When you buy a gas station or convenience store, don’t just settle down and expect to blend in to the business landscape and get clients just because “you are there”. Don’t rely on the status quo and expect customers to come and go on a daily basis. You need to employ some aggressive marketing techniques to help you compete and defeat all your competitors, even the supposedly dominant oil company owned stations. Be proactive and make something out of your new acquisition – you will be proud of yourself if you do.
Turn to the marketing basics and play your own twists:
Firstly, make sure that you differentiate. Take a tour of your general area and visit all the other gas stations and convenience stores. Look to see what they are doing from a marketing perspective and take good notes. When you return to your place of business, start offering something special that they don’t. Differentiate your business by, for example, opening longer hours or by presenting your location as a brighter and cleaner option. Pick out a distinctive uniform for your employees and make sure that you train them well so that they enthusiastically greet every visitor.
Come up with a list of promotions and prizes to stage periodically, coupons too. One of the staples of a gas station is its morning coffee – provide a great flavor and stimulate your visitor taste buds! Stock your store with a wider selection of items and make sure that you give certain things away free – including air, water and vacuum.
Secondly, communicate! Don’t be shy and make sure that you tell your customers that you have the best gas station and convenience store in the area. Once you have identified your core customer and found out all about their habits, initiate promotional campaigns within the media channels that will reach them directly; for instance, put discount coupons in grocery stores. Make sure that your communication methods are consistent – keep selling. From time to time open your facility to a worthy charity – for example, those car washes staged by the local softball team.
Thirdly, make sure you integrate well into the surrounding community. Look for opportunities to sponsor a local sports team or a popular cause. Get involved in cleaning up an eyesore, such as a neglected local park. Consider funding a college scholarship or co-promote with the merchants in your area to help improve the business climate. Whatever you do, make sure that you send information about it to the local media so they will promote you free of charge. As you will pretty much always get coverage if newsworthy, go out of your way to generate those “feel good” activities and the press will help you out with column inches and radio sound bites.
There’s no such thing as a small business, only business people who think small!
Richard Parker is the President and founder of the Diomo Corporation – The Business Buyer Resource Center. His inspiring materials, seminars and consulting have assisted thousands of business buyers with achieving their life long dream of buying a business.