Driving is an American pastime, and the popularity of vehicles means owning a gas station can be a lucrative opportunity for those wanting to start their own business. By working with a franchise, you'll receive the benefits of owning a business but can also leverage the trademark and advertising of the larger franchise. For many new business owners, this provides the right opportunity to start a successful business.
When you own a gas station franchise, you'll select the business location and manage the business, but you'll pay franchise fees and will have to abide by the franchise's rules and regulations. If this sounds like a scenario that will work for you, here's what you should do to start your own gas station business.
What Do I Need to Know to Start a Gas Station Franchise?
To buy a gas station franchise, you don't need any specific education. However, many franchises want to work with professionals they believe will have the best chance at building a successful gas station. Therefore, those who have some experience with business ownership will have the best chance at being approved to buy a gas station franchise.
To build your business knowledge, look for opportunities to:
- Take classes on business management, accounting, and similar fields related to successful business management. Community colleges and trade schools might have valuable classes you can take to build your resume.
- Gain experience in business management. If you haven't managed any type of business before, it might be helpful to gain some first-hand experience before opening a gas station franchise. You can start working for other businesses or find a mentor who runs another gas station and can help you better understand the industry.
- Look for training opportunities. The franchises that you're interested in working with may offer training opportunities or courses for those interested in opening a franchise. They can offer valuable insight into what makes a gas station successful.
Additionally, don't neglect the importance of market research as you seek approval from the franchise. Conduct market research to see where the best location for a gas station might be and what information you have to support it. You can look at the layout of current stations, areas near major roads that don't currently have a convenient gas station, or even the type of gas stations located in each area and what alternatives people might appreciate. Market research can help you better understand your target audience and allow you to make a stronger argument as to why you would be a good franchise owner.
How Do I Create a Business Plan for a Gas Station Franchise?
Creating a business plan will play a vital role in the success of your gas station. As a franchise owner, you'll need to consider a variety of costs and fees required to keep your business running. A business plan can help you organize your finances, make a plan, and ensure that you have what you need to run a profitable business.
To create this plan, first consider what you want to offer at your gas station. While you will, of course, sell gas, many gas stations also offer convenience stores, car washes, or automotive service stations. Your convenience store can carry everything from lottery tickets to coffee or quick snacks, making it a great way to build your bottom line.
Once you know the specific services you want to offer with your gas station, you can calculate your startup costs. These costs may include:
- The lease of the land where you'll have your station
- The fees due to the franchise
- The cost of fuel
- The expenses involved in setting up the station, such as putting in the gas pumps or setting up the convenience store (or C-store)
- The cost of occupancy certificates or business licenses you need from your state
However, you might be able to save money by starting your business at an existing gas station. Then, your costs will primarily focus on repairing and maintaining dispensers and other important parts rather than having to start from scratch.
As a franchise gasoline station owner, you'll generally have regulations regarding the products you sell and the prices you set. Therefore, factor gas prices into your considerations as you weigh the costs you'll face.
Many local businesses have resources that can help them manage some of these costs. Franchises will sometimes offer payment plans for those starting a new location, which can help reduce the amount of money you owe upfront. You can also apply for financial loans for your business. To secure a business loan, you'll often need to present your business ideas and a business plan to the lender. This business plan should include:
- The steps you have now outlined, including the franchise you will work with
- The market research you have gathered
- Your startup costs, how much you will charge, and how much you expert to generate
Do I Need to Create a Legal Business Entity for My Gas Station?
All business owners want to make sure they establish a separate business entity for their new company. Creating a separate entity can provide several benefits, including:
- It helps to reduce your personal liability. If your business falls into debt, you don't want your personal assets viewed as potential ways to pay off the debt.
- It will make it easier to manage your taxes.
- It will help you keep your finances organized, including being able to make payments and accept payments as the business itself.
However, since you're interested in securing a franchise, the process of becoming a legal business might look a little different. Instead of starting a new business from scratch, you will be opening a new location of an existing business. And unlike other retailers, you won't have to think up a new business name or worry about the pricing of items in your store.
To begin, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires franchises to make certain disclosures to prospective business owners so that they can make the best possible decision about whether they will invest in this business model. Although the FTC doesn't require franchise owners to register separately at the federal level, several states require state-level registration. Therefore, you'll want to make sure that you properly register your franchise with any required authority.
Once you have gone through the legal process of setting up the franchise, the system does provide you with limited liability protection.
How Do I Bring Customers Into My Gas Station?
One of the biggest benefits that people appreciate when opening a franchise is that you get to tap into the promotions that the larger corporation runs. For example, if your franchise runs promotions for certain sales or special events, you can reap the benefits of a quality marketing campaign without having to directly fund it yourself. You also get to experience the benefit of working under an existing logo and brand name.
However, you can encourage customers to visit your particular gas station by doing the following:
- Choose an excellent location. This location should fill a gap in gas service options in the area and attract the attention of drivers passing by.
- Focus on customer service. Make sure that you found a location that offers convenience for drivers and know the type of drivers you want to target. Are you catering to travelers along a major highway or commuters along local roads, for example? Knowing your target customer can help you evaluate what will be the most valued, such as a well-stocked convenience store. The better you know your customers, the easier it will be to provide them with outstanding customer service.
- If your franchise maintains any sort of list of locations, make sure you are added to appear on local online searches. Similarly, make sure your location pops up on Google Maps and other popular GPS systems as a gas station location to help attract travelers who are looking for the closest pump.
- Review your franchise agreement and make sure you understand your opportunities for self-promotion. For example, do you have the freedom to send out direct mail flyers letting people know about your new location after your grand opening? Knowing what you can legally do according to the franchising agreement can help you create a plan for promoting your business in the local community. You can start to form a basic marketing strategy that incorporates signage for your local service center.
What Should I Expect to Do Day to Day as a Gas Station Franchise Owner?
As a gas station owner, you'll spend a significant portion of the day helping customers, either at the pump or in the convenience store. Managing your employees will also be an important undertaking as a business owner.
However, running any business requires regularly managing your financial books so you can maintain a clear picture of your finances. Knowing how your business performs will play a critical role in your ability to maintain a strong and successful gas station.
Fortunately, Skynova offers small business accounting software designed for small business owners just like you. Our easy-to-understand software can help you carefully track your profit margins and the profitability of your gas station.
You can also track any expenses and overhead costs. This will likely include:
- Costs associated with leasing your location
- Paying any employees
- Keeping the convenience store well-stocked
- Insurance plans
- Securing fuel from a supplier that can get it from the oil companies
These expenses, along with any receipts, can be quickly recorded on our platform.
Get the Gas Pumping With Skynova
A gas station franchise can present you with an incredible opportunity to run your own business. As you get started, though, don't forget to take advantage of Skynova's software products and business templates, which can help simplify your bookkeeping and keep you in compliance with the IRS at tax time. Take the next steps and become a gas station franchisee today.