Why am I posing with the Buc-ee’s beaver? Because this local business in Lake Jackson, Texas has succeeded at what every business aspires to. Viral marketing has taken hold and created widespread brand awareness at the local, state and national level.
Today, Texas drivers will go out of their way to visit Buc-ee’s, passing other gas stations because Buc-ee’s is known for ….sparkling clean bathrooms. At Buc-ee’s, you never have to worry about whether there might be toilet paper or – ugh – that the last customer forgot to flush.
Buc-ee’s inspires their customers to insist on stopping there, even when it’s more convenient to stop somewhere else. Every time this happens, brand awareness grows and it’s viral effect spreads.
My first visit to Buc-ee’s was just last year. The driver on this road trip is a Buc-ee’s evangelist. For miles, he extolled their virtues, but I didn’t really understand until I walked in the door.
Of course, the approach is pretty impressive, especially after covering the long miles from Dallas to the first Buc-ee’s along our route. However, like many other Texas travelers before me, I found out that it’s worth the wait.
As I walked in the door, I was enthusiastically greeted by several check-out clerks. Welcome to Buc-ees, they chimed. Buc-ee’s doesn’t have dedicated greeters, but the people behind the cash registers were more than equal to the task. Buc-ee’s decided to use their staff where it really counts: in the toilets.
The leader of our expedition gave us a quick tour of the delights offered by Buc-ee’s, culminating in the experience that put Buc-ee’s on the map. The restrooms are, quite literally, world-class. Each stall comes equipped with an ample supply of paper and a filled hand sanitizer dispenser. Not only that, each toilet is sparkling clean. Mind you, these are not “stalls” like you find in most commercial bathrooms. Each unit is equipped with a real door. Better yet, each one is checked as soon as the occupant exits by attendants whose job is to keep the area spotless. They are constantly wiping the sinks, checking and flushing the toilets and restocking supplies. There is no paper on the floor or an empty soap dispenser at Buc-ee’s!
But wait – there’s more! Roadside convenience stores have upped their food game in recent years, but Buc-ee’s has really raised the bar. They have the usual coffee stations and soda fountains, but they also have hot nuts, their own private label meats, a line of jerky that is not limited to beef, and computer screens where you can custom order your sandwich. Hungry for dessert? Then there’s a bakery, a homemade fudge counter and Dippin’ Dots frozen treats.
Even I, a quasi-vegetarian and sort of healthy eater, found something that suited me. I was thrilled to find a hummus and carrot stick combo and a nice cup of mixed fruit for the road.
Buc-ee’s owners investment in time and effort has not been wasted. The brand is growing by leaps and bounds, expanding as the population of Texas grows. Regional expansion is underway, with stores currently under construction in Alabama and Florida.
Their commitment to excellence has lead to many mentions in the local press as well as a story on a national broadcast by ABC News. This is in addition to the thousands of Facebook Fans and YouTube videos posted by enthusiastic customers chronicling their introduction of friends to the joy of Buc-ee’s.
Count me in! Shortly after my introduction to Buc-ee’s, I was on another road trip down I-35 with another group of friends. The time came when we needed gas and a break.
Wait! I said, there’s a Buc-ee’s just a few exits away! And so it goes as another convert is made.