If you could design the gas station of your dreams, what would you include? An off-leash dog park, hotel-quality showers, and a pizza vending machine, perhaps? Well you’re in luck – we’re currently testing all those features and more at the new Petro-Canada Cookstown station!

Our Cookstown location in Innisfil, Ont. is an integrated travel centre, which means it includes both a Petro-Canada retail component and a Petro-Pass truck stop on the same site. It has the typical highway centre offerings – a large convenience store, washrooms, a full-size A&W restaurant, and amenities for truckers, such as showers and laundry – but, it also has features being tested to enhance the customer experience. 

“When this site came up in the development queue, it made sense to try to incorporate some new items and revisions to the standard integrated highway offer, given it coincided with a phase of the customer experience work that identified some opportunities,” shares Doug Cleland, Manager, Engineering & Construction. 

Research for the first phases of the customer experience project took more than a year, and most of that time was spent in customer research, engaging with both retail and wholesale customers. This approach was also different from what we have traditionally done, as the team completed ethnographic research with an anthropologist to help us understand the broader context of our consumers’ lives and how fuel fits into them. 

“We had one-on-one interviews and ride-alongs with our wholesale customers and interacted closely with our retail customers – even taking rides with them to gas stations and listening to their thoughts and feelings about fuel,” says Cathy Comeau, Project Leader, Strategy & Development. “All decisions regarding customer experience initiatives were grounded in the voice of our customers, as their needs are the priority.”

A team was formed with representation from across Sales & Marketing to review the customer experience research findings and feedback on trends that are popular at competing sites and in the U.S. From this, the team learned how to better serve the wide range of guests that frequent  our sites. 

The new features include an off-leash fenced dog park, a lounge area accessible by both Petro-Pass and retail guests, the addition of phone-charging receptacles, and hotel-style shower rooms. The team also worked with a wholesale dispenser vendor to develop a system with a warning light visible from the cab of the truck to advise the driver that there is a nozzle that has not been hung up yet. 

“There’s lots of differences to consider between highway centres and regular retail sites,” says Doug. “In regular retail sites, most guests want to get in and out fast. At highway locations, they are often looking to take a break from their trip. Electric vehicle guests spend more time on the site than a fuel guest, so we considered that as well, along with the habits of the Petro-Pass guest in the design.”

off-leash fenced dog park.
The off-leash fenced dog park.

The new shower rooms inside the Petro-Pass section.
The new shower rooms inside the Petro-Pass section.
The lounge area inside the retail portion of the site.
The lounge area inside the retail portion of the site.

The Merchandising team is also testing some other new concepts such as a new queue line arrangement, updated fixture designs, an enhanced recycling offer, free guest Wi-Fi throughout the site, and new food options including a PizzaForno vending machine and Kernels popcorn.

The new merchandisers showing all the food and snacks that petro canada sells
The new merchandisers 
the PizzaForno and Kernels popcorn machines
PizzaForno and Kernels popcorn machines 

“Understanding that our sites are more than just a place to stop and get fuel is important when we think about site design – we want our stations to be the choice for all drivers, and Cookstown will help us get there,” says Cathy.

Suncor is the proud owner of Petro-Canada.