A visual overhaul can transform a forecourt from passive and functional to engaging and attractive – a place where drivers make an active choice to rest, relax and recharge rather than a quick pit stop.
Paul Harrison, director at DRB Maintenance part of the TSG Group, explores the impact of branding and presentation on consumer engagement and explains how effective signage can increase forecourt footfall and improves ROI.
Service stations are a ubiquitous part of the driving experience, but what makes a customer choose one over the other? Price of fuel is undoubtedly important, but there is definitely more to it than that. A bright, welcoming, clean and attractive space that clearly communicates what’s available – from fuel type to retail outlets – will be more likely to draw in the crowds and encourage repeat business.
Attractive signage and lighting and a focus on presentation serve to catch the eye of drivers and retain custom by creating an effective identity that conveys the operator’s values.
Visual marketing power
The adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ must be considered in this context. Human beings make first impressions subconsciously and research shows that the brain processes images much more quickly than text.
According to a study by FedEx, 70% of customers believe a company’s signage is a reliable indicator of the organisation’s products and level of services. If forecourts get their branding and signage right, multiple ideas can be conveyed very quickly to ensure a lasting impression.
Exterior signage is the first touch point with customers and plays a key role in the decision to interact with a business. The FedEx survey showed that signage can entice customers to visit, with 76% of respondents stating that they had entered a store they had never visited before based on visual signage alone.
Light it up
Lighting is very important, especially as many forecourt customers visit at night. Well-designed lighting will catch people’s eyes, while providing an initial impression of the experience end-users will have once inside.
Under-canopy lighting provides a brightly illuminated forecourt, parking area, restaurant or shop, and a safe, welcoming ambiance. Lighting underneath signage draws the eye and highlights on-site way-markers, improving the overall customer experience.
Digital signage has changed the game for brands with a recall rate of around 83% - almost double that of traditional advertising. Across a range of studies, digital signage has been shown to increase footfall, sales and brand awareness and reduce perceived waiting times.
Keep it clean
Forecourts can be dirty places, with cars, fumes, grime and fuel all part and parcel of daily wear and tear. Keeping them clean and the paintwork fresh will help to create a positive experience for both customers and staff alike – morale and productivity is improved in working environments where people feel proud.
From regulatory health and safety signs to forecourt canopies and totem poles, the right mix of digital displays, branding and lighting is essential. Options for forecourts include:
Built-up letters & Logos signage
Digital, print and vinyl applications
Flexible PVC banners
Illuminated signage/all aspects
Facility identification signage
Maintain to sustain
Signage is a big investment that must be regularly maintained to prevent its devaluation and to sustain the company’s brand image. A bespoke preventative maintenance contract that includes a 24/7 emergency call-out service will ensure signage is clean, illuminated, safe and any damage to fixings or general wear and tear is swiftly remediated.
Businesses that invest in branding upgrades often benefit from an initial uptick in footfall. In some cases, where a site has had an image overhaul, the cost is re-cooped in a short timeframe, thanks to initial consumer interest. If the customer’s experience backs up their first impression, it builds long-term loyalty and trust.
Forecourt solutions specialists can take control of a project from start to finish, providing site survey, risk assessment, specification, skilled installation and ongoing maintenance to assist operators in creating visually stunning signs that make a real impact on footfall and future resilience in a changing landscape.