Years ago I was riding through West Texas with a senior marketing executive from Town and Country Food Stores. We were visiting some of their convenience stores in preparation for a presentation I would be giving at their company annual meeting.
As we went from store to store, I realized that I had not seen any “Pay Before You Pump” signs on any of the gas pumps. This was back in the day before the pay at the pump technology that we have today. At that time, most convenience stores required customers to come into the store and leave a credit card or cash before they would turn on the gas pump. Every time you wanted to get gas, you had to get out of your car, go into the store, go back to your car and pump the gas, go back into the store to retrieve your credit card and get your receipt, and then go back to your car. Not exactly what you would call “convenient.”
Since that was the routine I was used to, it go my attention when Town and Country had no pay before you pump requirement. You could pull up, pump your gas, go in and pay and you were done. A lot more “convenient.”
When I asked about their system, the explanation made a lot of sense. It turns out that “drive offs” (people who pump gas and don’t pay) made up only one percent of gas sales. So it did not make any sense to create a policy to control the one percent while inconveniencing that 99% of customers that were good, loyal, honest, paying customers. So Town and Country figured out other ways to control the one percent that were dishonest while making it very convenient for the 99% who were honest. As a result, their business increased because they were more “convenient” than the competition.
It is a great reminder for any business: Don’t make policies focused on the customers you don’t want that penalize the customers you do want! It does not make any sense. Yet businesses do it all the time.
What policies do you have that you made in reaction to the behavior of the “few” that inconvenience the “many?” Do your rules make it easier or harder for people to do business with you? If you’re like me, you’ll go to the place that makes it easier to do business…easier for you, the customer…not for them, the business!