Forecourt operatives throughout Ireland face challenges and opportunities on a daily basis. Whether this be keeping up with an already competitive market or grasping the opportunity to expand your brand, there is no easy time for an independent forecourt retailer.
Raylene McCaughy, manager of McCaughey’s Service Station, located a near the border, knows exactly what it takes to compete in the forecourt and convenience industry as an independent.
Speaking to Raylene she alluded to the advantages and opportunities that can be afforded to numerous independents such as McCaughey’s Service Station, which is backed by Musgrave MarketPlace. Talking about the current revamp that their store is undergoing, Raylene suggested that due to the independent nature of the family run business, decisions, whilst not taken lightly, allow for a business such as this to continually supply their customers with the latest and greatest that forecourt and convenience can offer.
Future proofing your site, due issues such as a rise in electric vehicle sales, is another point that Raylene spoke to me about, stating: “Our plug-in service is not used much at the minute, due to the lack of electric vehicles in our area, rather than in bigger cities. However, anticipating the use of this and making sure we meet our customers’ needs is important.”
Raylene also talked about the importance of independent forecourt and retail operators investing in their locations. “Any changes are taken as a big decision. Something as simple as changing your food menu board could drastically affect the attendance of your loyal, local customers. It’s about positive changes for customers and keeping the location down to earth.” Raylene and the rest of the family, clearly spend a lot of time researching what is best for their customers, which has helped them become a well-established service station.
The family are still very much involved in the business. If someone has a query in store they can be assured they will be talking to owners and invested parties of the location. Raylene also advised she passes this ethos of care to her 40 or so staff, and thus there is no time wasted conversing between management, giving straightforward answers immediately. The same speed allows this independent to fluctuate their prices, which bigger retailers simply cannot do, giving them a distinct advantage in store.
Raylene did talk about some of the disadvantages that they, and potentially other independents, are dealing with. Issues from consumers regarding pricing and cost of stock being higher than budget supermarket chains, profit margins taken by the service station, geographical location complicating what will and won’t work, attainment of staff, small changes making a big impact and technology moving “faster than we can keep up sometimes.” These factors can spell trouble for retailers; however, you can be assured there are solutions to these.
The way that these difficulties are overcome is by “offering everything that a customer may need.” Deli services, washing facilities, ATMs and a plethora of other top quality facilities have allowed McCaughey’s Service Station to become successful family run store and compete within a competitive market.