Along with measures like installing shields at point-of-sale systems and social distancing markers on the floors, as well as providing gloves and hand sanitizer, Indiana-based Good Oil Company’s Good to Go stores started offering full-service fueling for vulnerable customers.
“Not only will we pump the fuel for them, but we’d even go in the store, purchase items on their behalf, and bring it back out to the vehicle for them,” said Director of Marketing & Food Service Mike Jones. “That’s something we’ve been doing almost from the beginning when the shutdowns started in our areas. And it’s something that not only we’re proud of, but our team members were very excited to do and happy to do.”
In addition, Good to Go started paying its hourly employees an additional $2 per hour on April 7, and will continue through May. And the company is supporting its communities in other ways, like ordering lunches on a weekly basis from local restaurants to help support them.
“We’re giving a lot back and spending a lot of time trying to help out our fellow retailers in the communities that we serve,” said VP of Retail Operations Ken Jackson.
Other measures include sanitization of high-touch areas every hour, monitored by Jackson, as well as some changes in foodservice, like transitioning its doughnuts into plastic, individual containers, and eliminating roller grill as well as self-serve pizza and coffee.
“We wanted to go above and beyond what we thought people would perceive,” said Jones. “I think it’s equally important that we’re making smart moves, but also that our customers see that we’re making smart moves and feel comfortable.”
While many adjustments may be temporary, he sees the potential for some permanent change, like keeping gloves at the pump for customers.
“We’re all learning a lot, and very quickly. But I think a lot of these areas will stick with us even beyond this in terms of how we do business,” said Jones.
In counties with shelter-at-home restrictions, Good to Go opened a curbside pickup service and a drive-through lane of sorts, Jones said.
“All the customers have to do is pull up, and someone’s going to run out and will take your order, so they never have to leave their vehicle,” he said.
In an effort to accommodate customers long-term, Good to Go started working with Vroom Delivery. In the next few weeks, the chain will offer online ordering that will allow for takeout and curbside pickup for not only foodservice but nearly all items, including tobacco, alcohol, snacks and more.
In the next three or four months, Good to Go will begin offering a delivery option as well.
“When COVID-19 and the various restrictions started, it was apparent that this was a revenue stream or offer that was going to become more and more necessary,” said Jones. “As most of our stores are rural, we don’t have the luxury of a Grubhub or a delivery service, these types of traditional third-party programs, so we knew we were going to have to make a commitment to self-deliver.”
While Jackson saw delivery as a minor trends in the convenience industry initially, these days, he sees it as a necessity for success.
“At this time, if you’re not in that game, you’re not going to be successful long-term,” he said. “The customers, they want delivery. They want curbside pickup. It’s just another convenience experience that they’re beginning to come to expect.”
Jones agrees that consumers will begin to expect these types of options and added convenience post-COVID. Even after the virus has gone, some of the new consumer mindsets will stay.
“I think it’s only a natural progression. It was coming to the c-store business anyway, and I think COVID-19 accelerated it,” he said. “I mean, we’re ‘convenience’ for a reason, and what’s more convenient than being able to order from your home and have it delivered?”