I hope you’ve all had a good summer - yes it eventually arrived, encouraging people to get out and about and make the most of the warm temperatures by driving to the beach, shopping for barbecues, or generally travelling around the country as they took in the sights on their ’staycations’ 

Foreign tourists have also been making the most of the favourable exchange rates to visit the UK. Were you able to maximise the opportunities? The team at Forecourt Trader has also been adding to the traffic as we drove thousands of miles in July and August judging sites for the Forecourt Trader of the Year awards.

And while there were many well-performing sites, with ongoing high standards of operation, some were clearly struggling. It’s one thing to have a rush on stock and run out of something, but should a store really look like a herd of cows has trampled through it so that any new customer coming in is in no doubt about the kind of day you’ve had?

Are they likely to spend more – and want to come back – as they tiptoe around the chaotic shelves, debris on the floor or numerous crates of stock in the aisles waiting for someone to unload them? Will they want to buy coffee from a machine scattered with sugar, stirrers and dribbles of latte? nAd what about that last dried up (un)savoury pastry? Also, is there a nicer way to close a food outlet – especially when it’s closed early because of a lack of rolls – than sticking a bucket and mop, or upturned chair at the entrance?

A good site manager and well trained staff can make all the difference. A quick ‘rumble’ – as one entrant described their strategy – worked well: every now and then staff were summoned to the floor to have a quick clean and tidy. But the worst criticism was for certain forecourts. Weeds in pots? Grass around the car wash? Dirty rusty pump covers? Faded white lines? Canopies creaking with cobwebs and creepy crawlies? Ouch!

Roll on this month’s Forecourt Trader of the Year Awards.