Don’t you hate paying $.75 to put air in your tires? Me too. Especially when I don’t have any change on me. So, boy was I happy when I realized the air was free at a Chevron on my way to work yesterday.
I was elated and immediately started asking the question, “why doesn’t every gas station offer free air and water?”
Then it got me thinking of the days when the idea of paying for air or water was unthinkable.
In the seventies, it was a different experience altogether.
Mom would pull up the gas pump in our Ford Galaxie 500 and an attendant would pump the gas, then pop the hood, check the oil and fluid in the radiator, check the tires and then wash their windows—all at no extra charge.
In my neighborhood, we’d go to Murphy’s Chevron. Murphy was a gruff-looking old WWII vet who walked with a limp and had a heart of gold. To this day, I don’t know if Murphy was his first name or last. He was always simply “Murphy,” no “Mister,” needed.
Eventually full service at no extra charge gave way to full service costing a lot more per gallon. Now, most stations only offer self-service only, and the person working in the mini-mart wouldn’t know what an oil funnel was if you asked them for one. I’m not kidding. This actually happened to me a month ago. The station sold the oil, but had no funnels.
What a shame.
At the stations I frequent, I’m seldom greeted or thanked, and the attendant is watching television, talking on the phone or chatting with a friend. Too bad they aren’t actively serving customers.
Amid this, just how cool would it be if a chain of service stations decided to make customer service their mission and seek out a truly unique position in the category? Why not? There’s always a station known for cheap gas. Why not one known for incredible, world-beating service?
It’s not a stretch, really.
It’s already being done in the vehicle oil change/maintenance space. Oil Can Henry’s is a fast-growing franchise taking on Jiffy Lube head-on in some markets by offering “old-fashioned service,” a unique brand and real service innovations.
So, would you go out of your way for a service station that had tangibly better service?
Why or why not?