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The First Thing A Customer Sees

Tornado Industries

Proper floor care can provide a welcoming message to customers

Convenience store owners and managers spend ample time focusing on their stores' displays. They want to place frequently purchased items, sale items, discounted goods and advertising materials in strategic store areas so customers immediately notice them when entering the facility. However, regardless of prominent displays, customers are likely to notice another area of the store first — the floor.

A savvy storeowner can use a well-kept floor to provide a long-lasting, positive impression. A clean, high-gloss, well-maintained floor welcomes customers as it helps ensure safety, while a soiled, unkempt floor can indicate quite the opposite.

Along with improving customer impressions and promoting safety, proper maintenance of convenience store floors also protects the investment made in the floors. Nothing destroys a floor more than embedded soil and grit.

But floor care in a convenience store location can be difficult, and cleaners may encounter unique challenges. For example, inclement weather and significant foot traffic can damage floors and present hazards. Rain, snow and mud are often "walked-in" to a convenience store on the bottoms of customer shoes, and regardless of the weather, these store floors are often prone to food and beverage spills, such as eggs, coffee, soda and milk.

Making matters worse, most convenience stores are open long hours — many 24 hours, seven days per week. Not only does this mean customers are walking in and out of the store location throughout the day, but addressing floor care needs, spills and problems on an ongoing basis can be difficult.

However, through good planning, convenience store owners and managers can keep their floors in relatively good, if not excellent, condition. Therefore, implementing a sound floor care program can be a very wise investment on several counts.


Someone once said a dream is a goal without legs — it can be nice to have, but unless you give it some support, it will likely never materialize.

The same is true for a floor care program without a written plan. Writing out a floor care program formalizes the task. It outlines floor care tasks and frequencies, and the program is easier to enforce and implement.

A written floor care plan for a convenience store might include floor care tasks such as:

  • Making sure matting systems are in place at all key entries — 10 to 15 feet of high-performance matting is best.
  • Sweep the floor. This may need to be done two or three times per day, depending on traffic.
  • Mop the floor one to three times daily, as needed. If the store is open, workers must use a very dry mop to help prevent accidents. Also, the mop and bucket/solution tank should be changed frequently and definitely after every use.
  • Machine scrub the floor with an automatic scrubber. Frequency can vary from weekly, bi-monthly or monthly, based on store traffic.
  • Strip and refinish the floor annually or, if not possible, every other year.

Additionally, the use of an automatic scrubber to scrub-clean floors will help remove embedded soils in tiles and grout, while ensuring a healthy floor care program is in place. An automatic scrubber is designed to apply a cleaning agent to a floor, scrub the floor, and then "recover" or remove the solution, along with soils and contaminants, all in one pass. The machines were introduced roughly 50 years ago, and have dramatically changed floor care maintenance because an automatic scrubber can reach deep into a floor's pores and grout areas, removing soils and contaminants that sweeping or mopping cannot reach.

However, there is a problem with automatic scrubbers, and it is likely the reason many convenience stores and similar retail facilities do not use them. Many systems are quite large and simply too big to scrub the store's aisles or perform effectively in tight, confined areas. However, new technologies have made automatic scrubbers much smaller, compact and easier to use in such settings.

Convenience store owners and managers should look for automatic scrubbers that are termed "world class" floor machines. This means the machine is designed to work on a wide variety of floors and meet specific standards of quality craftsmanship, durability, versatility and comfort for all users.

For a typical convenience store, a machine with a 14-inch cleaning path would be an ideal size. This is well-suited for a convenience store's aisles. Also, the machine should have a low profile so it can clean under tables and display counters. And some units are now available that are foldable, requiring minimal room for storage and transportation.


Convenience store owners, managers and staff can likely handle these floor care methods in-house, but stripping and refinishing is a complex and labor-intensive process. As a result, a cleaning professional who is adequately trained to perform these tasks should be called upon.

However, there are ways refinishing can be delayed. Extending these cleaning cycles can be a significant cost savings, and because so many chemicals and products are used that are potentially harmful, it helps protect the environment and users as well. In some cases, floors that were refinished as often as two or three times per year are now refinished every other year and even longer.

Convenience stores can prolong refinishing cycles with proper routine maintenance, training and high-performing products. Documentation and monitoring of the floor care program and use of a compact automatic floor scrubber are also key to a long-lasting, healthy shine. Although eye-catching displays are important to a store's success, attractive floors that "welcome" customers can lead the way.

Although eye-catching displays are important to a store's success, attractive floors that "welcome" customers can lead the way.

Mike Schaffer is president of Tornado Industries, a manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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