Increased repair and fuel options, healthy food offerings are seen as differentiators
As independent fuel retailers wrestle with fuel prices that offer only pennies on the dollar in profit, station owners are trying to boost the bottom line with specialty products in their attached convenience stores and at the pump — and by offering service, says a recent article in the Denver Post.
“It has always been nip and tuck for these guys,” Mark Larson, executive director of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, told the publication. “The independent guy really does have a tough nut to crack.”
Larson attributes much of the slowdown in gasoline sales to better-built cars and fuel-efficiency standards. It is a plus for the driving consumer, but it decreases the amount of gas that independents sell and the repair work that they do.
To counterbalance the slowing fuel sales, independent owners must branch out to draw in customers — whether by selling foods, snacks and beverages or by filling service niches. A big push now is on fresh and healthy foods. “We are seeing more and more of our (members) looking at what they can offer consumers along health lines and keeping it in a convenience framework,” Larson told the Denver Post.
Other stations hope to differentiate themselves — and profit by offering extensive repair services or diversifying the type of fuels they offer.