Are You Making Your Gas Station a Destination?
By Wolfgang Manz, President & CEO, PWM Electronic Price Signs
It’s no secret that gas stations are in fierce competition with each other to be the supplier of choice for every motorist on the road. Three or four stations often crowd a single intersection, vying for the attention of drivers. Price wars, loyalty programs, and special offers are the order of the day as station proprietors try to lure customers in the door. But what about gas stations that are so unique that people will drive miles just to reach them, regardless of the price at the pump?
Here are a few examples of unique stations that are destinations in their own right.
Dallas is one of the largest cities in the U.S. with tourist attractions galore. But Fuel City is where motorists go to fill up on gas and whimsy. Fresh Tex-Mex food, a karaoke trailer where customers can show off their vocal skills, a swimming pool, and a variety of traditional and exotic livestock viewable from the carwash make this “travel center” quite an attraction. And it’s more than the hobby of an eccentric Texan. This eight-acre property pulls in more than $30 million annually.
Fill ‘er up and take off a couple of inches while you’re at it. That’s the typical request at one of entrepreneur Ralf Mehlmann’s line of service stations in Germany. Here, drivers can stretch their legs, grab a coffee, and get a haircut at the same place they fill up on petrol. For folks on the go, it offers an alternative to making a separate trip to a “quick cut” salon. It’s a new spin on multi-tasking, for sure.
OK, so the Holiday stations of the 21st century look a lot like typical C-stores. But back in the day, they had a whole range of unique products from their own brand of soda to bicycles that were the envy of all the neighborhood kids. Legend has it that it was once possible to buy firearms at a local Holiday gas station. This chain certainly earned its reputation as being “America’s Most Unusual Service Stations.”
In the Southern United States, Buc-ees is synonymous with immaculate bathrooms and big box store inventory where one can purchase virtually anything—from apparel to a BBQ grill. Few customers make it out the door without buying at least a few items they hadn’t intended to purchase. The “cult of the beaver” is almost eerie in its ability to make new converts after a single visit. Buc-ees billboards on each major interstate urge drivers to hold it for another 50 miles (skipping all the competing gas stations along the route) just to make it to their hallowed aisles and spotless stalls. And people do.
What Can You Do to Make Your Gas Station Notable?
With any brand, it takes time to build a loyal following. Gas stations and C-stores that invest in digital marketing to stay “top of mind” with their customer base or connect on a cultural level via social media certainly gain an edge. Yet store signage that reaches out to drivers every day remains one of the most effective ways to capture attention.
With a dynamic digital sign like the PWM Profit Board, a station can rotate between jokes, community announcements, safe driving tips, special deals, and more, making their sign serve many purposes and ensuring that people check every day to see what is new. It’s a simple, yet effective way to connect with people on a personal level so your location is the one they call, “THE gas station.”