Byron's Babbles

Smiles For All Your Miles

As a friend, student, and fan of Dr. Joseph Michelli and all his books, I understand the importance of the customer experience. I was reminded of this when I stopped at Buc-ee’s yesterday. For those not familiar, it is a humongous gas station/convenience store/outlet mall (with Buc-ee’s brands) all rolled into one. It is an experience! Founded in 1982, the mission is pretty simple: to provide a clean and friendly in-store experience. In fact, if you haven’t been, you need to go, just to experience the award winning bathrooms. Yes, you read that right – award winning. In 2012, Cintas, a corporate supplier to the service industry, named the New Braunfels, Texas Buc-ee’s location the winner of a nationwide restroom contest. You can read about it here.

In Exactly What We Aim For I quoted Michelli stating, “…I believe that even greater customer value comes from moving from services to experiences (rather than from products to services).” Buc-ee’s understands that the experience is everything. The co-founders Arch (“Beaver”) Aplin and Don Wasek set out to make these extravaganzas the very best in the world. They had a pretty simple strategy statement: “To have the cleanest restrooms.” Think about it, isn’t that all we really want when traveling? When exiting for a pit stop, I have heard my family more than once say, “Pick the place that looks like it will have the cleanest restrooms.” With the Buc-ee’s experience, we know it will be them.

They have even made the billboards along the interstate part of the experience. When 212 miles away you are seeing a billboard telling you that you can stop at Buc-ee’s in, well, 212 miles. Then, when you leave and get back on the interstate, the first billboard you see says, “Until We Meet Again – 165 miles” (see photo). Again, part of the experience. The other thing is, you won’t have to deal with 18 wheelers – not allowed. Every fuel pump, of which there are over 100, has both diesel and regular. The Buc-ee’s I was at even featured ethanol-free fuel and DEF. And, if you need it, they’ve got it! They have (and most of it, their own brand) souvenirs, food, snacks, clothing, hunting gear, college wear (although they were missing the Purdue stuff!), and my favorite – a jerky wall.

When you go on Buc-ee’s website and look under employment, they say, “We believe our store should be clean. We believe our staff should be friendly. We believe our prices should be low. If you believe what we believe, come join the Buc-ee’s team!” Then they ask, “Do you believe what we believe?” If that is not customer experience driven, I am not sure what is. As a person whose life-work is supporting education, I wish every young person could have the experience of learning from this business. Check out the photo of the careers available and salaries. Students would certainly be learning leadership and the customer experience. Maybe the Buc-ee’s folks and I should talk! Next time you are on the interstate and see the Buc-ee’s billboards, start planning your incredible travel-stop experience.

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