Gas stations and convenience stores (or c-stores) are a thriving industry and have been a fixture on the American scene since 1927. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), there are more than 121,000 c-store locations operating in the United States, bringing in $242.2 billion from inside sales and another $412.1 billion from fuel sales.
Competition is fierce and continues to heat up each year. If you’re looking at how to start a gas station, or you’re trying to improve how to operate a gas station, check out these best practices to help maximize your growth potential:
Prioritize Shrinkage Reduction
Shrinkage, or financial losses caused by theft, damage, or other human actions, can have a significant impact on your bottom line. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that shrinkage costs retailers at least 1.33% of sales.
If you want to maximize profitability in 2021 and beyond, shrinkage reduction must become a priority. According to the Global Retail Theft Barometer, the leading source of shrinkage in the U.S. is employee theft of cash or goods, accounting for 45% of losses. Other sources of shrinkage include:
- Administrative error and non-crime loss—13%
- Vendor/supplier fraud—6%
As you can see, it’s crucial to find a quality fuel station management system that integrates with your point of sale (POS) to give you increased visibility and better operational control. The right loss prevention software can identify high-risk transactions such as voids or “no-sales” and compare them with video data to provide verifiable proof when theft occurs. Not only does it help you spot problems, but the knowledge that you’re using it can be a deterrent itself.
Analyze Customer Data
Customers volunteer an immense amount of data about their purchases — there’s a veritable gold mine of information available to you for various purposes from your POS and back-office systems. Using this data, you can create personalized and targeted marketing campaigns that will be more effective than a generic offer — and that will only improve your bottom line.
Additionally, you’ll better understand what items different demographic groups are purchasing to help you decide what to stock. Plus, you can strengthen your loyalty program by offering the rewards that will most appeal to your customers.
Tip: Improved marketing and increased loyalty based on customer preferences lead to higher sales, increased profits, and overall business success.
Improve Inventory Management
Inventory control is one of the most complex and cost-driven aspects of managing any business — and that’s especially true for c-stores and gas stations. Run out of a popular item, and you disappoint customers who will take their business elsewhere. Stock too much of something that isn’t selling, and it could spoil on your shelves, or at the very least, take up valuable space you should use for better-selling merchandise.
Solution: Every gas station and c-store needs an effective inventory management system. The right solution will work with your POS data to track how well items are selling, helping you make more informed buying decisions. And it should alert you when it’s time to re-order products that you need to ensure you’re never caught short-handed.
Use Effective Employee Management and Training
Even with a perfect balance of inventory, your c-store or gas station will not succeed without reliable, effective employees. Your POS solution should include labor management for optimal scheduling, so you’re never short-staffed (potentially losing sales to impatient customers), or over-staffed (and paying too much in labor costs).
Don’t overlook: Good leadership is an essential part of c-store and gas station management. When you treat employees well and give them ongoing training and support, they will be motivated to do their best. And that will ultimately lead to positive experiences for your customers.
Choose the Best Software in the Business
Did you know that there’s currently a 40% industry decline in sales of tobacco and cigarettes? What are you doing to replace those lost sales?
If you haven’t yet implemented made-to-order foodservice, now’s the time. Not only will you boost sales and profitability in 2021 and beyond, but you’ll provide a better customer experience and grow your loyal customer base.
Smart idea: The right technology makes it easy to improve all aspects of c-store and gas station management. Petrosoft is your ally in achieving success in 2021 and beyond. To find out more about how our industry-specific solutions can maximize your efficiencies and grow your profits, contact Petrosoft today.