The Evolving Landscape of Forecourt Retail

We look at how the past year has shaped the role of forecourt retailers, the current trends impacting the sector and maximising the opportunities.

Evolving customer behaviour is a continuous driver of the changing role of forecourt outlets within their community. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, it was reported that only 19% of forecourt shoppers cited fuel as their main reason for visiting and 24% of shoppers who visited a forecourt convenience store travel on foot rather than in a vehicle. This suggests that even before the first national lockdown, convenience outlets on forecourts already held a strong position within their local communities.

And this position has been further cemented by the unparalleled shopper behaviour thanks to the pandemic. With directions to stay at home and panic buying putting pressure on supermarkets, many customers looked to their local convenience stores for meeting essential shopping needs, and that included their local forecourt convenience store.

It wasn’t so long ago that customers might have only been tempted by a few impulse purchases to refuel themselves alongside their vehicle when they stopped at a forecourt, but even before the pandemic, time-short shoppers were looking for convenience, and the ability to complete as many transactions in one stop as possible. So, the ability to pick up some groceries, refuel your car and even grab a takeaway coffee all in one spot appealed. In many ways, these emerging trends placed many forecourt operators in a favourable position going into the pandemic, as they already were serving so many needs for locals.

Geography obviously plays a role here, for some forecourt retailers who count more on long-distance travellers rather than serving a local community, lockdowns have inevitably had a negative impact. But for these forecourt retailers, there may be light at the end of the tunnel as they look to benefit from the increase in domestic travel this summer as Brits book ‘staycations’.

So, whether it’s serving the local community or preparing for an increase in domestic tourism, forecourt retailers will play an important part in serving British shoppers in 2021. Adapting and planning are key in an operator’s ability to capitalise on the opportunities presented to them, and training plays a huge role here.

Let’s look at some of the ways training will help you in 2021.  

The Evolving Landscape of Forecourt Retail

More Customers = More Staff

The forecasted upward trends in local retail and staycations will provide a welcome boost to forecourt retailers. But more customers mean more staff. Recruitment and induction of new team members can put a lot of cost and time pressure on operators, so it’s important to optimise the efficiency of your hiring processes. This means implementing a robust training programme which will help retain team members for longer, reducing the need to spend more time and money on further recruitment. Your training programme will also need to serve to meet legal and safety requirements, particularly the specific safety aspects of operating a site that sells fuel.

Retaining and Retraining

Advanced training for team members unlocks a whole host of benefits for businesses. For team members, further and advanced level training helps with successful knowledge retention, which is crucial for regulated operations. For operators, well-trained teams are happier and likely to stay with their employer for longer and offering advanced level training means you increase your team members who are able to hold positions of responsibility.

Effectiveness of Training

Setting out a training pathway will help you unlock the key benefits outlined and meet legal requirements within your business. But how do you address this in the most efficient and cost-effective way?

Online e-learning courses are a great way to deliver effective training to teams. As specialist learning providers to the retail sector, we have been developing a number of retail-specific e-learning courses to support retail operators. The newest course programme in this collection is Forecourt Competent Person. This advanced programme guides learners through several modules covering the laws and regulations surrounding fuel tank configuration and ullage, the safe acceptance of fuel deliveries and how to complete the petroleum certificate properly.

Developed to deliver full training around fuel handling and operations in one place, this course is aimed at all team members who work in a petrol station environment who are looking to become a forecourt competent person.

Modules include:

  • Introduction
  • Main Hazards
  • The Law and Penalties
  • Checks and Interceptors
  • Processes of Fuel Deliveries
  • Prepare for Fuel Deliveries
  • Procedures in Emergencies
  • End Assessment

For more information about e-learning for retail, please get in touch with us today.  

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