After walking away with a major prize in the recent IF&CR awards, Junction 4’s site director explains how the service station has stayed on top for the past four years.
“We’re delighted with the award,” said Aaron MacHale, site director at the award-winning Junction 4 Turvey site in Swords, Dublin.
The Great Gas and Centra site was named winner in one of Ireland’s Forecourt & Convenience Retailer Award’s most competitive categories – Best Forecourt Facilities – and came close in the battle for the Forecourt of the Year top prize.
“It’s great to get recognition,” Aaron said. “We were runners up in a few different categories in recent years, and it’s good to be recognised in the industry’s biggest awards of the year.”
It’s been a speedy journey to the top for the site, which opened only four years ago, but its huge range of facilities caught the judges’ attention, who described it as “spacious and well-organised”.
The 24 hour site features a space for commercial vehicles, a truck filling area, showers, Jet wash, drive-through Supermac’s, WiFi, seating for 60 people, an outdoor eating area, and an extensive convenience offer with an off-licence.
“We try hard to make sure we’ve everything customers are looking for,” he said. “There’s a wide-range of products in-store. We’re catering for a completely different audience.”
And on winning the award itself, Aaron took time to speak highly of the ceremony.
“It was a very good night,” he said. “There was a really strong representation from all the key bodies, stakeholders, oil companies, and retailers.”
But the win was in no small part down to the efforts at the site to make it an invaluable part of community life in the area.
The station hosts a large number of events and promotions, including family fun days, and recently saw the arrival of the Supermac’s and Great Gas sponsored rally car for petrol-heads to fawn over.
“We’ll be celebrating our four year anniversary in November, so we’re planning something special for that,” he said. “We do a lot with the community, and sponsor our local GAA and soccer clubs, as well as a motor racing team. There’s a large surrounding population, and we try to support all the local clubs as much as we can. You could say we’re a bit of cultural hub for the area. It’s all good for the community and that side of the business is growing every year.”
Managing a site of this scope isn’t easy, however, but Aaron is thankful for his team of hard-working staff who go the extra mile to keep standards high.
“Our deli manager, for example, cooks a lot of the food on site, giving it a home-cooked feel. It’s open from 6am to late, so people know they can go and will always be able to get something. It’s very popular and has become a big part of the draw. Everyone is working hard, trying to get the store looking clean and well faced-off to get the consistency which is so important.”
Having one of the best sites in the country is no easy feat, and Aaron recognises that keeping a close eye on the competition is integral to staying ahead.
“Great Gas builds new sites all the time and we always look to see if there are new ideas to try,” he said. “Where we are, there’s a lot of strong competition, and you have to keep on top of things.
“A lot of what we do is focussed on customer service. Customers don’t want to have to wait on getting petrol, so we have things like our pay-at-the-pump systems to keep things moving, and keep queues to a minimum.”
And with things improving all the time at the site, Aaron said he has high hopes for next year’s awards.
“We will definitely be back next year,” he said. “We didn’t win best forecourt and we aim to do something about that for next year. We might look at entering some different categories.
“The forecourts that won this year are definitely the top sites in the country, so the competition is fierce, but I know we have a chance.”