13 December 2023 EV Charging

How roadside EV charging can convert passers-by into customers

Research by SMS found that 71% of UK EV drivers say that past experiences influenced their decision about whether to charge at a particular EV charging location or not. It highlights the need for developers and landlords to install accessible, reliable, and easy-to-use roadside EV charging facilities. Every site is different, requiring a unique solution for that particular location. So, how can you get roadside EV charging right and convert passers-by into customers?

In this article, you’ll learn how to deliver attractive EV charging for EV drivers in a roadside location. Also, why working with a charge point operator (CPO) can help you install the proper EV charging at your roadside business.

The convenience factor is everything for EV drivers

The most important thing to remember is that EV drivers seek convenience. Fuelling the car is necessary, but the convenience factor is the icing on the cake. If an EV driver decides to go to your EV charging station, these factors will come into play:

  • It needs to be close to the main road or motorway. This proximity means that it is easy to access.
  • It must be easily visible or signposted so that drivers know where they are going before they flick the indicator and turn off the road.
  • It needs to be welcoming. Providing amenities such as food or drink makes the location more convenient allowing the driver to have a break whilst they charge.

Whilst charging part way through a journey at the roadside differs from destination charging, it’s increasing in demand. Traditional petrol forecourt stations (PFS) already recognise that change is coming. Shell recently unveiled plans to create “the gas station of the future”. They aim to develop electric-only fuelling stations to cater to the EV market. It’s worth noting when global giants take such steps in their business.

Roadside EV charging: how to capture the attention of EV drivers

Getting into an EV driver’s mind can help create your EV charging site. While EV drivers like the convenience of charging at home, it is sadly not an option for everybody. Roadside EV charging helps to fill in the gaps. It is critical to work with an experienced and knowledgeable CPO to plan your site from design to finish.

You can find out more about the work we do with property developers and landowners by downloading our FREE guide.

Ultimately when an EV driver goes to a charging station, they need to feel safe and be confident that chargers are available and working. Reducing charging anxiety for drivers will help to deliver a much better user experience.

If your charging site can meet all of these expectations, you have a much better chance of those customers coming back again and again. Happy customers, especially happy EV drivers, can’t wait to tell other users of their positive experiences. Pick the right CPO to deliver the right solution for you, and you’ll have an extremely busy location.

How to make your EV Charging site visible

Here are some areas you must consider to make your site visible to passers-by:

  • Ensure the site is well lit so people feel safe and comfortable when using the location.
  • Make sure lighting is sympathetic to your surroundings, your local community doesn’t want high levels of light pollution.
  • Good quality signage from the roadside, let drivers know clearly that there is a charging site close by.
  • If chargers aren’t immediately visible on entry to your site, provide clear directional signage from the entrance.
  • Cleanliness, make sure that between you and the CPO the site is kept clean and tidy, a well-kept site is a welcoming site.
  • Accessibility, provide a generous amount of space for parking, locations should provide extra wide bays for those with mobility needs.

Whilst this may feel like common sense, not all sites have been designed with the above in mind. Safe, secure, and accessible locations are essential factors when designing. Remember, unlike a PFS, most EV charging stations aren’t manned. Sites are being rated by drivers based on these criteria, led by an organisation called  ChargeSafe which undertakes (detailed) nationwide assessments of EV charging locations (140+ points). SMS is an accredited member of ChargeSafe making sure that we prioritise drivers’ security and accessibility needs.

Creating an attractive site for EV drivers

It’s not simply a case of installing high-powered charging into a car park to attract EV drivers who need to charge on route. Drivers will take regular breaks when driving long distances. Providing a seamless customer journey with charging being just one part is critical to success. Whether you are a landowner or developer, making sure you have the right amenities to complement the site can be the difference between success and failure. That’s why partnering with the right CPO will help you to create an attractive, profitable site.

For customers to keep coming back, you must ensure that you make charging as easy as ABC. Can they easily find your site? Can they find the chargers? Is it easy to park a car in the bay? Are the chargers located conveniently to plug a car in? How easy is it to make payment, and can they get something to eat and drink once the car is charging? Getting this right means you’ll have a busy location and more repeat customers.

The importance of user-friendly charging stations

For all EV drivers, the site must be simple to use. If it isn’t and they become frustrated, they will look for another place to charge their car. Additionally, they’ll tell others about their bad experience, and you’ll soon find you have a site that people try to avoid. Pick the right CPO to work with and they’ll ensure you have the following:

  • Accessible charging bays that are inclusive for all.
  • Simple and easy payment options.
  • The cables are easy to use and plugin.
  • There are simple on screen instructions.
  • You feel safe in the car park, even in the evening.

The role of tech in improving customer experience

The technology in the EV charging industry is fast evolving. Whether that is faster charging, alternative ways to pay, improved regulations, higher standards, or greater choice. EV charging is no longer as niche as it once was. We’ve seen new regulations to ensure that contactless payment is mandatory for all public EV charging (on chargers rated above 8kW). Additionally, apps can also be hugely beneficial for drivers, whether helping fleets pay for operational vehicles, accessing discounted charging rates through a membership scheme, or providing journey planning that helps you find the nearest charging location and match charging around your travel.

Building loyalty and repeat business

You want your site to be busy, not just when it opens, but throughout the duration of its operation. Whilst you may see a spike in activity when the site is new, making sure it stays popular is crucial. You’ll be making a long-term commitment with a CPO, and you’ll want to be reassured that they’ll be working with you to ensure it is successful. Co-locating charging with convenient amenities, serving food and drink or a drive-thru can maximise the opportunity as CPOs and retailers can work together to create incentives and loyalty schemes to bring customers back.

Repeat business can deliver long-term profitability for your EV charging site. You might already have loyalty and reward schemes in place integrating EV charging into your existing loyalty programs will be of huge benefit to EV drivers, making the use of chargers on your site, hassle-free. If you haven’t, considered creating a loyalty program for your EV customers, at SMS, we can offer integrating charging into your scheme…

How to start your roadside EV charging business

Installing the right public EV charging points is crucial. Likewise, visibility and accessibility are also essential factors. On top of all this, though, the most important thing to consider is the convenience for EV drivers. Get it right, and you will have repeat business now and increased revenue over time.

At SMS, our strong covenants assure property developers and landowners that they can work with us for the long term. Using our core business model of funding and operating multiple energy assets, we keep running costs down and maximise revenue. We handle everything for you, from beginning to end, so you make more money without any hassle.

Work with us

Ready to work with a commercial partner with significant experience? At SMS, we offer end-to-end EV charging solutions to help you maximise revenue and future-proof your site. Contact us to find out more about our EV roadside charging solutions.