cooler, which holds our proprietary sandwich wedges, subs and wraps, plus salads and other affinity items. Our hot Fresh
Eats program consists of day-part items such as croissants, biscuits, pizza, toasted melt sandwiches, burritos, spicy chicken sandwiches, wings and others merchandised in our self-service hot display case.
This latest generation location also boasts an eye-popping proprietary self-service yogurt concept we proudly call Fresh Yo. We invested nearly two years of research and design into developing this fun concept. Our concept team tried to understand what drove customer satisfaction by examining what the rest of the yogurt channel was doing in terms of equipment, product and process. After healthy debate as to what the test would entail and then measuring results, we decided to incorporate Fresh Yo into our new store design. The vibrant colors, patterns, and streaming video are compelling to customers across all ages and genders. It is designed to guide the customer from cup size to yogurt flavors to adding a plethora of fresh fruit and candy toppings and finally weighing and paying. Without question, this has been a resounding success in pleasing our customers.
Getting to Know You
We are proud of our design and offerings, but we are most proud of our team members who serve our customers every day. Without their passion and dedication, our stores would just be four walls and not the living brand they exemplify.
Are we satisfied? Not even close! We have tweaked our current design several times over the past couple of years and have morphed it into our larger travel-center design. We continue working to enhance our design to be even more food-centric and customer-pleasing.
We are excited about CEFCO’s organic growth and potential strategic acquisitions. Stay tuned.