Program spurs consumer loyalty while helping community and inspiring store cleanliness among employees.
By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.
ALON Brands is taking its Clean Team program to the next level with a new customer contest and car giveaways.
“All major oil brands are pulling back and getting rid of retail locations and turning toward refining and selling, and they’re getting away from the customer, pulling further back,” said Scott Shakespeare, general manager of brand advertising and promotions for Alon Brands, the largest 7-Eleven licensee in the U.S., and operator of over 300 convenience stores. “We’ve taken the opposite approach at ALON and decided we’re going to get closer to the customer, and one of the areas where we feel we can stand out is cleanliness. ”
In 2010, ALON first launched its Clean Team program internally. “We put our stake in the sand and said we’re going to own clean,” Shakespeare said.
Clean Team stores are inspected several times a year by a contracted team that visits every location and scores it in key areas, such as the fueling island, restrooms and inside the store.
“Stores are graded on a predetermined set of criteria. Are things painted? Is the branding current? Does anything need to be repaired? Is it clean?” Shakespeare said. “We want to take white glove to the top of the soda machine and all that.”
Employees at the top-rated stores are rewarded with cash and prizes based on their scores and percentage of improvement. The grand prize each year is a free car to the store manager with the highest score.
While the program started with company-operated stores, it has since rolled out to dealer stores. ALON distributes to more than 800 independent fuel sites.
This year, ALON has expanded the program, with plans to award 13 cars to loyal customers, deserving local charities (Community Champions) and its highest performing store employees. It launched Clean 13.
Clean 13 features three components:
Load the CODE 4
ALON is giving away four free cars to customers through its Load the Code sweepstakes. “We printed up 13 million little cards and each has a unique code, and we distributed them to all of the ALON stores. All the advertising points consumers to go into the store and get one of these cards with a code and then go online and enter the code and register to win one of the cars,” Shakespeare said. “We also have a mobile enhanced version so they can enter on their phone.”
Cars 4 Cause
Each time a customers logs on to enter their code to win a free car, they also can vote the outstanding “Community Champion” or they feel should also receive a car. Visitors to the Website are given a list of eligible charities in ALON’s marketing areas.
While winning customers will all receive a 2013 Ford Escape, ALON is giving winning charities the option of choosing a car within budget parameters. “If it’s Meals on Wheels, maybe they want a pickup truck, but if it’s an elderly service they may want a panel van and someone else might benefit from the type of car they can raffle off,” Shakespeare said.
Under the Clean Team program, ALON will award five cars this year to retail employees. Two cars will be awarded to store managers at winning company-owned sites. One car will be awarded by Allsup’s Convenience Stores in West Texas, which launched its own Clean Team program through a partnership with ALON last year. The remaining three cars will be awarded to managers at dealer locations.
The CLEAN 13 program officially launched on Feb. 1 and will continue until Oct. 7 with cars being awarded throughout the year.