Talking shop with… D. Todd Feller

The president of Enviren Worldwide, Inc. says that there are many reasons for retailers to consider cart sanitation systems.

Grocery Headquarters: Has the recent H1N1 flu epidemic raised awareness of the need for sanitizing carts?
D. Todd Feller:
H1N1 has certainly brought on more concerns. However, awareness of the need for cleaner, safer shopping experiences is increasing daily because of two other factors: First is the increase in cases of food-borne illnesses, which have been on the rise in the last few years. Second, the largest demographic of our population is retirees and pre-retirees who are on medication or have illnesses which lower or weaken their immune systems, making them more susceptible to germs and bacteria.

Why should retailers get involved?
There are multiple reasons retailers should get involved, but I’ll mention the top three:
First, it’s the store’s responsibility to provide safe, clean carts. Right now, most stores pressure wash carts once or twice a year; that’s not enough to keep carts clean and safe. Our systems make it easy and cost-effective to have every shopping cart cleaned as often as after every use.

The second reason would be the environmental part. Enviren’s system is self-contained and is totally environmentally friendly.

The third reason is the marketing opportunity. Having an Enviren Cart Cleansing System in your store shows your customers that you care about their health and safety. More customers will come to your store to shop after you have installed an Enviren system. It also helps retain current customers.

How does the Enviren system impact a store’s costs and operational efficiency?
The way it’s designed, it takes no longer to run carts through our system than it would to simply put them back into the cart-corral area without sanitizing. So there’s no time wasted. As far as costs, in almost every case we’ve seen, the Enviren system actually saves the store money because it eliminates the need for wipes—plus, pressure washing is almost never required. As stated earlier, the system also really makes money for the store by attracting customers and increasing their loyalty.

Talk some more about the system’s environmental benefits.
Being green while staying cost-efficient was one of our top priorities. One reason our system is more eco-friendly than pressure washing and sanitizing wipes is because the Enviren system is totally self-contained. It doesn’t have a drain, and it doesn’t send anything into the storm sewer or run-off systems. Another reason is that no water line is needed. The EnvirenMist solution is placed directly into the system and then applied to the carts. Pressure washing and other systems require a lot of water, which most of us are now trying to conserve.

How does a retailer get started with the Enviren system?
Enviren has three options for stores. You can buy a system outright; the cost varies on the number of units ordered, but to answer directly, if you order just one the cost is $13,000. We also have a three-year or five-year lease-purchase program that has an interest rate of 3.5%, with a dollar buyout at the end. The third program is a monthly rental. Enviren handles servicing the system, so the stores have nothing to worry about. The service cost varies based on the number of carts at a store, but the average is $75 per month, which encompasses all maintenance and operating costs, including formula.

What’s the best setup for installing one of these systems?
Placement of the system can be virtually anywhere, but probably the most effective is inside the vestibule, right by the cart-corral area. This way, every time a cart is returned, it can be run right through and sanitized in seconds. Placement there at the front of the store also lets your customers see what you are doing for them.

How have customers reacted to the Enviren system so far?
The biggest surprise to me has been all of the store managers that have told me how many times a day they’re stopped and thanked by customers for putting in an Enviren system. They’ve told me they never realized this was so important and on the minds of so many customers.

How can retailers let consumers know about their cart sanitation efforts?
Enviren has many ways to inform customers that their carts are clean and safe. We can replace existing handles with our handles, which read: “This cart has been sanitized and cleaned for your family’s safety.” Then there’s the visibility of the Enviren system itself, right in the front where the customers get their carts. We also work with stores on signage in the cart area.

Letting the customers know about the system’s safety and effectiveness goes a long way toward building confidence and establishing loyalty.

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