Fabulous Freddy’s is wooing new customers with old tricks.
Resurrecting the customer service of decades past, the seven-store chain headquartered in Las Vegas, offers its patrons full-service treatment at the pump, at self-service prices.
“Our company’s mission statement is to provide fabulous service to everyone, and one of the ways we do that is to pump people’s gas for them,” said Fred Smith, president and CEO of the chain. “It’s just another way to be able to service the customers when they come in, and it gives us a chance to talk about a couple of the other services that we have, and sometimes they buy those and that works out well for us.”
The company has been offering the full-service treatment daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. since it opened its first store in 1988. Two attendants man the pumps, filling each tank and running the cash or credit card inside to process the payment, so customers don’t have to leave their cars. Attendants also will check the oil or wash windows upon request, all free of charge.
“We usually have one of the lube guys from our lube shop over there to check the oil, and if they need an oil change then we sell them that,” Smith noted.
As time has gone by, the service has grown more popular. “There are some people who want to pump their own gas, and that’s fine,” Smith said. “But people in business suits or others who have kids in the car and who don’t want to get out of their car for obvious reasons love it, so it works out.”
All the pumps on the property offer full-service, but the attendants will step aside when someone prefers the self-service option. “It’s not perfect for everybody. There are some people who would rather pump their own, and that’s fine as well. We’re not pushy with them,” Smith said.
Turning a Profit
Currently, full-service is only mandatory in Oregon and New Jersey. Smith said most gas stations in other states don’t offer the free full-service treatment because it can be expensive paying extra employees to man the pumps when customers can easily pump their own fuel. The company’s other profit centers—notably the car wash and lube shop–offset the additional cost. In fact, it helps increase business at these profit centers because employees are trained to upsell these other services.
“We have people who pass by other stations to come to us to get gas pumped,” Smith said.
The big question remains, “Is this service hurting in-store sales? Quite the contrary.
“We believe it helps sales,” Smith said, adding that it has done its due diligence to make the stores standalone destinations. Fabulous Freddy’s stores feature proprietary tacos and smoothies and are co-branded with Dunkin’ Donuts, all of which drive in-store business. Plus, if customers at the pump ask, fuel attendants will also purchase items from the c-store for customers when they run the money from the gas service inside.
However, attendants will not run cigarettes or alcohol from the gas island. Customers need to go inside the store to buy those items, which again drives sales into the store. Smith said it’s also common to see customers heading inside to shop, while the attendants gas up the car.
“Customers absolutely love it,” Smith said. “We have been doing this for 10 years, so we feel this does a lot of good.”