Subscribe now to Forecourt Trader Magazine
  • Forecourt Trader
Final countdown

As we prepare to launch the Forecourt Trader Awards for 2018 in next month's issue, we complete our review of the amazing winners at last year's competition


Best Oil company initiative winner

shell: From a very competitive entry list, Shell was unanimously judged to have the Best Oil Company Initiative. The company's marketing manager Michael Homminick was presented with the award for its fuelService app.
Fuelling the car has long been a challenge for disabled drivers, but last year it became easier for anyone using a Shell service station, following its launch.
FuelService is a smart solution to the problems that can occur when disabled drivers attempt to refuel. Petrol forecourts can only help disabled drivers refuel when they have more than one attendant working. It is common for disabled drivers to have to drive from site to site to find help. The other problem is that drivers have to embarrass themselves by beeping the horn, flashing their lights and waving their blue badge about. If the station can't help, they have no way of telling the driver as they can't leave the shop to do so.
FuelService is designed to solve all these challenges by using a smartphone app or an interactive phone call to an automated system. First the disabled driver is able to locate the nearest Shell service station and make contact to see if staff can help. On arrival at the station, the app alerts staff with the pump number. It then allows staff to inform the driver how long the wait is before they can come out to help you. It also integrates with Shell's Fill-up & Go app, so a customer can pay. The app was created in partnership with a non-profit company called Fuel Service.


Best Oil company initiative Highly commended

certas energy: The company's head of dealer performance, Jenny Lockwood, was delighted to accept the Highly Commended award for Oil Company Initiative.
The company's entry focused on its achievments over the past five years, in which it re-established Gulf as a leading UK forecourt brand, committed to becoming a UK top-four fuel supplier. In its submission, former retail director Ramsay MacDonald spoke about the Gulf brand positioning itself as the champion of the independent, the only nationwide supplier, and the first choice alternative to the majors.
In 2017 Certas Energy invested heavily to restate the Gulf brand values of quality, endurance and passion, and differentiate Gulf from its competitors," said MacDonald. "Integral to this is the brand development programme, designed to take a globally renowned brand and shape its relevance for today's motorists of all ages and across every socio-economic group."
The brand development programme comprises three pillars: forecourt image and presentation; the dealer offer pragmatism and partnership backed by personal service; marketing and sponsorship.
There are now around 500 Gulf-branded forecourts in the UK and, through acquisition and an ongoing programme of investment, Certas Energy is targeting continued growth by continuing to increase its appeal to the major dealer groups and the UK's motoring public.


best motorway services outlet winner

applegreen m1 lisburn: This site was designed to be "bigger and better" than anything Applegreen had done before and it certainly wowed the judges as it not only picked up the Best Motorway Services Award but also walked away with the overall Forecourt Trader of the Year 2017 trophy.
While escalators and lifts are commonplace in many high street stores, Applegreen believes the addition of one at M1 Lisburn is a 'game changer' in forecourt convenience. Its presence opens the upper level up to all customers regardless of age or ability, and the upstairs has been designed to be an 'oasis of comfort' for tired drivers. Half of the upstairs area is dedicated to the Applegreen Lounge, created when the company identified a customer need for an area within the services where people could meet safely, close to the motorway. It is designed to be discreet, comfortable and functional. The lounge is sub-divided into an informal rest area and a number of meeting spaces. Use of the lounge, charging points and wifi are all free.
The remaining mezzanine area forms the Lavazza Coffee Bar. This is described as 'a pioneering new concept designed and led by Applegreen', partnering with Lavazza.
Applegreen M1 Lisburn is home to six food offers in total: Greggs, Lavazza, Burger King, Subway, Chopstix and The Bakewell, which is Applegreen's own brand. Applegreen reports that the new addition of Greggs in Northern Ireland is proving to be a huge success.


special recognition award winner

ken kay: The Kay Group's Ken Kay started his forecourt business ELMTC Ltd way back in 1972 with the Intack Service Station in Blackburn. Intack Self Drive (rental vehicles) was established later that year and is today Blackburn's largest vehicle rental company, with more than 300 vehicles. Today's Ken's business is, of course, known as The Kay Group (UK) Ltd and it is one of the North West's leading petrol retailers with 18 high-volume, 24-hour sites, all with convenience stores, car wash facilities and free-to-use ATMs.
Shell, Texaco and Spar are the company's principal suppliers along with Costa, Greggs, Pizza Hut and Subway. Ken has just opened Irlam Gateway with the UK's (and the world's) first Greggs Drive-Thru. The group employs over 250 personnel and provides a local-based service to over 140,000 customers a week.
After all these years, Ken continues to invest his profits into the petroleum retailing industry with a string of innovative new-to-industry locations and more planned, including Castlewood Sutton Ashfield and Barnsley.
Ken's innovation further extends to tailored fuel marketing and promotional activity, which is particularly advantageous in promoting new-to-industry sites.
Despite approaches in the current climate to sell up, Ken says he has no intention of retiring and has high hopes of seeing it through to the demise of fossil fuel or to when he becomes a fossil himself!


best site manager: joanne walker Winner

joanne walker: In every area, Joanne believes in leading by example. "I don't expect any team member to do something I wouldn't do and similarly I hope they will mirror the good things," she explains. Joanne coaches her team on the shopfloor in engaging with customers, saying things like: 'Have you found everything you're looking for?' or 'Can I help you find something?' "Then it is vital to follow through and take the customer to the product, show the range, recommend a good brand or what is good value and highlight the offers," explains Joanne, "Finishing the conversation with 'Let me know if you need anything'."
She also encourages excellence by challenging the team to perform well in the monthly Mystery Shop results. "These are displayed on our Team Communication Board and it goes without saying we are all keen to see a great result."


best soft drinks outlet: idris patel winner

idris patel: Soft drinks account for a major percentage of sales at Woodman Service Station in Leeds, with between 400-500 units sold every day. They occupy a full wall of neat glass door chillers, a chill island and are also merchandised in ambient stacks around the store to maximise sales opportunities.
The department spans all the leading brands and sub-categories, and is merchandised using planograms with regular merchandising support from Coca Cola. Idris says the company's reps help ensure that soft drinks are easy and convenient to shop within the store, therefore helping the business make the most of this key category.
The well-maintained services consist of a new-format Nisa Local store, 24-hour Starbucks drive-thru, the latest Shell branding and state-of-the-art Gilbarco pumps.


best valeting facilities winner

Mohan yogaraj: Mohan says forecourt facilities are a key factor for customer visits to the MFG Skyway site. "Our services are provided within a landscaped, well laid out, dedicated area of the forecourt," he says. "Our equipment is meticulously maintained and diligently checked for quality of service."
The site provides comprehensive valeting services including an innovative roll-over car wash with multiple wash programmes, backed up with a permanent mid-week, half-price promotion on all wash programmes. There are two jet wash bays with a 'buy time' facility so customers can tailor their wash to their specific vehicle.
In addition there are air, water, vacuum and screenwash services so customers can get their vehicle fit for
the road all within the same area of the forecourt.


As the smaller/family owned independent forecourt businesses continue to be acquired by the big operators, do you think now could be the right time for you to sell up?