In 2016, there were approximately 111,100 gas stations in the U.S. alone, with a total revenue of over $596,854 million. These establishments are popping up all over the place. Considering these facts, it's fair to say that managing a gas station is anything but easy. Depending on where you live, you may be competing against dozens of other establishments with a solid customer base.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Research your competitors and the local market and then come with a plan to promote your gas station. Consider launching loyalty programs, offering freebies and reward points, staying active on social media and running promotions on a constant basis.
Great Gas Station Ideas
Nowadays, there are gas stations on every street corner. If you own one, you're competing against stand-alone service stations and large establishments like supermarkets and convenience stores that sell gas among other products. In fact, it's estimated that 84 percent of convenience stores provide this service. A sound, well-thought-out marketing plan is crucial to your business success.
Starting this kind of business isn't cheap. Expect to pay at least $550,000 for startup inventory alone. The cost of running a gas station is in the six-figure range. As a business owner, you need to generate enough revenue to cover these costs and survive in the market.
Research your competitors and try to determine what makes them successful. Do they have low prices or run promotions on a constant basis? What other products and services do they offer? Analyze the local market and then come up with a marketing strategy that aligns with your goals and has the potential to increase profits.
Create a Loyalty Program
One way to attract and retain customers is to reward their loyalty. Approximately 61 percent of small business owners say that more than half of their annual revenue comes from repeat buyers. Furthermore, 60 percent of customers will tell others about the brands they are loyal to.
With a loyalty program, you'll not only keep your customers returning but also reduce your expenses. Your existing clients will spread the word about your business on social media and tell their friends about it. This will help you acquire new customers without spending extra on advertising.
Reward loyal customers with freebies, discounts and exclusive offers. For example, you may offer free coffee, discounted rates per gallon or reward points that can be used towards a future purchase.
Launch Your Own App
Managing a gas station can be difficult, especially for newcomers. You may know where to find clients, how to engage them and how to keep them coming back for more. Sure, you could post updates on Facebook and pay for sponsored ads, but these things take time.
Consider hiring a mobile developer to create an app for your gas station. With an app, you'll find it easier to run loyalty programs and track the results of your marketing efforts. Additionally, you could offer rewards exclusively to those who subscribe to your app, keeping them engaged and motivated to buy more.
A mobile app will make your small business stand out from the competition while saving you time. For example, you can inform customers of new offers through the app rather than posting on Facebook or launching advertising campaigns.
Team Up With Other Businesses
One way to gain visibility for your business is to create strategic partnerships. Assess the local market and team up with non-competing companies that provide complementary services. Auto repair shops, grocery stores and car dealerships are just a few examples. Exchange promotional materials and help each other grow.
Let's say you partner up with a local convenience store. Reward your loyal customers with points that can be redeemed for food products. Obviously, your new partner should employ a similar strategy to help your business expand its customer base and gain exposure. Hold one another accountable and seek ways to cross-promote your services in the local community and online. It’s a win-win for both parties.
- Statista: Number of Gasoline Station Establishments in the United States From 2013 to 2016
- Statista: Sales of the Gasoline Station Industry (Naics 447) in the United States From 2008 to 2018
- Credit Donkey: Gas Station Statistics: 23 Interesting Facts
- Profitable Venture: Starting a Gas Station – How Much Does It Cost?
- Manta: Achieving Customer Loyalty
- Marketing Land: Survey Surprise: 90% of Consumers Report Being Brand-Loyal
- Business of Apps: Benefits of a Mobile App – Why You Should Invest
- CStore Pro: Gas and Convenience Store Marketing and Promotion Ideas
- gas station tool image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com