One of the most competitive and widely-profitable storefronts is the gas station. The gas station is a sight for sore eyes after a long drive on the turnpike and it can be a saving grace for travelers looking to re-fuel their bodies and vehicles during a long road trip. However, gaining a competitive edge over other gas stations in the area can be difficult, especially if you are operating in a metropolitan area with a dense population and a large number of competing gas stations. In order to boost your gas station sales and set yourself apart from other gas providers, you’ll need to offer cheap rates, convenient service, and impeccable service to get repeat business.
Your gas station should be the locals’ “favorite” place to go to and there are a few ways that you can go about doing this to boost your gas station sales.
A pay at the pump service – in today’s age – is a given. Gas stations that do not have this service will seldom beat other competing gas stations. People are all about convenience and many customers do not want to enter the store just to pay for their gas (unless they are paying cash). You’ll notice a significant difference in repeat customers if you implement a pay-at-the-pump service.
Offer “Real” Food
Every gas station is going to have candy bars, protein bars, bags of chips, and other easy-to-inventory items around their convenience store. What often sets a gas station apart is if they have hot or cold food selections such as sandwiches, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, fruit cups, salads and other healthy options for a customer looking for lunch on-the-go. If your gas station is located near a turnpike or highway on-ramp or off-ramp, this should be a necessary strategy.
Never Close Before Your Set Hours
Closing your doors at 10:30PM when Google states that your hours are 9AM-11PM will leave a lasting negative impression for customers. It will also leave a sour taste (or no taste!) in their mouth, especially if they are hungry or thirsty. Make it a point to always close your doors when the schedule says that you will. The same goes for opening your store; make sure that the employee responsible for unlocking the store is prompt and reliable! Customers may be relying on your gas station convenience store for their breakfast!
Always Keep Your Food in Stock
This step entails great management and inventory skills. If you notice a particular item selling faster than other products on average, order more of that product every week to keep a steady supply of that item in your inventory. Consistently not having an item on a shelf due to sell-outs or shortages will not do you or your customer any favors. It’s not a bad idea to invest in a gas station point-of-service solution that offers comprehensive inventory and management software. Make sure that your managers are well-versed in the art of inventory control and pre-emptive ordering.
Have Impulse Buys at the Register
Impulse buys are a steady and significant source of profit for many businesses, including grocery stores, retail fronts, and gas stations. According to a study from CNBC, consumers spend an average of $5,400 a year on impulse buys such as magazines, snacks, gum, cold beverages, and so on. The poll went on to state that nearly 70.5% of these purchases consisted of food or beverage items. Opportunistic purchases are something that any smart business owner simply cannot ignore. Having cold food items such as sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit is a great idea; the same can be said for cold beverages, especially if you live in a hot climate. Consider investing in a display cooler or a countertop cooler to help drive those impulse buys home.
Invest in Attractive Signage
If you have a convenience store attached to your gas station that has something that sets it apart from the competition – such as hot food, cold food items, lottery tickets, etc. – then let ‘em know!!! Prominent and attractive signage around or near your gas station can help attract more customers to your store.
Consider Specialty Non-Food Items
People are willing to pay a premium price for convenience. Some items that people may look for at gas stations include small batteries, car oil, hats, sunglasses, eye drops, contraceptives, lip balm, air fresheners, common car accessories, glue, and other items that people may need for a long drive.
Make Your Gas Station Profitable
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS):
- 2 percent of total industry sales in 2015 were gas sales, but gas only accounted for 39.5 percent of profit dollars.
- Food related items accounted for only 20.8 percent in-store sales but for a much larger portion of profit dollars at 33.7 percent.
These numbers are due to the fact that there is not a huge profit margin when it comes to pumping gas. This is why it is so important to get your customers to enter the store. Impulse buys through countertop coolers, attractive signage to advertise what you are selling , always-stocked food aisles, and pay at the pump services are all key pieces of the profit puzzle.
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