Published Sep 3, 2020 2:00:09 PM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Have you ever considered being your own boss in the fuel industry?
It may be an underrated sector, but entering the oil business and running your own gas station is not as complicated as people think it is.
The popular choice these days is to start with food and drink as a business venture, but owning and running gasoline stations could be just as rewarding and exciting.
Oil prices may dip and soar, but the demand is bound to go up in the long term.
We talked to three leading women who made the bold decision to put up their own gasoline stations and shared some tips on how to make it work.
It takes serious commitment to decide to invest in putting up a gasoline station, as it means shelling out a sizeable investment too. But it's wrong to assume that you wouldn't be able to make things work.
This was exactly the story of Malou Agcaoili, who decided to resign from her long-time job 20 years ago as a former cashier to brand manager of several gas stations and eventually owning one herself. While she may be making earnest money as an employee, she knew she could make much more if she ran her own place. And so, she did.
From one retail site, she now owns four gasoline stations in Metro Manila and is looking to add another. For her, hard work, dedication, and a lot of creativity went a long way to secure her investments and provide a very comfortable life for her family.
This was also the story of Carolyn Escuadro, a veteran banker from Cotabato City who managed to put up two stations of her own in Davao. About 18 years ago, she and her husband were considering to either work abroad or to try and put up their own business here. They chose the latter and never looked back, dubbing it as one of the best decisions they have ever made.
Putting up your own business doesn't make you an instant millionaire. In fact, it will take quite a while to make the returns and may even need additional capital as you go. This shouldn't be taken as something negative. Sometimes, all it takes is patience.
Joyce Villanueva is only 21 but is slowly but surely learning the ropes. Her family opened their own gas station in April 2019 and she was given the task of managing its day-to-day affairs straight out of college. It took a lot of effort and adjustments at first, like how she would deal with employees who were way older than her. She knew it's a process she couldn't just skip.
She also didn't know a lot about the business until she was tasked to handle it. The past year got her directly involved in the station's operations. Now, she knows how to monitor fuel inventory by herself, how to make the most of oil price fluctuations, and the highs and lows of sales each year. She got to apply these lessons to her finances, too.
"Investing requires patience, you can't really say what's going to happen. With this pandemic, it's going to take much longer for us to get a return on investments, so you have to be financially prepared," Villanueva shared.
It's tempting to just sit back and relax once the return on investments finally come, but that's not the correct way to ensure your profits are sustainable. It takes creativity and persistence to ensure a steadily-growing stream of revenues.
Sales volumes change throughout the year, with the so-called "Ber" months considered the peak season and the rest of the year as the lean months.
It's all about choosing or making the right conditions to make the business profitable. The key to this would be the location. Villanueva said their family's gas station is right on a busy bypass road in Bulacan, which makes it accessible for passing cars. On top of that, she said their family has standing agreements with trucking services and warehouses nearby who load up their equipment through their station, accounting for about half of their monthly sales.
It doesn't stop there: dressing up a gas station with other stores and services would make your outlet busier, especially when you brand it as a one-stop-shop. That was Agcaoili's secret to success: a client would be able to gas up, buy their needs from a 7-Eleven, get their car checked and tuned, get a burger, and even buy a cup of milk tea in one place. You can hit two birds with one stone here too, as 7-Eleven is a solid partner of the Caltex brand.
It was how she set her stations apart from the rest. "You have to be creative to get more sales and survive," she said, pointing out how putting complementary businesses together meant additional foot traffic in these establishments.
Another secret to success is having the right partner to get through the highs and lows of running a business. Having a good one by your side will help you grow while having an unsupportive one could spell your downfall.
These three entrepreneurs all wrote their success stories with Caltex, which has been a reliable associate who assisted them in putting up their stations and even through years of operations.
"Caltex, as a global brand, treats its dealers not just as partners with contracts but treats franchisees as a family," Escuadro said, adding Caltex has always been ready to provide support to keep operations afloat even through bumpy situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agcaoili also cited the solid support and motivation provided by the Caltex brand, saying they have been offering trainings to dealers and their own staff so they can elevate the quality of service they offer to customers. It's also easy to attract customers too, given that the brand is known worldwide.
After enduring the initial grind in starting up a business, give yourself time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Agcaoili and Escuadro both shared that this was their favorite part of their Caltex journey, on top of financial rewards and incentives they regularly receive.
Through the company, the two were able to explore the Philippines and the rest of the world as a reward for the strong profits generated by their stations. They have been to the United States, Dubai, and Australia as part of incentive tours, where they were accommodated in luxury hotels each time.
Caltex can be your reliable partner for your newest business venture, with fresh opportunities to enter the market and even more reasons to stay. To know more, visit www.caltex.com/ph/investors. You may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (02)-88677710 / (02) - 77937600.