Alan Cerwick, president of VP Racing Fuels, has noticed, during his 19 years in the industry, that c-store owners and distributors have struggled to adapt to industry changes. Whether retailers sought solutions for shrinking margins and growing competition or EMV and PCI compliance, retailers continue to struggle with change.
According to Cerwick, that experience drove him to conceive a “game-changing business model” that provides the solutions distributors and petroleum retailers need to be more successful. It also led to his conclusion that VP Racing Fuels was the only brand that could execute it. “Given the state of the retail petroleum industry today, being tied to a major brand is no guarantee of success – more like a noose that keeps tightening. VP is truly in a unique position to address all the constraints levied on petroleum retailers by major brands.”
“I view the solutions we offer in four key categories – expense reduction, revenue enhancement, equipment financing, and most recently, assistance with EMV compliance,” said Cerwick. “On the expense side, our credit card solution reduces the retailer’s expense on every transaction with the lowest processing fees in the industry, and we also give them the freedom to buy fuel on the open market, saving up to $.08-.10 on every gallon purchased. Combined, the total savings are substantial.”
“Regarding revenue, not only has our solution led to increased volumes of regular and premium gallons sold at every location that has converted to the VP brand to date, but VP-branded products create totally new revenue streams that aren’t available with any other brand,” Cerwick continued. “These stores become a destination for performance enthusiasts looking for VP’s off-road race fuel blends, performance chemicals, small engine fuels, apparel and other products, each of which is high ring and high margin.”
“Financing capital investments can be a concern for store owners so we provide a solution through our preferred lender, Allied Brand Services (ABS)”, Cerwick added. According to Mike Cerminaro, president of Allied Brand Services, ABS provides VP’s retail partners up to 100% financing and other favorable terms for reimaging and signage, discounted POS system prices, 0% financing on fuel dispensers and other attractive vendor financing programs.
“Most recently, store owners have become increasingly concerned about EMV compliance,” said Cerwick. “In response, VP has created a new Website — EMVsolved.com. It’s designed to provide store owners with comprehensive information about EMV and PCI compliance and includes several videos produced by ABS that explain these issues and the options available to petroleum retailers.
“The requirements for EMV and PCI compliance are complex and expensive, requiring chip-enabled terminals inside the store, compatible data transmission lines and equipment upgrades in the forecourt. ABS can help retailers understand what’s involved in all these upgrades, how to implement them most efficiently and cost-effectively and provide the necessary financing under very favorable terms,” added Cerminaro.
On behalf of VP-branded dealers, ABS also has negotiated preferred pricing with the major equipment manufacturers on a broad range of EMV compliant equipment. This includes state-of-the-art POS system equipment from NCR, Verifone and others, as well as the newest fuel dispensers from Gilbarco and Wayne. More information about EMV compliance and financing capital investments is available at alliedbrandservices.com.
VP’s retail branding program continues to gain momentum. It has now partnered with distributors that collectively service more than 3000 retail locations in 40+ states. Stations have been converted to the VP brand in 14 states from Oregon to Georgia and Vermont to Arizona, with many more in the pipeline.
“Our branding program is a game-changer because it puts the retailers’ interests first,” Cerwick concluded. “We want retailers to see us as partners with solutions rather than bosses with demands. Retailers who are flying the VP colors have more freedom, more control over their business and they make more money. Their buy-in validates the strength of the VP brand and gives us great confidence in the long-term success of our program.”