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Taking the initiative

27 February, 2009
In the last of our series, we take a look at the oil company and specialist winners of last year's awards. Linda Harrison reports
Page 27 

== winner Gulf Retail Store Consultancy Programme ==

Gulf Retail's Store Consultancy Programme was the winner of the Oil Company Initiative award. It is designed to support its dealers to help them grow sustainable businesses on and off the forecourt. The shop programme is one of the key elements of the Gulf dealer offering and is proving a winner as its network grows in size and strength.

Keith Jewers, Gulf retail director, says: "In today's economic climate the dealer must be competent in a range of retailer skills including those of the traditional shopkeeper. Similarly, the fuel supplier must be prepared to do everything possible within its scope of operation to enable each dealer to grow a profitable and sustainable business."

According to Jewers, tangible results are all around with some dealers even turning long-term loss-making ventures into profitable businesses bristling with future optimism. For example, he said Newton Hill Garage, situated on the busy A61 in Outwood, Wakefield, switched from Total to Gulf and swiftly saw profits double on cigarettes, and shop turnover rise by around 10,000 per week - with more to come. Meanwhile, fuel volumes are also up by 12%. "It's the tip of the iceberg," explains Gulf's in-store shop consultant Tony Bailey. "They can expect turnover to increase at least another 50% by the year end, and they will be one of many."

Each bespoke programme concentrates on three areas starting with current systems and procedures. This can include stock management, cash controls security pricing and back-office systems.

Then Gulf looks to optimise shop layout and product positioning, rationalising slow-selling lines and introducing planograms and maximising supplier support.

And finally, new opportunities are identified with the introduction of fast-selling profitable lines, national brands and remerchandising.

"It's not rocket science and our objective is always to increase a dealer's profitability for the minimum outlay," says Jewers. "Often a business has evolved around the owner and over time they sometimes lose sight of the potential within the shop.

"Getting it back on a profitable track can create a whole new dynamic to the business and incentivise that dealer into revisiting other aspects of the operation to further boost profits."

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=== highly commended ConocoPhillips Jet - Fuelling the Local Community ===

ConocoPhillips says it focused on communicating locally through its network of dealer sites - a part of the local community for over 50 years of UK trading - for this scheme, reflecting efforts to provide customer benefits way beyond fuel and retailing.

According to the company, people return to Jet service stations because there's a sense of community about them. The Aim-Hi programme, part of the Fuelling the Local Community scheme, measures standards and services, ensuring each Jet site is in first class order. A dealer can be rewarded with up to 2,000 for maintaining the highest standards, covering safety, brand assessment, point of sale and training. Looking to the future, the company's aim is to continue its efforts to encourage customers to return by ensuring a good experience.

The School Run Code, also part of the scheme, revolves around primary schools. Designed to safeguard children arriving at and leaving school and endorsed by road safety charity Brake, it encourages parents and carers to be safe during the school run, parking cars well away from yellow zig-zag markings.

Publicised through Jet's branded network, the campaign features Ziggy and Zaggy - bright yellow robots dedicated to helping everyone follow the School Run Code. During the summer, children in numerous hospitals received activity fun books and Jet sponsored the most recent book, producing a page of Ziggy and Zaggy activities.