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Striving to present “the ultimate experience for the consumer,” the Sheetz team relies on three pillars to support its position: the company culture, category leadership and innovation and personality.
-- The company’s culture. Sheetz remains family owned and operated. “That seems like a trite statement, but it is at the core of the brand,” said Fred McConnell, director, brand development, for Sheetz Inc. “The brand is, first and foremost, literally the family name. The fact that a family is at the helm together creates an environment where senior management genuinely cares about its employees and customers.
“It is not something that has been instilled by consultants, it actually exists. It influences the way management treats each other, treats their employees and treats their customers.”
-- Category leadership and innovation. The family’s entrepreneurial spirit is behind its tolerance for risk-taking and bold innovation, McConnell said. Although the brand is clearly positioned in the convenience/gas and quick-service industries, the mold is broken in three key areas: quality and variety of food, the in-store experience and superior service, the executive said.
“We offer a substantially higher quality than expected at a convenience store,” McConnell explained. “In-store, it is obvious that care and attention has been paid, and that this is a professional organization. The consumer immediately knows that every Sheetz will inherently feel this same way – it does not feel like a one-off.”
In the area of customer service, employees are clean, knowledgeable, friendly and professional, “which is a far cry from the expectation of the category,” he said.
Cornerstone to this strength is the chain’s focus on the customer and employees who “feel the love.” While any operator can construct nice buildings, sell made-to-order food and specialty drinks and operate around the clock, McConnell said no one else can be Sheetz. “Employees who feel the love for Sheetz and their customers create a contagious environment. Not only do their coworkers pick up on it, but our customers do too. They come back for more, and tell their friends and families about this wonderful place they discovered, called Sheetz.”
-- Personality. The chain works to actively engage the customer in an emotional way. “It is the voice of the brand that consumers ultimately respond to, and Sheetz is a brand that has managed to bring to the category an ownable fun factor that is part bravado and part wink."