The Singers Strike Gold

The third time is indeed the charm for Bill and Loretta Singer, who own and operate Singer’s Chevron just outside the Oregon border in Walla, Walla, Wash.

In 2006, the Singers were presented with Chevron’s “Customer First” bronze award. In 2007, they took home the silver. And, for 2008, they finally laid claim to the gold, beating out more than 8,500 sites nationally to place 9th in the Western U.S. and first in the state of Washington. The Singers’ Walla, Walla store also is the highest-ranking non-distributor owned location.

The award has its perks. The top 46 gold winners receive a gold plaque and a choice of a trip to China for two or a cash award of $1,500. The Singers opted for the cash prize and will receive their award in May, just in time for their 44th wedding anniversary.

“We spent our honeymoon in Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast,” Loretta Singer said. “We love the beach. It is very special to us, so I’m sure that’s where we will go.”
 
The Path to Gold
As part of Customer First, Chevron judges stores across the country on customer relations, store cleanliness and appearance.

“We got 100% on everything,” Bill Singer said. “They send a mystery shopper every two months, and we got 100% on those. Then twice a year they do a station evaluation where they come in and make sure everything is painted and clean, and we got 100% on both those. Then the tiebreaker is how many credit card applications you can get.”

When it comes to cleanliness, Singer keeps the store in top shape. “I always make sure my restrooms are clean. I have people come here and tell me my rest rooms are cleaner than their bathrooms at home,” he said.

In addition to a shipshape store, the mystery shoppers were judging employees, their attitudes, customer service skills and uniforms, including whether or not they were wearing a name tag.

“They’re trying to keep the image looking the same in all their stores. Whether you walk in the store here or wherever, they want the image to be consistent,” Singer said. 

Speaking of the spy shoppers, Singer said he was pleased they visited on days when different employees were in charge—proof everyone is capable of running the store efficiently. “You don’t know when the mystery shopper is coming, but we scored 100% on all the mystery shops, which was great,” he said.

Maintaining the Gold Standard
Now that Singer, who started with Chevron in 1964, has reached gold status, what’s next? To claim gold again in 2009, of course. 

“We finally received it, and now we want to stay on top. Already this year we’ve received the top score on the mystery shop, and now we’re working on our credit card applications,” Singer said. “So I think we have a pretty good chance of getting gold again.”

The Singers also are working on increasing traffic to their store using foodservice. Starting this year, they’ve added a fat-free frozen yogurt machine, and Loretta makes chili on Fridays for chilidog day. “Also, we have soups everyday, and we’ve started adding biscuits and gravy to the daily lineup, so these things have really helped us bring people back to the store several times a week,” he said.

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