What price loyalty? The reason I’m asking is because my local Sainsbury is going through a major refurbishment. The store is being made much, much bigger so the place resembles a building site.

As you drive up to the store you can see that half the roof is missing. The restaurant and toilets are outside in temporary buildings and there’s even a temporary petrol station. The place is in uproar but it’s business as usual. Customers have moaned about limited parking spaces and the store is definitely quieter than usual but I still shop there. Part of that’s due to habit but the other part is due to the regular letters I get from the manager, apologising about the inconvenience and giving me vouchers for double Nectar points.

A member of staff told me that she wondered why they hadn’t just closed the store for a month and got all the work over and done with. I can see her point but I quite like the ’What will be the latest obstacle?’ aspect to my weekly shop. Shoppers are a fickle bunch so I can see why some are staying away.

As for the temporary petrol station, it’s really quite impressive. It comprises two rows of pumps and Portakabins at the end at which to pay. I haven’t actually used it yet because I’ve never got the patience to queue for supermarket petrol. It must have been costly to put together so it just goes to show how important continuity of service is to Sainsbury. All this got me wondering about what you do to retain your customers. You might offer Nectar points or another petrol loyalty scheme but if not, what do you do? I think if you serve hot coffee then there’s an opportunity there (along the lines of buy five cups, get your sixth free) as people like the chance to get something for nothing.

At the services near the Forecourt Trader offices they serve Costa Coffee. Until recently, they had a sign saying Costa Coffee reward cards were not accepted there. Not everybody saw the sign so those who proffered their cards to the staff had it waved at them, sometimes rather aggressively. It was strange why run a loyalty scheme which is only accepted in some of your outlets? I know that they are franchised but even so, it’s pretty poor not to honour a branded loyalty scheme. Now, thankfully, they endorse the scheme. I don’t actually drink coffee so it makes no difference to me, I just like fair play!