Your favorite fashion boutique isn't the only place that offers a new collection for the summer. Service stations do too. They start preparing the season very early, selecting new food items and other products starting in April. And the teams have plenty of other work on their plates for the summer season as well.
A crucial peak in business
Total's motorway stations in France welcome 11.5 million customers, hire 1,100 seasonal employees and generate 30% of their annual revenue during the summer. As Cécilia Bellier-Thouret, Vice President Retail Operations Motorway France at Total affiliate Argédis explains, nothing can be left to chance: "Depending on where they're located, certain service stations will get more traffic on the way to vacation areas, while others will get more on the way back. We draw up provisional schedules for both scenarios a year in advance." Higher customer traffic also means higher sales volumes. To meet this demand, service stations prepare larger orders ahead of time, which require more storage space and constant vigilance that cold items always remain refrigerated. The sales floor is also reorganized to ease circulation and highlight selected products. Unsurprisingly, the summer's blockbusters remain unchanged: ice cream, sandwiches and cold drinks.
Responsive and attentive
Anticipation is good, but it's not everything: "We see large numbers of people with very different expectations; they're often tired and need a rest," says Ms. Bellier-Thouret. "We need to be attentive and know how to manage many different situations. Our teams have to be responsive and meet customers' needs quickly so that they feel refreshed when they leave." Team training plays a key role in fulfilling this mission. Bringing new recruits up to speed in record time and teaching them how to deliver a quality experience is crucial. And then there are those little extras that make all the difference: in the French service stations, customers are always pleased to be treated to the season's infant care kits, themed beach towels and coffee breaks.
SUMMER FACTS AND FIGURES for the Argédis motorway service station network in France*
- 30% of annual revenue
- 11.5 million customers
- 192,000 cubic meters of fuel
- 610,000 ice cream sticks sold
- 3.7 million cold drinks sold
* 2014 data