Don't Let Summer Melt Your C-Store Profits

May 21, 2024 12:03:45 PM | 5 minute read

Matt Wholley (1)by Matt Wholley

Matt currently serves as VP of Operations at Vixxo. Matt is not just responsible for driving operations and ensuring facility issues are taken care of; he also serves as a customer advocate for retail, restaurant, grocery, and convenience store customers. He goes above and beyond to understand the unique needs of each type of business and ensures that their facilities are fully operational, especially during the summer months. In particular, Matt's in-depth expertise in HVAC and refrigeration systems at convenience stores allows him to advise clients on how to prepare and ensure the performance of critical equipment. With over ten years of experience in facilities management, he has honed his skills and developed a strategic approach to facility solutions, making him a trusted expert in the industry.

Matt Wholley Article (2)

As temperatures rise, we find solace in the summer months knowing that stepping into our favorite stores for a quick refresh involves more than just a cold drink or treat. Customers anticipate entering a cool and inviting store, where they can linger to make additional purchases before braving the scorching heat outside. How long will they stay and how much will they buy if they are met with a stuffy, poorly cooled store struggling with limited air conditioning or temporary cooling solutions? Will they return if the store is closed or barely functional? And how much effort will it take to win back these customers once repairs are completed?

These are just a few of the questions that stress out managers and owners when the summer temperatures start climbing.

With Memorial Day around the corner. AAA is projecting that nearly 44 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the holiday period. These are the highest numbers for car travel since 2000. Last year also had unprecedented heat and our convenience store case study showed the volume of HVAC/R work orders had increased by 34% in June and July compared to the prior year in 2022.

Additionally, our Trade Specialist team estimates that over 50% of all mechanical, refrigeration and energy equipment isn’t running as efficiently as possible on any given day. Come summer, this hidden weakness becomes a ticking time bomb, jeopardizing not just your inventory but customer satisfaction and, ultimately, a potential a decline in summer sales due to discomfort and product spoilage.

However, as you head into the 100 days of summer (the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, traditionally busy for HVAC, Refrigeration, and Food Service/Beverage equipment), we recommend taking on the following to avoid cooler cases not working and installing temporary cooling.

Summer Boot Camp: Become a Preventative Maintenance Master (and Save Money)

As consumers embark on their summer vacations, convenience stores will experience a remarkable surge in sales, with a potential increase of 17% in revenue. Having proper preventative maintenance programs in place for your crucial equipment helps ensure that these assets do not go down. A qualified technician will:

  • Inspect the Air Filters: Clogged filters hinder airflow and force your AC to work overtime, leading up to a 30% increase in energy consumption. Aim for monthly filter replacements during the summer heat.
  • Clean the Condenser Coils:  Dust and debris buildup reduce heat transfer and cooling performance. Schedule annual coil cleaning to keep your system optimized, which can reduce energy costs by up to 10%.
  • Check Refrigerant Levels: Low or leaky refrigerant translates to a sluggish AC. The technician will top up or identify leaks for repair, ensuring your system packs a powerful punch and avoids a potential refrigerant leak which can incur hefty fines due to environmental regulations.
  • Inspect Belts and Pulleys: Worn belts are like frayed ropes, slipping and reducing efficiency. The technician will check for wear and tear, recommending replacements to keep your system running smoothly and avoid a costly breakdown that could cost upwards of $500.
  • Test Thermostats: Inaccurate readings can lead to improper cooling. Technicians will calibrate or replace thermostats as needed, ensuring your system hits the target temperature every time and avoids unnecessary energy waste.


Summertime Triage: Prioritizing When the Heat is On

When summer is in full swing, prioritize work orders by most critical.

Create a plan when equipment goes down to avoid potential revenue loss. Work with your technicians and partners on what they should do if the equipment cannot be fixed in that initial visit and what parts they need to stock. Evaluate your first-time fix (FTF) percentage (the percentage of work orders fixed on the first visit compared to all work orders). If your FTF is below 70%, it might be time to evaluate your program. The best programs can be between 80-90%, saving them money from return visits and reducing equipment downtime.

When reviewing your FTF, ensure that work orders are truly closed. We have seen situations where the work order is closed even if the repair is not fixed to allow the team to create a new work order to send to another technician. 

image-png-Mar-11-2024-08-31-27-2893-PMA Case Study:

A California store location experienced frequent repairs in 2021 and 2022, which flagged it for a proactive maintenance program in 2023. Unfortunately, budget cuts delayed the proactive plan. As a result, the store's compressors and fan motors failed in September 2023, requiring a more expensive reactive replacement. Further budget limitations caused another delay, leaving the store uncomfortable for the employees and customers alike, until the repairs were finally finished in January 2024. 

Do not let this be your store - make sure your HVAC-R is ready for the summer heat and crowds!

So, take control of your summer and make your convenience store the destination of choice when the temperatures soar. Beat the heat, not your budget!


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