Starting your own business is always a challenging task and opening a gas station is no less. Theoretically, as long as there are fuel fired automobiles, there will be demand for gas stations. However, there are many other factors that have to be assessed before starting one and we have taken up these important aspects for consideration.
Decide on the site based on the population (and density) of the community, the access to other stations, the traffic seen and the closest competition. Do site checks (for a new station, an environmental study is a must) and get opinions from local authorities&experienced hands in the industry as far as possible. There are federal and local government departments which support entrepreneurs with information, like the site US Business Advisor.
Plan the design and layout of the station keeping in mind accessibility, safety, ergonomics, marketing and statutory considerations .The local jurisdiction guidelines will also provide a framework.
Draw up a detailed Business Plan covering market research and analysis, sales strategy&forecast, financials putting down all aspects of financing, the financiers, the proportion of investment, cash flow, costs, crime insurance, incentives, payroll and personnel costs, break-even analysis and personnel. Discuss the potential of adding on utilities to the gas station like a convenience store, a pay-and-use car wash area, etc.
Review and collect pertinent information from journals and statistics issued by relevant authorities and websites. The Petroleum Equipment Institute releases documents that contain recommended practices on installation, inspection, maintenance in the fuel station, etc.
Select the corporate whose dealership you would like to take. Have discussions with representatives of shortlisted ones, review and match the dealership criteria, examine the legal aspects with your lawyers and draft a contract for the relationship.
Obtain a Crime Prevention Kit from your local police station.
Be aware of regulations&resultant responsibilities and ensure compliance .This would include obtaining the following certifications and licenses:
- Gasoline and Motive Fuel Retailer's Licence
- Propane Plant Operator Licence
- Petroleum Storage Site Licence
- Music Licence
- 2.8 Boiler and Pressure Vessel - Certificate of Inspection, Ozone Depleting Substances Permit, Weights and Measures of Products
- Petroleum Products - plans submission, protection of Personal Information: your responsibilities, registration at the local fire station
- Where other incentives such as a convenience store are also part of the plan, obtain a Food Service Establishment Licence, Tobacco Retailer's Licence, etc as applicable
Enrol for membership in the relevant merchants' associations as they are platforms where ideas and information are exchanged; represent the interest of the members, etc.
Have a marketing plan for the inauguration, the prime objective of which should be to create awareness and to attract customers. Advertise in the local daily, online, at the local market boards, distribute flyers around and consider opening day purchase incentives.
Online business administration courses can help you keep your business practices running smoothly. Planning well and having a complete awareness of your goals, strengths and limitations, will give the right impetus to your business. Full steam ahead!