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Somerfield works on helping the disabled

01 July, 2005
Page 12 
Somerfield is looking to make its forecourt stores more accessible for disabled people by trialling ServiceCall, a system that enables disabled customers to request service from within their vehicle.
With ServiceCall retailers can make their premises comply with Disability Discrimination Act regulations where expensive building renovations are either an impossibility or not financially viable, according to David Howarth, project manager for Somerfield Stores. He said ServiceCall allowed customers to let the staff know they’re waiting, so they can either be given assistance to get into the building or served from where they are.The system has proved extremely suitable for forecourt stores, where it speeds up the amount of time it takes a disabled motorist to re-fuel, encouraging customer loyalty.“ServiceCall is well known within the disabled community,” said Howarth. “The transmitters are relatively cheap to buy at under £10 and available through the ServiceCall website, so our customers can easily get hold of one, wherever their location.” Somerfield is trialling ServiceCall with a view to installing it across its entire petrol forecourt estate in the future. It currently operates around 40 forecourt stores across the UK, but looks set to increase this number dramatically over the next 12 months through the acquisition of Texaco and Fuelforce sites.Meanwhile, Somerfield has also announced that it is to delay the roll-out of its franchise model to address the key learnings from its trial stores.