Drivers all over the world, from private car owners to bus operators, need fuels for their vehicles. With that in mind, we can all agree that investing in a gas station business is one of the best ways to gain profit.
However, opening and running a fuel filling station effectively may require advanced knowledge and skills. If you’re planning to open a gas station, here 10 handy tips to keep in mind.
1. Make a solid business plan
Let’s state the obvious: you need to come up with a solid business plan. A smart business plan may include the following:
- Are you going to be part of a franchise agreement
- Include a description of your services, amenities, and products (car wash, air stations, vacuum stations, and more)
- The number of restrooms you’ll have
- The type of food your convenience store will sell
- The analysis of the local market and competition
- The location of similar businesses and how your business will do well in the competition
- A detailed plan of your organization and management: who will be managing the station and the inventory?
- Advertising and marketing strategies
- A detailed budget of the start-up costs, including the expenses of running day-to-day operations, franchise fees, costs of gas contracts, and property costs.
2. Comply with the requirements
Unlike low-risk businesses, like food and retail, fueling stations come with a bunch of local restrictions and fees you need to understand and comply with. Of course, these can vary by country and state. You should also get the necessary insurance policies and permits to cover for possible injuries, damages, and lawsuits.
It’s also a must to research the history of the site you’re planning to use. If you’re buying an existing gas station, check for any spills that occurred in the past to avoid any future complications.
3. Obtain a gas supplier contact
Who’s going to supply your gas? Research different companies to determine the best gas supplier for your station.
Before signing a supplier contract, which specifies that the supplier will earn a percentage of your gas sales, learn more about their history, past and previous clients, and how their bulk fuel delivery services work. Choose the company that will offer you the most profit on your fuel.
4. Open a gas station in an area that needs one
Do your research. You might want to avoid opening a station in an area that’s already filled with gas stations, especially if they’re owned by bigger competitors.
Look into areas with a lot of growth, including major cities, business districts, and growing neighborhoods. You’re also likely to get more customers if you’re accessible. Consider placing your station along a major route to work, and in an area that’s convenient in terms of traffic patterns. You can also invest in advertising signage to draw in more customers.
5. Research current and future construction projects
Another tip when choosing your location: don’t situate your business along a route affected by long-term construction. Chances are that customers will try to avoid highways and roads with heavy traffic congestion brought by a major construction.
6. The more pumps the better
We are all busy humans – no one likes to wait, especially for a commodity like a car fuel. The faster you can have your customers in and out, the happier they will be.
7. Establish regular hours of operations
Determine the busiest traffic times. If none of the other nearby gas stations are open ‘til midnight, consider having late hours. You may also think about becoming a 24-hour gas station if the roads are still busy after midnight.
Lastly, make sure you open promptly at your chosen time.
8. Hire reliable employees
You’ll want to hire employees who are punctual, hardworking, and reliable. Teach them about safety precautions when storing and handling gasoline. All employees should also be willing to be trained in handling fire and other related catastrophes.
Schedule employee shifts to provide sufficient coverage for the gas station’s customer traffic. Lastly, make sure to have a responsible store manager on duty for all the shifts.
9. Take inventory on a day-to-day basis
Running a gas station can be such a daunting task. You need to do the following tasks regularly:
- Inventory your gas station’s tank amounts, as well as the convenience store sales such as money orders and lottery.
- Consider your supplier’s processing time and diesel fuel delivery methods when preparing your orders. Report any inaccuracies and delays so that immediate corrections can be made.
- Run inventory orders and cash register reports in a timely matter each business day.
- It’s also important to empty your drop safes at the end of the day and deposit cash to the bank.
10. Think about the safety of your employees
Aside from the dangers of handling gasoline, gas stations can also encounter major catastrophes like accidents and theft.
To ensure the safety of your employees, establish relationships with the local police authority. Make sure to install a 24-hour security system with cameras in your station. Limit the amounts of cash in your registers and install shatterproof glass windows too.
11. Provide valuable items and amenities other than fuel
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes – what are the things you’ll likely need in the middle of a road trip? You might need to go to the restroom, buy snacks, soda, booze, and cigarettes, and caffeinate yourself. Perhaps you need to inflate the tires, quick-clean the glasses, or buy automotive supplies.
That said, offering a clean restroom, reliable car services, and partnering with food franchises and convenience stores, would make your gas station more favorable.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a daytime writer for Refuelling Solutions, a fuel management company, offering small and large scale diesel fuel delivery, logistics, information, and analysis to keep their client’s business moving. Writing about business and logistics is her cup of tea.