IF&CR speaks to two Co Roscommon forecourt retailers, who have made the switch to Valero, selling fuel under the Texaco brand.
When experienced forecourt professionals with the business acumen of Declan Jones and Emer Cooney switch to your brand, you must be doing something right.
Both former Esso dealers and highly-regarded business people in Co Roscommon, their forecourts have been equally well-received after donning the Texaco brand in the last few months.
As managing director of one of the county’s biggest and best-known commercial entities, Westward Holdings, Declan Jones knows more than his fair share about business.
The family run firm has a number of commercial interests, including being Ireland’s sole importer and distributor of Scania commercial vehicles, and operates two forecourts in Roscommon.
And with over 17 years in the forecourt industry, what he doesn’t know about forecourts is probably worth ignoring.
The company operates two forecourts in Roscommon, one just outside Strokestown, the other along the N5 in Termonbarry.
For some, switching providers can seem a daunting, complicated task, but not so for Declan. For him, the decision comes down to one simple axiom; business is about people.
“I’ve seen massive changes over the years,” he said. “The industry has undergone a huge redevelopment. There is so much automation now; there has been much advancement, especially in the number of services a forecourt needs to offer, which is ever-increasing. It’s been an interesting process.”
The Strokestown site switched to the Texaco brand in April and according to Declan is going “very well”.
“We’re really happy with it,” Declan said. “We’ve had a very positive response from our customers.”
The Termonbarry site, meanwhile, underwent a major refurbishment as part of the switch in April too.
“Refurbishments come with a deal of disruption – it’s inevitable,” Declan said. “You need a good level of flexibility and to have a team of people around you who will work closely with you. Valero provided just that. Overall, it was a very smooth transition. Change can be a good thing, but it’s not something we do lightly.”
He added: “Our interests have always been to have a long term relationship with a reliable brand that gives confidence to our customers. It’s about getting the basics right. We need to be able to buy fuel for a competitive price, so we can offer it to our customers for a competitive price. We also want to ensure it’s a quality product so that our customers are satisfied and want to come back. You want people to build that association of good prices and quality with the brand.”
Declan explained that he believed the combination of the Westward sites and the international Texaco brand gave his customers confidence, ensuring they would return time and again.
“Customers travel long distances, going to work and home again every day,” he said. “They want to know they’re filling up with a quality fuel, so they can go about their business. Providing that service is really what it’s all about.”
And for Declan, choosing which brand to partner with was an equally easy decision.
“Business is all about people,” he told IF&CR. “You don’t want to work with people who are wasting time as you need to be focused on the business in hand. You need to know who you’re dealing with, and you need to be able to trust people. That’s what we found and liked about Valero.”
Emer Cooney’s forecourt in Greatmeadow, Boyle, switched to Valero in May. As one of the owners of Cooney Motors, another Co Roscommon family run business, Emer has amassed valuable business knowledge and it shows.
With 16 years’ experience in retail, Emer also knows that keeping abreast of changes is a vital part of success.
“There has been a huge amount of change in the industry, from dealing with fuel companies to the expectations of customers,” she said.
“We must provide what customers want to stay competitive. We hold regular meetings and agree a list of things we need to do to fit our customers’ requirements. What we’ve seen is that customers now want and expect more from their forecourt than they ever have before. If you don’t move with the times, then you get left behind,” Emer told us.
Like Declan, Emer is also delighted with her new relationship with Valero, saying the Texaco brand is attracting new customers.
“Texaco has always been a premium brand, while keeping its prices competitive,” she said. “It’s a great image, and the first thing the customer sees. Valero has been business-like to work with, very approachable, easy to reach, and they are keen to look after their customers. That in turn allows us to look after our customers.”
Emer also spoke highly about Valero’s ‘next day delivery’ service, which she said few others offered.
“It’s brilliant,” she said. “It enables us to plan our business better and we find it’s a great service. It’s another reason why moving to Valero has been so beneficial. We’re able to give our customers 110 per cent and we see it paying off. “
Tomás Naughton, Retail Manager for Valero in Ireland, says that the singular focus on fuel supply works for Valero and for its dealers as it allows both to focus on their key strengths – a reputable fuel supply from a company owned refinery (Valero) and retail excellence at service station level (dealer).
“What we emphasise are the competitive strengths of our Pembroke refinery, which is a major, modern supplier of quality product to the Irish market, and the heritage and trust that are so deeply ingrained in the Texaco brand in this market.”
“We also continually strive to be the competitive fuel supplier of choice to independent dealers and our customers have seen the benefit of this and will continue to do so. Our partnership approach works very well and is delivering tangible results to our dealers,” he concludes.
Valero Energy Corporation is the world’s largest independent oil refiner and markets fuel in Ireland under the Texaco brand. If you’re an independent dealer and would like to discuss your fuel supply with them, email firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll make contact with you.