Buc-ee’s: Flushing the Competition
Hitting the open road in the Lone Star State means that sometimes, the only bathroom within 30 miles is a pine tree. And even when Texas travelers find a rest stop, they’re likely to be met with grouchy “Paying Customers Only” signs or grimy bathroom keys. So, desperate for reprieve, they’ll make small useless purchases and use loads of hand sanitizer—unless there’s a Buc-ee’s nearby.
Buc-ing the Trend
Road trippers, diapered babies, and bursting bladders are all welcome at Buc-ee’s. The chain has one simple shtick—insanely clean restrooms. Past and present patrons of the New Braunfels, TX location voted it Cinta’s Cleanest Restroom in America for 2012, and the brand was even featured in Texas Monthly magazine for its pristine latrines.
There’s just one catch—holding it. Buc-ee’s trademark buildings look similar to a mall/truck stop hybrid. Their parking lots are massive, with capacity to hold over 500 vehicles. Once inside, guests are met with high ceilings, fluorescent lights, and a stretch of linoleum the size of a football field. The store layout places its restrooms at the back-center, so that guests will have to pass rows of graphic tees, candies, housewares and more before reaching the ‘Restrooms’ sign—a glowing oasis of long-awaited relief.
It’s a dangerous game—watching other rest stops flash by outside while waiting determinedly for a Buc-ee’s. But it’s one Texans play willingly, and the Beaver mascot plays along. Within a particular radius of a Buccee’s location, several lively billboards typically line the busy interstate or highway, encouraging passengers to hold off their bathroom break for fifteen, ten, five more miles. The brand wastes no time on decorum, often plastering punny messages across their signature black backdrop—for example:
In all seriousness, Buc-ee’s is onto something here. Convenience stores are a fairly saturated market, often competing in close quarters. Due to their natural utility as a gas station and rest stop, these chains often slack off in the cleanliness department because they assume their business flow won’t suffer significant losses. Keeping a bathroom presentable is a fairly simple thing. Sadly, it’s rare in the industry. Making space in the company budget to perform a menial task extraordinarily well provides Buccee’s with a deeply rooted brand equity. That’s not the only thing they do well.
Each location hires on-site cooks to churn out hot food and package healthy options such as yogurt parfaits or veggie bowls. They make on-the-road snacking fun with a wide variety of products. From their expansive soda fountain options to their floor-to-ceiling taffy and jerky walls, they have almost anything you would want. These secondary efforts elevate the guest experience and breed return customers.
With Buc-ee’s, you’ll come for the bathrooms and stay for the selection.