Feb 22, 2023

Unleashing the Potential of Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships are a vital aspect of any business, and this is especially true in the South African fuel retail industry. “The main objective [of partnerships] is the true synergy of one plus one equals five instead of two," according to small business owner Scott Schnurr. In the fuel retail industry, this means that by partnering with the right individuals or companies, a business can achieve growth and sustainability that would not be possible on its own.

The fuel retail industry is a highly regulated and capital-intensive sector, making it challenging for individuals to enter the market. The biggest hurdle for aspiring dealers is the cost of buying a service station, which can be prohibitively expensive for many.

Additionally, managing a service station requires not only financial resources but also a deep understanding of the industry and its operations. That’s where PetroCONNECT comes into the equation.


The transformation objective of the Liquid Fuels Charter is to achieve 25% of sustainable presence ownership or control of all facets of the industry of the various entities that hold the operating assets of the South African oil industry. This has been a long and slow journey however many strides have been made by the various stakeholders to create an inclusive industry. This involved stricter compliance to the BBBEE scorecard for the industry. Despite the long-awaited promulgation of industry sector codes, oil companies took it upon themselves to proactively implement their own specific BBBEE strategies in order to respond to already identified gaps. This has been widely welcomed by many stakeholders in the industry and has opened more strategic collaborations between new aspirants and experienced dealers. These strategic collaborations not only retain the wealth of experience within the dealer network but also ensure sustainability, skills transfer and mentorship.

Research and insights

To overcome the challenges of entering the fuel retail industry, aspiring dealers should conduct thorough research to gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry. It is crucial to conduct a thorough market analysis to understand the current market trends, competition, consumer demand, and potential growth opportunities. At least you know that there is a market since most vehicles on the roads require fuel.

Performing adequate research will not only help to determine if the fuel retail industry is the right fit but also assist in identifying potential strategic partnerships. Collaborating with other businesses and organisations in the fuel retail sector can help you build a stronger and more sustainable business.

The easiest way to begin your research is with PetroCONNECT’s Readiness Programme. The Readiness Programme provides individuals wishing to enter the sector with practical insights on what it takes to successfully operate a service station in South Africa. It provides skills-based training material, assessments and a practical on-site experiential learning approach to equip candidates with an in-depth understanding of what it takes to effectively run a fuel retail business.

Financial considerations

Financial capacity is also an important consideration for aspiring dealers. While having the funds to buy a service station is crucial, managing a service station requires a different set of skills and knowledge.

This is where strategic partnerships can provide significant value. A partner who complements the aspiring dealer's skills and experience can provide the necessary support to help the business thrive. If you don’t have a head for numbers, create a strategic partnership with someone who does.

It is important to note that the financial capability to purchase a service station and the capability to effectively manage a service station are distinct and separate considerations. The right strategic partnership can assist with one or both.

Building the best strategic partnership

Collaboration isn’t only reserved for aspiring dealers. Existing dealers who are facing cash flow or operational challenges should also consider strategic partnerships as a way to ease the burden on their business and achieve growth and sustainability. Strategic partnerships can provide access to new markets, customers, and resources, which can help a business to expand and become more profitable.

The single most important decision in forming a partnership is choosing the right partner and factors to consider include personal assets, compatible personalities, clear roles, shared responsibilities, and aligned goals for the business.

The strategic partnership should be formed with a written agreement to ensure that roles, responsibilities, and profit distribution are clearly established. When creating the agreement, decide between a general partnership or a limited partnership. In a general partnership, all partners have equal responsibility for the business's debts and liabilities and the right to participate in its management. In a limited partnership, one party has unlimited liability as a general partner, while the other has limited liability and doesn't participate in management.

Unleash the potential of strategic partnerships with PetroCONNECT

With years of experience in the fuel retail industry, PetroCONNECT can provide the tools and knowledge to guide your journey to becoming a successful dealer.

  • Fuel Retail 101: Not sure if the fuel retail industry is right for you? This online programme is your starting point, covering a wide range of topics for an in-depth look into service station operations.
  • Readiness Programme: An essential step for any aspiring dealer, Readiness Programme provides a comprehensive understanding of the fuel retail industry and identifying potential strategic partnerships.
  • Partnership Strategies: Choosing a business partner is a stressful decision, and an expensive one if you choose wrongly. PetroCONNECT’s alumni database of investors means that we have a pool of strong candidates who are willing to step up to the challenges and opportunities of a strategic partnership.

Connect with us to register for these programmes or learn more about our services.