Evolve attend Forecourt Trader Summit Event 2024.

Forecourt Trader Summit
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Lancashire, UK – 2024

On Tuesday, Evolve attended Forecourt Trader‘s 2024 annual summit. The summit was a precursor to their annual Top 50 Indie event, an evening celebrating independent forecourts across the UK. 

Neil Muttock, Dean Lord of Evolve, found the summit incredibly insightful, gathering knowledge of the industry across a number of topics, including the increase in crime, the rise of EV charging, the concerns for the National Grid, and the importance of convenience. 

Increase in Forecourt Crime 

One of the most important topics across the course of the day was the rise in crime across forecourts; this includes ‘drive-offs’, individuals having no means to pay, as well as physical crimes against staff. This is becoming an increasing issue for forecourts; however, there is little consequence for the actions of these crimes. As a result, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) is working tirelessly alongside the local authorities to combat this issue. 

As part of this discussion, the speaker highlighted the significance of the lack of consequence, pointing out that individuals are naming it the ‘Forecourt 7-day loan’ meaning that they are not paying for their fuel and simply filling out a form that alerts the DVLA that they have not paid; however, they know that this has little to no consequence.

In fact, an outstanding 2 out of 5 forecourt workers have admitted to receiving abuse on a weekly basis, which is therefore having a direct impact on their mental health. Moreover, 2 out of 5 forecourt workers are considering leaving. 

In order to combat the above, forecourts are integrating more technology in the form of VR, advanced CCTV with facial recognition, and, more significantly, body cameras, to increase staff safety. With this comes a demand for higher bandwidth and the need for a secure and reliable network. 

The Rise of EV Charging 

A further topic of discussion at the summit was the rise of EV charging and the long-term investments to purchase EVs, which are leading to an undeniable increase in dwell time. As we look to the future, forecourts are having to consider a variety of new prospects, such as forecourts being the primary destination where people charge their cars, the increase in demand for convenience, and also the changing requirements of the forecourt. 

As we progress, we are seeing forecourts becoming destinations rather than simply fuel purchases. For example, since BP’s partnership with M&S Food, they are seeing shoppers becoming predominantly store-only rather than fuel. 


A further discussion around the EV charging movement is the concern for the National Grid and whether it can physically support the increase in EV charging. Further fuels are being introduced into the market, such as hydrogen, in order to aid the demand on the national grid. 

Convenience 

Tout’s innovative independent forecourt, which won forecourt of the year 2023, is paving the way for future forecourts, recognising the change from fuel-only forecourts to becoming ‘local centres’. Jonathan Tout understands that each individual forecourt should provide a variety of different services rather than whole geographical areas providing the same facilities; he understands the demand for more specific services such as hairdressers or salons and how dwell time can be utilised productively. 

Currently, the second reason customers are looking for at a forecourt is convenience and access to a good-quality convenience store. People are looking to them for their weekly shop, or ‘food for now, food for later, as Joanne Hall of BP coined the term. Jonathan Tout is predicting forecourts will become ‘local centres’ offering a variety of different facilities. 

Convenience is currently the second reason people visit a forecourt, but it is important to recognise that it will only grow; could it become the first reason people visit?

Customer Service 

A further key topic of conversation in relation to forecourts is customer service. 62% of customers deem customer service to be an extremely important consideration when choosing to go back to a forecourt. Customer service is not simply about the customer-facing conversation; it is about ensuring the whole experience is seamless for the customer, especially technology-wise. If your connectivity is down at your forecourt, it can lead to your payment terminals being down, CCTV not working, and gift cards slowing down, which will all in turn lead to a negative experience for the customer. 

All of the above require a significant increase in connectivity. The increase in dwell time as well as a rise in card transactions mean that your connectivity will be stretched to its limits. Evolve’s scalable and secure Internet connectivity solution can help take your forecourt on a journey of transformation. 

End

About Evolve Business Group and Evolve

Evolve Business Group is an independently owned company that specialises in providing end-to-end IT and managed network solutions to a range of businesses. Evolve is helping businesses to reduce costs and simplify the management of services and give business owners and their teams more time to do what they do best.

Founded in 2005, it has worked with a variety of customers across different industries around the world, building a team of highly experienced specialists to help create effective and efficient packages using any combination of different offerings. It keeps a range of cross-sector networks protected and connected.

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