CRU Awards 2014: Encouraging Charity; Building Loyalty

CHS/Cenex rewards consumers for fostering community (video)

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor

A sampling of thank-you cards received by CHS/Cenex from Tanks of Thanks winners.

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. -- One winner sings the National Anthem at local baseball games, another bakes goodies for senior citizens. And a third has performed free maintenance on his neighbor’s cars and plowed their driveways in winter.

What these people all have in common is a willingness to help in the community, and also, they’ve all been nominated for and earned free gasoline through Cenex’s Tanks of Thanks community celebration program.

Now in its third year, the Cenex program was created to underscore the company’s strong presence in and the remarkable variety of rural communities. Parent company CHS owns and operates 70 convenience stores. Another 1,400 franchised stores fly the Cenex flag, most of them in rural communities.

And in a town like Whitehall, Wisconsin, the “pajama grandma,” who regularly donates pajamas to children in need, is a local hero. In Topeka, Kansas, a teenaged-girl’s volunteer work is an inspiration.

CHS/Cenex convenience stores is the 2014 winner of CSP’s Convenience Retailing Awards of Excellence for charity for Tanks of Thanks. The awards were handed out during the Convenience Retailing University conference in Glendale, Ariz., in January.

Tanks of Thanks embraces this community spirit, rewarding these true stories—big and small—with $50 gift cards to be used on gasoline or anything else sold in Cenex stores.

In the program, anyone can log on to the Cenex Tanks of Thanks website and nominate a neighbor, a store employee or even themselves to be recognized for good deeds big or small. Franchisees are encouraged to make nominations, as well, each guaranteed six winners per year to drive customer loyalty.

Over the past couple of years, about 10,000 people have been nominated, each nomination posted to the Tanks of Thanks website. Randomly selecting 100 nominees each month, Cenex has awarded more than 5,500 people with over $275,000 in free fuel and merchandise.

CHS vice president of marketing Doug Dorfman says it’s tough to quantify the return on investment of such a program, but year-over-year sales are up since the program began. Beyond that, however, he says a $50 gift card is a welcome reward to a consumer in a rural community. And it shows in the responses CHS regularly receives:

  • “I was very excited to be picked. I can’t begin to tell you just how much that card has helped.”
  • “The Cenex station is about 10 miles from where I live, but it was worth the drive.”
  • “Thanks for investing in America with your generous support if Tanks of Thanks.”

On and on the thank yous go as Cenex earns valuable consumer loyalty while Tanks of Thanks enters its third year.

By Steve Holtz, Online News Director & Beverage Editor
View More Articles By Steve Holtz