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A Spring Cleaning Checklist

In our first article we wrote about your c-store being the best marketing tool you have.We talked of "eye appeal" being "buy appeal." The question is, have you recently looked at your store through the eyes of your customer?Does your store have buy appeal?

Look at your store (and your competitors') with a consumer's eyes. Customers don't know what your problems are any more than they know those of your competitors. They don't know why the floor is dirty or why that piece of equipment is not working. Frankly, they don’t care.What they do know is that they have several places where they can buy most of the items every c-store carries, and if your store doesn’t meet their expectations, the one down the street will.

That being said, we know keeping a c-store clean every day is not easy. You know this is a never ending process. You keep the floor mopped and the coffee area clean, but time is short and some areas don't get all the attention that they might.

This is especially true at this time of year. We all know that the winter season is hard on c-stores both externally and internally. Spring Cleaning is the time to address those "forgotten" tasks that can and do make a difference between you and your competitor down the street. Because the weather is still "iffy" we are going to focus this column on the inside of the store.

What is the difference between your daily cleaning and Spring Cleaning? You dust the items on your shelves regularly, but during Spring Cleaning you take the items off the shelf so that it can be washed.

A hidden benefit is that you (or your staff) has to touch every item. This gives you the chance to notice (and remove) the dented cans, torn bags, etc. that you might over look in the hustle of every day. You may not have noticed them before, but rest assured your customers did. The value of the merchandise removed from sale is small compared to the improvement in your store's image.

One of the areas that can get really messy is the milk shelving. Not only does it look bad, it can be a health hazard. We also suggest you clean the area under all your cooler shelving. You may not notice the "stuff" that lies there when filling the cooler, but your customer does when making a purchase.

This is also a great time to defrost the freezers. It can be messy, but far better to defrost them when the weather is cool and sales are low than to do it mid-summer when your freezer sales are much higher.

You regularly replace burned out bulbs, but during Spring Cleaning you should remove the bulbs, clean them, the reflecting area of the light fixture, and any lens covers you might have. It's amazing what a difference this can make in the lighting level of the store.

While you're cleaning the lighting fixtures, look at the ceiling. During Spring Cleaning not only should you clean the heating ducts, but the tiles around them as well. In other cases, the tiles may not be cleanable and have to be replaced.

One area b2b Solutions is always amazed that c-store retailers overlook when cleaning their stores is their trash containers. Given what they are used for, they get dirty – in fact, they can get really disgusting. We have often recommended retailers clean and/or replace them as part of our Operational Assessment process. It a relatively small investment and can make a big difference in the image of your store.

Hopefully these examples will illustrate the steps you should be taking during Spring Cleaning at your store. Basic rule, if it can be cleaned it should be.

Spring Cleaning is also a great time to do those small repairs you have let go during the winter. This can cover everything from painting nicked areas, to fixing the drain in the fountain machines that doesn't work as well as it should.

A hidden benefit of Spring Cleaning is that your customers will see you and note that you are working to ensure that their c-store is a clean one.

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