Valero Launches Mystery Shopper Program

Stores will be evaluated three times a year to ensure customer needs are met and employees are providing a positive retail experience.

By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

Valero has partnered with Maritz Research to launch a new mystery shopping program, called Commitment to Excellence.

As part of the new program, each of the company’s Valero, Shamrock and Beacon branded locations throughout its wholesale network will be visited by a mystery shopper three times a year and evaluated using a set criteria. Store managers will have no idea when the mystery shoppers might stop into their stores.

“This is part of our continuing program to enhance the customer experience at all employer branded stores—not just the company stores that we have direct control over—but the Valero branded stores where we supply gasoline, but don’t really have control over the store experience,” said Bill Day, executive director of media relations for Valero Energy Corp., which operates approximately 5,800 retail and branded wholesale outlets in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean under the Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Ultramar and Beacon brands.

The Commitment to Excellence program aims to provide branded marketers an objective look at their stores from a consumer’s perspective, zeroing in on areas that can directly influence shoppers’ overall impression of a store and shopping experience as a whole.

“Through this program we work with our branded wholesalers and dealers to make sure that when the customer comes to buy Valero fuel they’re getting the most positive experience they possibly can,” Day said.

Third-Party Assistance
Maritz Research is set to provide Valero with expertise in the mystery shopping field, as well as its nationwide network of auditors to evaluate stores. Maritz also plans to maintain Valero’s Commitment to Excellence Website that provides marketers access to reports ranging from individual site results to aggregate scores, including frequently missed questions, for all locations within its operation.

As the mystery shoppers visit each store, they will ensure the location is clean and well-lit, that their shopping experience was a positive one and that the convenience store staff members were friendly and helpful.

“Anything our customers would want when they enter the store is the same sort of things the mystery shopper will be looking for,” Day said.
Valero aims to gain valuable information from the new program that will help it continue to craft a positive experience for its convenience store customers going forward.

“First, we want to enhance the customer experience when people are shopping at Valero branded stores, but secondly we want to learn more about customer behavior: What are things we can do to increase sales?  What are some current trends customers are looking for that we may not have heard about?” Day said. “The mystery shopper program will open new lines of communication between our dealers, ourselves and our customers.”



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