Choosing the right fuel retail brand to fly
The right brand can make or break a gas station.
A strong brand can benefit a fuel retailer’s profitability by helping to attract, and keep, customers. Flying a major brand allows you to take full advantage of the public perception that they’ve built up over time, and the marketing and promotion that they do on a daily basis, to ultimately drive more people to your site.
Consumers have a preconceived idea of the type of service they’ll get from a particular brand. Major brands do a great job of sharing their values – and when those values resonate with consumers, they create a loyal customer base.
To fly a major banner, you’ll be required to uphold their brand values. It’s important to fly a brand whose ideals align with your own. The values for all of the major brands are easily accessible on their websites. Reading through each of them will help you to determine:
- Do you have the same stance on environmental protection?
- Do you have the same expectation of your staff?
- Does your long-term plan align?
Find the brand that is the best fit for you as it’s far easier to uphold brand values that are similar to your own personal principles and standards.
The major brands offer different types of loyalty schemes and reward programs. Some offer instant discounts on every gallon of gas bought, while others work on points systems, allowing customers to build up points in your store and redeem them against the cost of fuel. Some major brands have teamed up with other retailers and restaurants to allow your customers to earn points from multiple places. These schemes bring immediate value to gas station owners who can benefit from a following of loyal customers that keep coming back time after time.
Consumers want to buy from companies they trust. A strong brand gives your gas station credibility and gives customers peace of mind when purchasing from you.
But there are pros and cons to all the major brands, and you need to understand which is the best fit for your gas station.
In many cases, you’ll need to demonstrate that your facilities and service is up to scratch. Some major brands have strict criteria and regularly spot check branded sites with mystery shoppers to make sure they meet expectations. Before choosing which brand to fly, you need to be realistic about what you can and can’t live up to.
Differentiation is difficult when flying an established gas brand. By its very nature, all sites and facilities that fly the same brand should be standardized, and all should offer the same level of service. Local business owners are therefore restricted and unable to differentiate their sites from other branded stations in the area, and if differentiation is important to you, you may want to consider an unbranded offering.
Approaching a major brand
You need to have done your homework before reaching out to any of the major brands.
“Before you approach any company the size of the energy majors, including Shell, for business opportunities – Do Your Homework. Be a subject matter expert to the extent that you can talk in specifics about how your product or service can fill an important need, or improve efficiency, or help meet our environmental standards. Be ready to tell us where you fit and what you have to offer to improve our business.”
You’ll need to know the ins and outs of your proposed business, including how your site compares to the competition, whether you’ll cannibalize volume from other branded sites in the local area, and your expected gas throughput volumes.
If you impress the oil majors, you can then start negotiating on your deal.
How to choose the best deal
If you’re lucky enough to get deals from multiple oil brands, it’s important not to be dazzled by the cheapest deal on the table. You need to understand how the decision you make today could affect your volumes and potential profits in the future.
Identifying the characteristics of your location, the products and services you plan to provide, and the market demographics in your area can help you to determine the optimum brand. But that’s not always an easy task, the impact of brand can be hard to predict.
A gas station feasibility study, like Kalibrate’s Single Site Analysis can give you the data you need to choose the best brand based on numerous variables unique to your site.
The report provides you with different fuel volume projections for different brands. You can review what’s being offered by each brand and use the volume projections to assess which is best for each gas station, not just for today — but the best decisions for the future, based on the identified characteristics of your particular site.
Gaby Jabbour, a gas station owner from Southern California, relies on the Single Site Analysis reports to understand how different brands affect his volume projections.
“The impact of brand is very difficult to project. Without these Single Site Analysis reports there is a lot of vital data that just wouldn’t be easily accessible to me.”
Gaby has also used the Single Site Analysis to assess whether to rebrand one of his existing gas stations. Read more about his experience here.
If you’re assessing which brand to fly at your gas station, or are planning on approaching a major oil company, let us help you prepare.
A Single Site Analysis will allow you to test multiple scenarios to understand which site characteristics will maximize volume potential.
Show the majors that you’ve done your homework with future volume projections, competitor analysis, and cannibalization rates. And most importantly, understand which offer to take to get the best outcome for you and your business.
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