Due to residual impact of the pandemic, increased gas prices and the requirement to become EMV compliant, small gas station owners have been struggling. Many gas station owners are unsure whether they can survive. With less customers filling up less frequently due to budget concerns, gas stations are feeling the burn. Their profit margin on gas sales is limited to about 15¢ per gallon and balanced against expenses including rent, staffing, utilities, freight and payment acceptance/processing fees, a gas station retailer can be left with only about 2 cents per gallon in profit.
So fueling station owners need to be creative with ways to increase their revenue beyond just gas fill ups. Many also operate a c-store on premises, which nicely complements their business model with a secondary revenue stream. With the c-store, they can sell tobacco products, groceries and other essentials. Many of these stores even accept EBT.
“In order to not just stay in business, but to prevail and succeed amidst competition and regulations, gas stations need to update. Upgrading includes installing EMV compliance into the pumps, fixing up the store, and implementing a new, more modern POS that can better help tracking sales and inventory. Renovations can be expensive and upgrading carries its costs,” said Elie Y. Katz, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS). “But ultimately, improving the fueling points and c-store will pay for itself and more, with increased sales and loyal customers. A powerful pump-integrated POS system can help manage the business and increase revenue, connecting the c-store with the fueling points outside. With integrated credit card processing, customers can pay for gas and groceries with just a tap or dip, all in one transaction. Some POS even offer cash discounting, which can be especially lucrative for a gas station.”
While Covid cases were spiking, tradition c-store customers feared for their lives and stayed at home, which directly impacted the revenue of gas stations. And to add insult to injury, now that people are back on the road more, gas station prices have risen. People are discouraged from driving long distances for vacations and are opting to work remotely to avoid travel to the office. Gas prices are not expected to drop any time soon.
“Over a year ago, the deadline for gas pump EMV compliance came and went. Gas stations must upgrade for EMV compliance at their pumps or lose protection from fraud,” Katz said. “In the past, major card brands would cover the gas station owner for fraud at their pumps. As of April 2021, gas retailers are fully liable for credit card fraud and unless EMV readers are installed, they are unprotected. Fueling stations have been scrambling to upgrade their pumps, but it’s expensive. Upgrading to be EMV-compliant is not a simple task. It conventionally might require major renovations, including the removal of the pumps and business downtime, which can be costly.”
The cost to upgrade a single EMV pump can run between $10,000 and $20,000.
“Tearing up concrete and replacing four pumps (or more) might cost up to $150,000 to $200,000. So it’s important to do research and seek out the most efficient, affordable solution for upgrading the pumps for EMV,” Katz said. “There is an alternative to messy renovations; a clean retrofit EMV solution that can be installed into the existing pumps without requiring exorbitant fees or closing the business for renovations. This stress-free solution can enable the gas station to be compliant and fraud-protected, while saving many thousands of dollars.”
But even though upgrading and updating the gas station and c-store doesn’t have to break the bank, funds are needed to get it all done. To manage the cost outlay for purchasing a new POS system or upgrading for EMV, a business can consider applying for a cash advance, which is a lot easier to obtain than a bank loan.
“A cash advance does a lengthy, rigorous application process. A cash advance offers more readily available funding that can be in the bank, after approval, within 24-48 hours, compared with a week or two (or more) wait that typically comes with business bank loans. Unlike a bank loan which is issued for specific use, a cash advance can be utilized however a business sees fit,” Katz said. “A gas station owner, for example, can use cash advance funding to modernize, install a pump-integrated point-of-sale system plus other technology, hire additional personnel, or replenish a rainy-day reserve. They can even use some of the money to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Cash advance repayment options for gas stations are flexible and based on projected receivables.”
Customers will appreciate visiting a gas station with cutting-edge technology and a well-stocked c-store. They will appreciate the fact that the gas station takes fraud prevention seriously. Updating doesn’t have to hurt. “The cost outlay for upgrading is well worth it, and will pay itself back quickly,” Katz said.