In this day of shrinking margins, cardlocks are still one of the havens of respectable margins. The cardlock industry will continue to be profitable as long as marketers continue to position cardlocks as a cost-saving service, not simply a pump price. Check out these ideas to pump up your cardlock profits.
Beef Up Your Marketing – You can increase your marketing through telemarketers, a direct outside sales person, or a combination of both. Telemarketing is more cost-effective than direct sales, but its nice to have someone on the street for the customer that needs face-to-face involvement to get started. As with any sales position, product knowledge, customer knowledge and formal sales technique mastery is essential for success.
Sell Service – Cardlock marketing is about selling the benefits and value of information, not about pump price. A competent sales person may never even mention price in a cardlock sales presentation. The savviest cardlock marketers “customize” billing information for each customer and work to exactly meet each customer’s information specifications. These marketers realize that the more customization, the harder it is for that customer to leave for a competitor.
New Products – Adventuresome marketers are reporting good success with Bio-Diesel. They report the product tends to be less price-sensitive than regular diesel or gasoline and serves as an entry for them into previously difficult markets. Government and big industry seem to love Bio Diesel!
Off Road Diesel — Although not a new product, infrequently found at cardlocks, marketers are beginning to offer off-road diesel (check your state regulations on this product to be sure you remain within tax guidelines). For those marketers with cardlocks in agricultural areas, a designated off-road diesel dispenser only accessible to those drivers whose companies have completed all required non-taxable paperwork can be a magnetic draw.
Prepaid Cards – A few brave marketers are dipping their toes into the prepaid card environment at their cardlocks. Although an obvious cash flow enhancer, prepaid cards are still in their infancy in the cardlock sector and the jury is still out as to whether this strategy will be successful. In theory, it sounds terrific!
Network Combinations – Some formerly competing cardlock companies have begun to share customer bases. The result appears to be healthy market penetration without much cannibalization of either original company.
Wet Hosing Alternative – Some marketers are offering a dual cardlock and wet-hosing service. (For those not familiar with the term, wet hosing is when a driver hauls a load of fuel to a customer location and then proceeds to individually fill up each vehicle on that lot.) By doing a night wet-hosing service, and having convenient cardlock locations for day activity, marketers can meet a customer’s total fuel needs.