As communities begin to reopen, it is necessary to adapt your convenience store or gas station to the COVID-19 era to ensure both customer and employee safety. Rather than short-term fixes, now is a good time to invest in the long-term through restructuring and redesigning with safety in mind.
Here are a few ways to reconfigure your business to guarantee safety and maintain customer trust.
REFRESH YOUR EXTERIOR
It may seem retro but consider launching a full-service fueling program to minimize the fear of spreading the virus while at the gas pump. This entails an employee coming to the car, taking payment and pumping the gas so the customer never has to leave their car. Also, you should build larger fueling stations with dedicated kiosks for employees to make the process more efficient.
With so many options, people choose businesses that they trust, and visual appeal is key to standing out. To make your gas station look cleaner and more welcoming, revitalize the design of your pumps and exterior. Improve your image by refreshing pump design, installing new decals and incorporating brushed aluminum to better reflect lighting. To improve roadside visual appeal, update lighting features so your business stands out at night.
The spread of COVID-19 has changed how consumers respond to potential germ-exposure, especially in public bathrooms. According to the Bradley Corp., 65 percent of Americans use paper towels to avoid contact with restroom doors and faucets. Furthermore, 91 percent of Americans believe it is extremely or somewhat important that public restrooms are equipped with touchless features.
Make your bathrooms no-touch by installing automated paper towel dispensers, sensor faucets, sensor toilets, hands-free soap dispensers and change doors to automatically open. If rebuilding your bathroom space, make two separate entrances and exits, like airport restrooms, so that customers follow a one-way path and minimize social contact.
REMODEL TO INCORPORATE MORE GROCERY PRODUCTS
More people are going to convenience stores to fulfill their grocery needs, according to a study from EnsembleIQ. In fact, 52 percent of convenience stores reported increased grocery sales as consumers sought out more retail channels besides traditional supermarkets to fill their needs, according to National Association of Convenience Stores.
Build new sections or reconfigure your store layout to accommodate this new demand. For example, add a cooler section to accommodate produce and other perishables. Make sure your new layout still makes it convenient for your customers to go in and out quickly.
REDUCE CONTACT, GO CONTACTLESS
To reduce physical contact, install barriers, sneeze guards and partitions at check-out aisles. Also, on the digital end, install self-checkouts stations, scan-and-go technology and other cashier-less setups.
Curbside pickup will likely remain a consistent feature for businesses. In a study by Field Agent, 52 percent of grocery shoppers buy some groceries online, and 66 percent of their respondents intended to do so for the next five years. If you plan to provide more groceries in your gas station or convenience store, reserve parking spots for curbside pickup and/or install a drive-thru window for pick up.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Fox Arneson specializes in both design and build services for convenience, gas & lube and grocery stores, including remodeling.