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Bobby and Steve?s Auto World, known for combining car washes with convenience stores and auto repair, has reason to celebrate this year. Bobby Williams, founder of the chain based in Eden Prairie, Minn., is celebrating 60 years in the convenience store and fuel industry, while his multi-faceted business is celebrating its 16th anniversary.
From tires, quick lubes and auto repair, to convenience stores, gas stations and car washes, the eight-location Bobby and Steve?s chain aims to be a one-stop shop for its customers.
?The convenience store and gas side of the business brings in the most foot traffic, but the auto repair leads in terms of profit,? Madalena Ferreira, director of convenience store operations for Bobby and Steve?s, told Convenience Store News.
Throughout 2014, the company is celebrating the anniversaries at one location per month with a party and a week of games and promotions. Also, one Saturday during the month, customers can take advantage of a one-hour promotional offer of 60 cents off per gallon of gasoline. They will even find Williams pumping the gas for customers himself, noted Ferreira. Six of the retailer?s locations are Mobil branded and two offer BP fuel.
Customer loyalty is cultivated at Bobby and Steve?s in several ways.
Seven of the chain?s stores feature an automated car wash, with some also providing car detailing services. In 2007, the retailer launched its WorldPass membership car wash program. For $29.99 a month, customers can get an unlimited number of washes at any Bobby and Steve?s Auto World location.
?It?s been a really good program for us, and we really have our employees promote it because it creates loyalty and traffic,? Ferreira explained. ?We have point-of-sale ads, and teach [our] team members and car wash attendants to talk to customers about it.?
Currently, there are more than 970 WorldPass members. When customers join the program, they receive a tag to attach on their car?s windshield with an RFID chip that identifies them as WorldPass members when they pull up to the car wash.
Non-members can choose from three or four wash options and are able to purchase a car wash at the pump, in-store or via a kiosk at the car wash entrance.
Bobby and Steve?s also offers a separate loyalty program called World Rewards. In the past month, it?s had more than 13,400 active members, said Ferreira. For every dollar spent ? whether on auto repair, car wash, gasoline or in-store ? customers receive one point, which can be redeemed for any purchase at the location. They are also entitled to 3 cents off each gallon of gas, and have access to monthly promotions.
The convenience store portion of the business contributes 23 percent of overall sales, second only to the service department. With the service department playing such a large role in the chain ? representing 51 percent of total sales ? the stores offer large automotive departments ranging from 8 feet to 12 feet in size.
FOCUSED ON FOOD
As part of its objective to be a one-stop shop for its customers, Bobby and Steve?s offers a variety of food and beverage options.
Its Eat Well program, focused on offering all-natural and gluten-free packaged foods, continues to do well. Some locations have the products scattered throughout, while others group them all together on one end-cap.
?We love to hear people say, ?You can actually eat healthy here,? when they walk in,? Ferreira said.
In terms of fresh food, the chain is focused mainly on breakfast and lunch, but its offerings are available through dinner time, and include made-to-order sandwiches, wraps, fresh fruit, salads, burgers and more. There are five different salad varieties and five wrap options.
?Our salads are big and we can?t keep up with them in the summer, which is great,? Ferreira added.
At three of the locations, Godfather?s Pizza is available and is doing very well, plus the chain has a chicken program through Martin Brothers in Iowa, but actually seasons and cooks the chicken at the store.
?Lunch is pretty busy for us,? Ferreira said. ?We expanded our breakfast options in the beginning of the year, and we are seeing that do well. We added more selections and focused on creating a better image and packaging. We renamed our sandwiches and created a brand name ? Great Big Café ? which is our proprietary brand.?
Three breakfast options are now available: The King, made with eggs, a choice of meat and cheddar cheese on a sourdough bun; The Warmup, made with eggs, sausage, pepper jack cheese and ?mean green? sauce on wheatberry bread; and The Ultimate, made with eggs, sausage, bacon, American cheese and cheddar cheese on a sourdough bun.
Bobby and Steve?s serves up Great Day coffee and plans to expand the rest of its foodservice options with the same image and name over the next year, said Ferreira.