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Leading Strategies from the 2016 Gas and Convenience Mystery Shop

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For over a decade, we’ve been working with CSP Magazine to conduct an annual mystery shopping study with the top gas and convenience chains in the industry. This year, our accredited mystery shoppers visited ten brands over the course of a month to evaluate key elements of customer experience, ranging from exterior cleanliness to employee performance.

Each year the study reveals new insights into what strategies drive the success of these brands. This year, company culture was consistently brought up as the most important factor of each chain’s success. Although each chain has unique approaches that are specific to their goals and values, there were a few methods cemented into company culture that were consistent across all stores:

  1. Grow new initiatives
  2. Take care of employees
  3. Ensure cleanliness

Grow new initiatives

One aspect of performance that brands insisted had a large hand in their success, was their foodservice. Being that many of the top performers were new to foodservice, they placed a large amount of importance on the growth and success of that particular initiative.

In order to drive the value and quality of their menu items, they need a high-quality menu and a safe and clean area for food to be stored and presented. This year’s winner, KwikTrip, implemented a bonus program for food sales in order to always keep it on their employee’s minds.

At Rutter’s, they have quality assurance officers who perform routine foodservice inspections to ensure that the foodservice area is always up to standard.

Take care of employees

This year’s top five performing chains agreed that the success of their business strives from the hard work and dedication of their employees. By acknowledging that, they’re able to focus their efforts on the right elements and use this insight to implement practices that contribute to their employees dedication and loyalty.

Ricker’s Friendly Way president and CEO Quinn Ricker says “we treat them how they want to be treated.” And we think it’s just that simple. With advancement opportunities and the Ricker’s Business Academy, they make it appealing for their employees to continue working there - or apply in the first place.

Last year’s winner, QuikTrip, believes that because customers interact with employees, the way they make them feel is also how they feel about QuikTrip as a whole. This is why it’s so important for their employees to feel like they’re part of a family.

Ensure cleanliness

This might seem obvious, but when not prioritized, cleanliness can be easily forgotten. This year’s top brands believed that interior and exterior cleanliness largely contributed to the entire customer experience. By recognizing that, they were able to prioritize it and ensure that it remained a large part of their brand.

Rutter’s builds cleanliness into the culture of their stores. With a thorough process in place, they’re always monitoring their cleanliness. Supervisors inspect during routine visits, store managers inspect first thing in the morning and employees follow six daily forms each shift to ensure that standards are being met.

KwikTrip goes as far as to encourage customers to call their CEO if they find a bathroom that isn’t immaculate and up to standard.


After another successful mystery shop, we are happy to share some of the winning strategies from top chains in the gas and convenience industry to help provide some inspiration on initiatives that could be a good fit for your business next year.

These strategies have been proven by top brands like KwikTrip, Rutter’s, Ricker’s Friendly Way and QuikTrip. They consistently improve their company culture with these methods:

  1. Grow new initiatives
  2. Take care of employees
  3. Ensure cleanliness

For a full list of this year’s study’s results, please click here.




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