Trimark Petroleum Group News

Reseller Boosts Image with "Pit Stop Express" Theme
Marketing Minute -

Creating a unique, positive buying experience is key to building loyal customers at your service station and convenience store. Tasco Reseller Al Jiwani's emphasis on customer service and energetic imaging set his convenience stores apart from the competition. Team Tosco caught up with Jiwani to get some details about how his company has built a chain for successful convenience stores in the Northwest.

Al Jiwani, President of Trimark Petroleum Group, will humbly tell you that he is no expert when it comes to being a successful Tosco reseller and convenience store owner and operator. Looking at what he has accomplished since opening his first 76 site just two years ago, however, it's obvious that his business is racing full speed ahead.

Jiwani opened his first 76 site in 1998, and since then he has expanded to three Washington locations in the Puget Sound area, with three more sites breaking ground next year. In December of 1999, Jiwani came up with a new concept for his convenience stores. He wanted something with lots of energy – something with bright colors and an image of movement. He and his company's executive team brainstormed and cam up with a racing oriented theme.

Pit Stop Express convenience stores feature race car graphics throughout their interiors, along with pictures of special racing graphics near the coffee and soda fountain area. His company also created a special logo to tie in the theme. Jiwani says the most exiting part of the Pit Stop Express imaging concept is that it is working – sales are up in most categories.

"We love the concept because it is a proprietary image that ties in with our company goals," says Jiwani. Jiwani isn't the only one to find the Pit Stop Express concept fresh and appealing. Customers have given him a tremendous amount of positive feedback. "Customers say they really like the Pit Stop Express concept because it has lots of movement," says Jiwani. "Since it is reaching oriented, it really wakes people up when they come in."

Jiwani feels so strongly about the positive impact of the Pit Stop Express imaging program that he's actually planning to incorporate it into each of other existing convenience store location in the near future. Also, as his locations continue to grow, Jiwani is focusing on the multiple-profit locations including services stations, convenience stores, car washes, drive through espresso stands and event partnerships with major fast food corporations, which owns, runs and handles the day to day operations of its restaurants independently.

According to Jiwani, fast food corporations are usually agreeable to this arrangement, as both companies benefit. The arrangement, however, should be planned well before the location is built, since there must be enough room to operate both businesses. "To co-brand, the site needs to be around 2 acres," notes Jiwani. "You need space for a drive-through along with enough room for the pumps, the convenience store and lots of parking." Jiwani also advises those who are looking to co-brand to be sure and protect their business interest. "Be careful, because all though it is a terrific opportunity, the fast-food corporations are experts in real estate," he said. "You need to be cautious and watch your own interest."

To pursue a co-branding opportunity, Jiwani recommends contacting the potential fast-food chain's corporate headquarters and coordinating with the company's regional real estate department. Though Al Jiwani has used co-branded and imaging to build his business, he feels these things are just icing on the cake. The most important part of building a business, he says, is customer serve.

Trimark has developed an internal employee handbook and uses videos to help train its employees. New employees also work closely with a seasoned cashier for several days before working independently. "With customer service, its amazing what a simple hello or thank you can do," he says. "Customer service is really the key for us. If you treat the customer well, they will be loyal."