There are over 100,000 gas stations, both privately owned and franchised, in the United States. Even with alternative fuel vehicles getting up to 55 miles per gallon, gas stations aren’t going away any time soon. With purchase prices sometimes as low as $70,000, and the opportunity for healthy profits, purchasing a gas station can be an attractive business opportunity. If you’re thinking about getting into the business, we have 4 great tips to help simplify the management of your gas station and help you choose and run a successful convenience store business.
Scout Out Location Options
If you’re interested in purchasing a gas station, visit the store as a customer. See what works and what doesn’t? Is the card machine down? Are the bathrooms in working order? It’s always a good idea to monitor traffic levels at different times throughout the day. One busy period may not be enough to make up for slow business the rest of the day. Ideally, your potential location will have steady business and a very short list of items that need to be fixed. Additionally, before you decide on any location, it’s extremely important to know if that gas station complies with US EPA regulations.
Know Your Shoppers
It’s been a few years since Cole & Weber’s study gave us the four types of convenience store shoppers, but their research still rings true. Based on your location, you could see one or all four of these types of shoppers. Knowing who walks through your doors is key to perfecting your inventory.
- Jones: A “Mr. Jones” is your regular. He/she comes in frequently for their favorite brand of cigarette, sports drink, lotto ticket, you name it. They know what they want and aren’t there to dilly dally, but you can always count on them to be back.
- The Neighbor: Like Norm, “Neighbors” like to go where everybody know their name. They take being a regular one step further. These customers are likely to be on a first-name basis with your clerks. A trip to your convenience store is more than quick stop on the way home, it’s a daily ritual where they feel and enjoy a sense of community.
- The Last Minute Shopper: We have all been the “Last Minute Shopper.” Heading to a party and need a bottle of wine? Need milk to finish dinner tonight? The Last Minute Shopper is laser focused on what they need. Earning their business is another perk of owning a convenience store near neighborhoods and workplaces.
- The Thrillseeker: “Thrillseekers” will reach for any brand or item that piques their desire for excitement. They will try anything once, so keep them intrigued! Staying current on consumer trends is an important part of appealing to Thrillseekers.
Choose The Right Back Office Software
Let me throw a few key phrases at you. Fuel station management, convenience store inventory, pricebook management, general ledger management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, HR / payroll, fixed assets… overwhelmed yet? The sheer amount of management that goes into operating a convenience store is enough to make any new business owner’s head spin. Luckily, there are several great options for convenience store back office software to simplify and expedite your accounting and management processes. Whether you have a standalone store or manage multiple gas stations, there are both onsite and cloud software solutions that will make your life easier. We recommend you check those out if you are looking to get into the convenience store business – it may just make your life a little easier from the get-go.
Cultivate Vendor Relationships
Once you’ve found your location, identified the types of shoppers who frequent the store and purchased a user-friendly convenience store back office software, you may decide to start your new journey as a convenience store owner. One step you can’t afford to skip is speaking with all of the stores current vendors for both retail and fuel. For your convenience store, a healthy relationship with your vendors is the first step in growing your profits. Happy vendors are far more likely to offer deals on pricing, and it is important to continue stocking the items that bring in your regulars.
Best of luck to you with your convenience store quest!