Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Shop Doctor: Shell Halfmoon, Epping, Essex

GENERAL APPEARANCE:

I was happy to pull into the Shell Halfmoon service station as its advertised pole prices were competitive. I also needed a snack for lunch and was interested to again sample some of the Shell 'Deli2go' range.

FORECOURT:

It's a medium-size forecourt with a planting area to the road front that has been totally neglected and is overgrown and full of weeds. Advertising boards promote the availability of a Costa Express and hand car wash service, but no retail prices or deal offers are shown.

The pole is almost dwarfed by the massive Shell-branded canopy covering four islands of pumps. While access to the pumps is good, the pumps looked in need of some basic cleaning. Their appearance was not helped by notices stuck to two islands informing drivers that the 'pay-at-the-pump' facility was not available.

But the price for fuels was competitive and was attracting a fairly steady stream of drivers few seemed to be making shop purchases though.

The car wash at the rear of the site was closed but in its place there is a hand-wash service. The area is bollarded off from the main forecourt and during my visit there was always a car being cleaned. Signs advertised special hand-wash deals including Ladies Day and OAPs' day.

Air, water and vacuum services were available; there were also a few designated parking spaces.

Outside the shop were bins containing lubricants, screen wash, kindling, barbecue fuels as well as a rather care-worn newspaper dispenser and a few bunches of flowers. So having refuelled my car and been rather disappointed by the forecourt, I entered the shop with the hope of something better.

SHOP:

It has a Shell Shop fascia and is a smallish store.

The Costa Express unit is right by the entrance but again no sign of the cost of the drinks.

Then there is the sandwich/savoury snacks cabinet that contained a small selection of 'Deli2go' branded sandwiches. The BLT that I had was good!

The shop offers a very restricted top-up range of groceries but a wide selection of impulse confectionery, crisps/snacks and soft drinks.

So, only the basic convenience store category range but even these items were not displayed/promoted to their best advantage.

I saw only one poster and that was for a 1 offer on bottled water.

The customer toilet was in an acceptable condition.

I was the only customer at the time of my visit, but had to wait while the member of staff serving on the till had finished using his mobile phone.

All in all, a rather poor shopping experience.

PROGNOSIS:

Shell has introduced initiatives to encourage customers to spend more. At some of its 900 Shell-branded sites, forecourt attendants have been employed and to further drive shop sales, a new-look Shell Select Deli2go concept has been introduced.

DIAGNOSIS:

Customer service is vital. Of course, it's important to have a light, clean and well-merchandised shop too.

However, customers may not return if the customer service has been poor. Speed of service is important to many forecourt customers so staff should be trained in the basics of customer service. To smile, to make eye contact, to conclude the transaction efficiently even to up-sell particular products.

PRESCRIPTION:

Short of a much-needed refurbishment possible conversion to a Shell Select Deli2go store there are some actions that could be taken immediately to improve the customer experience and the business:

Ensure all pump islands are clean and functioning correctly.

Maintain the front-of-site flower bed.

Introduce promotion material/A-boards with price offers, coffee prices, meal deals etc.

Install an ATM.

Introduce the Health Lottery.

Extend the shop's range of Deli2go products.

Make trays of loose apples, bananas and oranges available at the till area.

Develop a loyalty scheme with the hand-wash operators, for example on Costa coffee and Deli2go products.

Promote the benefits of the Shell Drivers' Club.

Train staff to ensure that excellent customer service is offered at all times.

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Weekly Fuel Prices 19 June 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East116.8467.90123.89115.71
East Midlands116.1958.90125.25115.27
London116.5858.57125.23115.54
North East115.3759.90124.99114.79
North West116.39124.26115.33
Northern Ireland115.4264.90122.90115.05
Scotland116.4071.90125.06115.09
South East117.1163.90126.62116.05
South West116.69125.72115.56
Wales115.94123.73114.93
West Midlands116.5457.40124.97115.63
Yorkshire & Humber116.1154.90123.66115.16

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