Jan 11, 2022

From forecourt attendant to fuel retailer

One of PetroCONNECT’s founders, Mark Harper, and newly appointed fuel retailer, Godrich Shingange, were recently interviewed by our partner, Nedbank. Read more about Godrich’s story from forecourt attendant to fuel retailer and the role that PetroCONNECT played in his journey.

17 years of experience in the fuel retail industry

When Godrich entered the fuel retail industry, he would never have guessed that 17 years later, he would become a fuel retailer himself. “Mine really is a story of perseverance and longevity in the industry,” says Godrich, “Coming in really, I didn't think of myself owning a service station one day because for me at the time, I was just looking for employment to support my family. But I quickly developed a strong desire and interest in what the management was doing on-site, and I was lucky enough to have been given an opportunity to grow through the ranks.”

“Mine really is a story of perseverance and longevity in the industry” - Godrich Shingange

Godrich journey began as a forecourt attendant operating fuel pumps, to then being given the opportunity to be a supervisor - both on the forecourt and in the convenience shop. “Over time he became a site manager, and today he is proud to be a fuel retailer himself, owning bp Everton, in Kloof, KZN.”

The unforeseen challenges of becoming a fuel retailer

Owning a fuel station comes with its challenges, one of which is the patience to raise deposit funds for the purchase of your fuel station. But there is also the challenge of the weighty responsibility of having employees work for you, and being able to manage a business from an accounting perspective.

Godrich explains these challenges saying, “When I look back, it was worth the wait because sometimes you have to be prepared not only financially, but psychologically as well.” In the current economic climate, fuel retail employees are often supporting a number of people in their homes, and that pressure to be successful for their sake and your own can be a lot to shoulder.

Advice from Godrich to future retailers: recognise when you need to ask for help and do so. It’s also important that you are compliant with the various safety and legislative areas that need to be adhered to. This being said, a future fuel retailer needs to understand that running a fuel station comes with many challenges influenced by legislative, social and economic factors.

The ever-changing fuel retail industry

“I think you're seeing the whole fuel industry is just evolving.” - Mark Harper

Outside of pumping fuel or washing car windows, fuel retail has developed into a multi-faceted business, with retailers having to navigate convenience stores, QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants) as well as new sources of fuel and energy. As the industry develops, different types of products are introduced, and so fuel retailers need to adapt in line with these changes, and the increased competition that comes with it.

The team at PetroCONNECT understand the market and already are guiding retailers in navigating, and succeeding, in QSR’s. As Mark Harper shares, Quick Service Restaurants are a large part of what fuel retailers need to manage these days, as it gives a service station a very competitive edge.

How PetroCONNECT is able to assist with fuel retail challenges

The fuel retail industry in South Africa is a diverse and ever-changing industry. According to one of the PetroCONNECT founders, Mark Harper, “It makes you want to continually broaden your horizons within the industry, and also keep reinventing the industry. I think that's what really created PetroCONNECT - coming up with solutions to the challenges we saw.”

Alongside the partnership with Nedbank, PetroCONNECT aims to make critical takeover processes efficient and seamless. They want to fill the knowledge gaps of those trying to get into the fuel retail industry, while ensuring that these candidates are of a high calibre, to ensure that the industry has the right types of people entering it.

Given the gaps in the fuel retail industry around education and mentorship, PetroCONNECT has created better structures for preparation and mentorship through their Readiness Programme and Mentorship programme. “I think the education around the industry has been a big gap over the years. The PetroCONNECT Academy regularly runs a Readiness Programme - a fundamental program that needed to be launched,” says Mark Harper, “PetroCONNECT is really about giving that knowledge to someone who doesn't know anything about the industry or to anyone who thinks they want to own a service station. We wanted to educate better and get the right people into the industry.”

Godrich’s experience with PetroCONNECT systems backs up the claims - he can run the business efficiently by making sure that each and every transaction is being accounted for. “Not just the transaction, but myself as a business owner, I am accountable for everything that I do in the business so I cannot just do as I please. It also enables me to have an overview of the day-to-day runnings of the business through a click of a button,” says Godrich.

PetroCONNECT ensures everything is accounted for accordingly; there is a system in place that will help fuel retailers manage their business efficiently and appropriately from various angles including legal, labour and accounting. Learn more about these PetroCONNECT services by clicking on the links below.