In September 2016 the long-cherished dream of Ger Loogman became reality: he opened the first "drive-through filling station" in the world in Aalsmeer, the Netherlands. Refuel and pay automatically in less than 2 minutes, without needing to get out of your car. It doesn’t get any easier than this! During Fuel Day 2018, the annual event organised by BigBrother, Ger shared his experiences with the so-called Comfort Lane. And he called for people to be daring. “There’s enough uniformity already, try to be different.”
Ger has had this idea in his head for the last 20 years. Standing watching cars go through the car wash on the conveyor, he had a lightbulb moment: "Wouldn't it be great if you could fill up at the same time?" And now that far-sighted idea has become reality. "Yep, I was beaming at the opening. You have an idea, everyone tells you that it's crazy, and yet it works. We've even been granted a patent and a European oil company is interested."
Advantages for the customer: easier, cleaner and faster
“What we are in fact offering with the drive-through filling station, is comfort. That explains the name: Comfort Lane." And it is comfortable indeed. You drive in, run your window down and pay with your bankcard or Loogman Fuel card. Then a pump attendant does the refuelling, while the car moves forward on a conveyor. "That way, the customer stays in his car, which is really nice when it's raining or cold. The pump attendant does the work, so no dirty hands. And refuelling is 2 to 3 times faster, especially with automatic payment: Comfort Pay."
Advantages for the entrepreneur: loyalty
Customers are already discovering the drive-through filling station. At the moment, more than 1/3 of Loogman cardholders are using the Comfort Lane regularly. “For entrepreneurs, it’s one way of distinguishing their business,” says Ger. “It attracts clients. People also make special detours to come. For example, we have a lady from Beverwijk who combines a visit to the Comfort Lane with a visit to her sister, purely because she appreciates the service so much. Moreover, it creates loyalty. We clearly see that the number of Loogman Fuel cards in increasing.”
“Comfort Pay is the result of close cooperation with BigBrother (see textbox). The BigBrother system recognises the number plates, identifies Comfort Pay customers and automatically deducts the right amount. For the moment – because this is new - an employee still confirms manually whether it really is a Comfort Pay customer. Thanks to a specially developed touchscreen, this is very easy.”
Focus on hospitality
Paying at a filling station is an action ideally suited to automation. There's no loss of human contact. On the contrary, the employee can focus more on being friendly and welcoming; he has more time for a quick thumbs-up or a chat. Moreover, customers don’t seem worried about incorrect debiting. By the end of the first week, Loogman had almost 100 Comfort Pay customers. Ger is convinced that this is only the beginning: "With a bit more publicity, I think we can increase that number within a short period of time. I also expect to be able to draw in more new customers."
Refuelling and car washing: still some way away?
Refuelling and car washing in one go, is that still some way away? "On the contrary!”, says Ger. “The permit to install a Comfort Lane in one of our car washes has been granted." With that, his original idea will soon be reality.
Speaker at Fuel Day 2018
Ger Loogman shared his story with much enthusiasm and pleasure at Fuel Day 2018, the 8th edition of our annual event. "I'm going to share my experiences with the Comfort Lane. And I'm going to call for people to be daring. The fuel market is declining, we all know that. So you have to change course. And the route for that is innovation. There's enough uniformity already, try to be different. Step away from the well-trodden paths. The real risk, is doing nothing.”
BigBrother’s Just Start to fill
Comfort Pay (automatic payment) is the result of close cooperation with BigBrother (see textbox). Loogman sought a partner who could supply a system that could communicate with their own back-office system. BigBrother adjusted its automatic payment system ‘Just Start to fill’ to allow that integration. As a result, the system can be easily deployed at any filling station. Much to Ger’s delight: “Technicians develop a system, but often forget to look at it through the eyes of the customer or employee. It's really great that BigBrother also took their perspective into account and adjusted this innovative solution to our needs.”
"It fits exactly into our understanding of innovation," confirms Aart van Rooijen from BigBrother. "Thinking up innovations together that are useful. Because innovation only makes sense if it creates added value to improve your processes."