Rutter's Cleans Up

Maintaining cleanliness is paramount to customer service for this regional leader
Rutters Farm Store convenience store
Photo by Sofia Bednarik

This was Rutter’s Farm Stores’ first year in the CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop, and it’s off to a sparkling start.

The York, Pa.-based chain of more than 60 stores ranked ­fifth in the mystery shop overall. Helping it place high was its strong cleaning game, beginning with the exterior.

“Cleanliness is built into the culture of this company,” says Jere Matthews, vice president of operations for Rutter’s Farm Stores. “It’s been here since day one.”

Rutter’s placed third in the cleanliness of the fuel islands, and first in having well-maintained garbage cans. All employees do their part: Area supervisors inspect the space during their routine visits, store managers survey the fuel island first thing in the

morning, and employees follow daily task sheets with a detailed cleaning process for each shift.

91.5%

Rutter’s Farm Stores’ overall brand performance in the CSP/Service Intelligence Mystery Shop. The winner, Kwik Trip, scored ­94.6%.

The chain also performed well inside the store, placing first in the cleanliness of its ceilings, with working lights in 100% of the sites visited during the shop. Employees check the lighting in the morning and evening as part of their regular rounds. Long-lasting LED bulbs help keep change-outs few and far between.

Rutter’s has an ambitious foodservice program, which makes cleanliness crucial. Foodservice quality-assurance supervisors perform their own routine inspections to standards that Matthews says are higher than the state’s own. A bonus program awards stores that score above a certain ­figure, and locations with the highest average for internal inspections also receive an award. Store and restaurant managers for sites with the highest averages get to attend that year’s NACS Show.

“Customer service is not just being friendly to the customer,” says Matthews. “Really, customer service is the whole customer experience, and that includes cleanliness.”

The mystery shop was conducted from May 12 to June 16, 2016. This year, the audits took place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. any day of the week. Following each visit, mystery shoppers completed a survey in which each response received equal value.