For the longest time I have always thought the only reason why motorists go to a petrol station is to fill up their car with petrol, and that there isn’t other factors that influence certain preference’s for the consumer to go to a petrol station. However this research task has enlightened me. I gathered my information of what other factors influence a petrol station, by conducting a questionnaire.
The following research task will consist of a context and discussion section, which will give insight what different petrol stations offer.
The methodology will summarise how the questionnaire has been set out and a copy of the questionnaire. The analysis and discussion, can only be done once all questionnaire are filled in. This section consists of 10 graphs which represent the answers for the 10 questions that have been asked from the questionnaire. Lastly with the strategies, there will be a total of 8 strategies which will elaborate on how the petrol station can implement them to broaden the number of customers.
There are approximately 4 600 service stations.
BP (South African), Engen Petroleum, PetroSA, Sasol oil, Shell South Africa and Total South Africa are the main players in South African oil industry. Their purpose is to operate storage terminals and distribution facilities throughout the country. In the manufacturing area, the Sapref refinery, is owned by Shell and BP petrol station and is one of the largest general consumer markets.
It has been proven worldwide that Sasol petrol station is one of the most successful business models, based on its highly effective owner-operator and partnership.
This is stipulated from the Engineering news article
Sasol offers: competitive advantage, commitment, management skills and daily hands on involvement.
Defined outlet as Sasol convenience centres. The petrol sells diesel, 24 hour convenience. Store offers wide range of consumer goods including bread, milk, sweets etc. Customers experience high standard of service and products.
For the external environment Sasol impacts their ability to create value. The external environment has a significant impact on the ability for Sasol to create value for their stakeholder. Key drivers that impact the profitability and business continuing are the oil price, rand and US dollar exchange rate, environmental regulatory requirements and labour market.
African based energy which focuses on refining and marketing of petroleum and the provision of retail convenience service. Through 18 countries Engen has extensive network of service stations. With Engen garage they have incorporated 5 values which is
Engen have managed to create significant amount of opportunities for individuals by creating 9 social investment, which is the Engen and math social schools. In total there is 1500 service stations and 600 quick shops. Engen has a larger service station footprint, in order to attract more customers.
BP petrol station offers BP express stores. The BP express stores open 24 hours a day. It offers a wild Bean Caf?, where you can enjoy cappuccino or espresso. An in-store bakery, which produces delicious refreshments. A large selection of cold drinks and snacks. With some selected BP express stores it offers customers a wide range of convenient meal solutions. Like, pre-cut vegetables, fruit salads, and a take-away home rand of confectionery and rolls.
With BP express it has developed a new trend that it is different from other petrol stations, with developing the FRESH AT FORECOURTS, and this is a new trend for customers to expect fresh products like, fruit; selected range of seasonal fruit punnets and mixed fruits. Vegetables; selected range of seasonal pre-cut vegetables, herbs and salads. Bakery; pre-packed take-home rolls, cakes and biscuits. Processed meats: pre-packed cold meats and sausages. Red meals: beef stews and curries, rice dishes, lasagne and pasta meals.
Shell is an integrated energy company and the aims of company is to meet a growing demand for energy that is beneficial to economy, environment and social responsibility ” we put the service back into service station, ensuring you always leave us a little happier than when you arrived” this is a quote found on the Shell petrol station website. Shell has the second most visits in South Africa with 3 505 visits at 528 sires.
· They have a strategy which is to emphasis their position as a leader in the oil and gas industry and by considering the global energy demand in a responsible way. They also describe how the environment and social responsibility are the heart of their activities.
· Shell South Africa is mainly involved in the Retail and commercial fuels, Lubricants, oils, chemicals, manufacturing and upstream Exploration.
The petrol station has a nationwide retail network of strategically locating service that offer the customers a variety of fuel products as well as friendly service and convenience shopping.
Collecting feedback from consumers gives an indication that the business values their opinion. Listening to someone who supports your business helps create stronger relation and inevitably brand loyalty. To find out what factors influence customers choice of petrol station, a survey will be sent out to 20 different individuals who will answer the questions and that could give a great insight on what strategies petrol stations could implement to maintain the support they have been receiving.
The purpose of the following survey is to identify factors that influence customer’s choice of petrol stations. Please feel free as no personal information may be disclosed. Please only tick once for each question, unless stated otherwise.
From the results that have been obtained above, it is evident that convenience seems to be the biggest factor that influences the choice of customers. This gives an indication that consumers prefer going to petrol stations that are closer to where they live or work. This saves time and it is convenient to get petrol or a refreshment before heading out to a particular destination. However, 7/20 people, choose the ‘other’ option which implies that there are other factors that contribute to the choice of petrol station they might prefer eg: if there’s restaurant or an integrated shop like; Woolworths. It seems as though the consumers I asked to fill in the surveys don’t consider brand loyalty, and they support any close petrol station this is around. For the car wash, there could be an increase in price which might not be beneficial to a number of consumers.
This question consisted of a variety of options to choose from and Sasol and Engen are the dominating petrol station. For this particular question I didn’t give the consumers the opportunity to specify why they like the particular petrol station. From a general point of view, Engen and Sasol could be the favourite petrol stations because, there is a significant amount of these particular brands around the country and it is easily accessible for a number of people, regardless of the consumer’s destination. Most Engen garages have other shops included in them which come in handy for a number of consumers because if one needs to get some ingredients for lunch or dinner after work, if there is a Woolworths by an Engen garage, it is convenient for the consumer to make the stop at the Engen petrol station and go to the Woolworth, instead of going to a shopping centre. For the petrol stations which aren’t listed as the favourites, they should take in consideration of ways to get a more consumers interested.
For this particular question individuals that filled in this question expressed to me that the petrol stations they use often, don’t have the specific ATM they could withdraw money from which means they have to find another petrol station with the right ATM or possibly go to a shopping centre. Based on safety precautions and the space that is available, having one ATM makes sense. However, it is not convenient for a number of consumers and that results to them preferring other petrol stations. The reasoning behind having more than one petrol station is that the ATM’S play a vital role in providing their communities with easy access to cash, without having to travel long distances which could prevent time and money. It is important to provide good customer service to all consumers, including the new customers as the consumers are the foundation of any success to the business. With the petrol station franchise, the foundation of it being successful is determined by considering the customer’s importance at all stages of the marketing process. It helps the business ensure greater customer satisfaction and increase its long-term goal of the business. From the results that have been gathered, 45% of the individuals are in agreement with the fact that inadequate customer service influences their choice of petrol stations. The petrol attendants and the cashiers contribute to this factor immensely as there is a number of interactions with different consumers on a daily basis. It is important that they remain professional and provide satisfactory service because it is a huge loss for the business to lose a customer based on the service they received. In South Africa there is a variety of petrol stations and the purpose of this question, was to identify if individuals do use more than one petrol station in a period of 30 days. The leading factor is the “once” a month. This stipulates that out of the 20 people that filled in the survey a significant amount use the same petrol station. The reason for this varies. In some cases, one doesn’t necessarily keep track of the amount of petrol stations they use in a month. This also comes to the conclusion that preference plays a significant role in the choice of petrol station a customer might decide to use regularly.
50% of the individuals answered, ‘no’ which shows that these consumers have not being influenced by any factors to try out the new petrol stations. It generally makes sense as to why, because trying something new could not be beneficial to everyone even though at the end of the day the main purpose of a petrol station is to provide petrol for motorists. This also gives an indication that consumers are likely to use what they already know which can be seen as brand loyalty.
Petrol stations need to keep in mind how events in the Marco, market and micro environment may either influence the overall performance in a positive, negative or neutral manner. The importance of a business strategy is to determine, the future direction of a business. Strategies help to distinguish where you are positioned in the market.
After analysing the results from the surveys, the following strategies could help petrol stations to improve or grow.
How can this strategy be implemented in a petrol station?
With this strategy the petrol station needs to look at the entire business process and decide where the value is added in a cost-effective manner to enhance the amount of consumers they are getting.
· Identify/analyse the strength and weaknesses of the business. Eg: in the context of question 1 (what factors influence your choice of petrol stations?) The strength for the petrol station could be the petrol station, receiving a number of consumers because of convenience. Which means the petrol station could be in an area with a number of motorists who are in need of petrol or need to use the service station because it is easily accessible. With the strength and weakness, the business has control over.
In order to come up with strategies to respond to changes in the business environment, it is vital that the management team keep a close eye on events in both the internal and external business environment.
This strategy does not apply to the actual price of the petrol station.
However, this when a competitive advantage is created by a low cost strategy is based on having the lowest cost in the industry.
How can this be implemented in a petrol station?
· This could be beneficially to a petrol station by using cheap raw materials which ultimately leads to low input costs. The strategy works best if there is a big market (which there is in the petroleum industry) share which results in high turnover volumes and therefore high revenue.
The action of a group who work together to achieve a common goal. This is not applicable to consumers.
How does this strategy benefit the petrol station?
By generating new ideas to improve the business Eg: for all the individuals who use the car wash can get “stamp paper coupons” which means every time a consumer washes their car, the cashier stamps the coupon and once someone reaches 20 stamps. There is a discount and the consumer pay half price and the whole car gets thoroughly washed. This idea can enhance the factors that influence the consumer’s choice of a petrol station.
If there is a specific goal that should be reached for the month. The stuff should work together to gain this particular goal and not be competitive, because that will result to conflict and distracts everyone from achieving the goal.
Aimed at a specific market segment based on geography, culture, age, hobbies or any other criteria that created a unique group of customers in the market.
How can this strategy be implemented in the petrol station?
Targeting specific market by. For instance, if someone pours petrol, for a minimum amount of R100 and maximum amount of R500 can get a free coke. With this strategy, it would attract a significant number of consumers and it using what is a fixed cost (the petrol) and finding ways around it to attract more consumers.
Creating a unique product/service which will ensure customer loyalty.
How can this be implemented in a petrol station?
Quality products: (the service station, all the goods that are sold should be quality and be in good quality)
Marketing efforts: petrol stations should invest in using all platforms of advertising. Everyone is aware of the significance of the petrol station, which is the petrol. However, there is other factors that the petrol station offers and it is important to emphasise the factors.
Stay abreast of changes in the environment. Eg; when it is a cold day, the service station can issue coffee/tea for the consumers who spend R50 and above.
Implementing ideas that grow the business turnover and sales volume.
How can this be implemented in a petrol station?
Diversification: an existing market (the petrol station) offering a new product. The petrol station can add additional products that could be beneficial to consumers. Eg: the service station can offer other products besides what is offered already.
Helps the manager make a decision based on the advantages and disadvantages of a specific option.
How can this be implemented in a petrol station?
Pro: the petrol station decides to have a joint venture by combining the petrol station, with a restaurant. This would attract a number of consumers.
Con: this might attract criminals. There will be a significant amount of noise coming from the restaurants.
The business provides learning opportunities to develop the employee’s skills.
How can this be beneficial for the business?
This will result to continuous improvement, in the functioning of the business. The business should strive to create a culture where employees are constantly growing and learning.
The petroleum business does not solely depend on the petrol and has other factors that play a huge role.
I also learnt that people really have different preferences and it really got me out of my comfort zone, by making me interact with people I do not know and hearing their opinions on the questions I asked.
This task has made me realise how important the role of the customer plays in a business.
How I have grown through this process?
This research task has allowed me to approach people, as I generally struggle with approaching strangers. Each time I had to ask someone to fill in the survey, my communication had to be clear and direct.
How I can use this skill in the future?
From this research task I realised that Communication skills are very important once one starts being in the working environment. That would in regards with communicating with a new client, stuff existing/new consumer. Using different strategies will help the business for the better and it is important to be aware of all factors that may affect the business negatively