4 Customer Experience Practices You Can Learn From Buc-ee’s

4 Customer Experience Practices You Can Learn From Buc-ee's - Brittany Hodak

If you’ve been to a Buc-ee’s before, you know it’s so much more than a gas station or convenience store; it’s a destination in itself.

Buc-ee’s has achieved a cult-like following, thanks in part to its yummy barbecue and snacks, seemingly endless rows of gasoline pumps, and fun shopping sections. I’ve only been to a handful of Buc-ee’s in the past year — mostly because they haven’t expanded into middle Tennessee yet — but my family members and I are now certified Buc-ee’s superfans. It turns out that it only takes one trip to fall in love!

In this article, I’m breaking down the top CX choices that fuel Buc-ee’s success, and dishing on how you can implement these lessons to drive your own business forward.

Narrow down your target audience

When you try to attract everyone, you end up engaging no one. And yet that’s what so many brands and businesspeople do: craft forgettable experiences for mass consumption by large, general audiences. It’s tempting as an entrepreneur to say that your product or service is for a wide audience. After all, you’d hate to exclude yourself from any potential customers. However, the more generic your messaging is, the less memorable and effective it will be. Once you get clear on your story, your marketing and communications will resonate with your ideal customer base.

Clearly, Buc-ee’s understands this principle. Buc-ee’s is not your average rest stop for a quick bathroom break and refuel. With locations as big as 70,000 square feet offering a wide array of products — including freshly made barbecue sandwiches, homemade jerky, kitchenware, apparel, and much, much more — Buc-ee’s attracts the travelers who enjoy the journey as much as (if not more than!) the destination. 

In addition to being super clear on its ideal customer, Buc-ee’s is also very strict about who it does not serve: semi-truck drivers. 

Each location has several signs around the parking lot that prohibit semi-trucks from entering the property. By eliminating commercial truckers, Buc-ee’s maintains its identity as a magical attraction for families to enjoy along their journey.

Although this rule has become controversial, Buc-ee’s designed its stores with a specific customer in mind and would rather give that segment the best possible experience instead of delivering a sub-par experience to everyone.

Tailor the experience to your ideal customer

Buc-ee’s goes all-in on its ideal customer base by tailoring the experience to their needs. The chain is famous for its large, clean restrooms, and even won the Annual Cintas America’s Best Bathroom Contest in 2012.

After hearing so many of you rave about their bathrooms, I had to see it to believe it. And it’s true: there are literally dozens of spacious stalls at the rest stop and each one provides plenty of hooks for your belongings and is enclosed by floor-to-ceiling doors and partitions. Even the sinks somehow feel private in such a massive restroom! Unlike a typical gas station, Buc-ee’s creates a pleasant and sanitary restroom experience for road-tripping families. Trust me: when you’ve got a newly-potty-trained three-year-old who somehow ends up touching everything in the stall, it’s a big deal!

If you’re only going to Buc-ee’s to use the bathroom, you’re doing it wrong. Buc-ee’s dishes up amazing food. They have a deli counter with brisket sandwiches and other Texas barbecue favorites, an entire wall of homemade beef jerky options, fudge, “beaver nuggets,” and many other unique Buc-ee’s snacks. Check out this article that ranks the top Buc-ee’s snacks to try and the ones that are the most overrated. And don’t even think about leaving without grabbing a Dr Pepper Icee!

Elsewhere in the store, you’ll find Beaver stuffed animals, all kinds of Buc-ee’s apparel, home decor, shoes, dog toys, tents, and more. There are even knick-knacks and souvenirs that aren’t Buc-ee’s branded, providing a fun shopping experience for everyone in the family. And if you’re lucky, you might run into Bucky, the mascot, before you head back to your car.

Last but not least, Buc-ee’s has the world’s longest car wash. Certified by Guinness World Records in 2017, the car wash extends 255 feet and can fit up to 16 cars at once. Doubling down on its family-friendly destination before the destination, the Buc-ee’s car wash feels like a theme park ride with red and yellow scrubbers and soaps.

 

Have fun with your marketing

Buc-ee’s uses every touch point to further tell its story and differentiate itself from the competition. 

The brand promotes its travel centers on billboards hundreds of miles ahead of each location because it knows that customers want to save their stops for the most worthy destination.

However, instead of a simple sign that says “Buc-ee’s in 100 miles”, they maximize the opportunity by infusing their quirky brand and delighting drivers with a funny message. Like Buc-ee’s, how can you elevate an ordinary interaction into something that makes your prospects and customers smile?

For every touch point, ask yourself, “Is there something I can do to elevate this interaction to a memorable experience?” It doesn’t have to be complicated, or even cost a lot of money. Your voicemail message, purchase confirmation emails, 404 notice on your website, and the everyday signage at your business are all touch points that can infuse more of your story.

Pay more than you have to to attract the best people

Perhaps the biggest lesson you can take from Buc-ee’s is their investment in their employees. Your customer experience will only be as good as your employee experience, and it’s clear that Buc-ee’s hires and develops team members that align with their company mission. If you ever have the chance to go to one of the locations, you’ll notice how joyful and friendly the cashiers and attendants are.

At each facility, Buc-ee’s posts several signs promoting the starting wages for each of their positions, along with the generous PTO policy. While the wages differ from location-to-location, they’re all well above the region’s standard for convenience store employees. The National Association of Convenience Stores’ 2022 State of the Industry Compensation Report reveals that the average hourly wage for a full-time “c-store” associate is $14.33.

Buc-ee’s values its employees and understands that, in order to create an enjoyable destination for customers, they need to create a positive and supportive environment for staff. By offering competitive salaries and benefits, they’re proving to employees that they are an integral part of the brand’s success. 

Real talk: how many of your customers are SO obsessed with your customer experience that they’re writing articles about it to thousands of people? Don’t settle for average — strive for unforgettable! Remember: the more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy!

Have you ever been to a Buc-ee’s? What are your favorite treats?

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