blog eye-opening

The petrol branch can learn from innovations in the retail sector

Which choices do you have to make today as an entrepreneur? This question was raised by the author Steven van Belleghem during Fuel Day 2018, the annual event organised by BigBrother.

Dream and experiment  

For the filling station branch it comes down to these three steps.

  1. Think like Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon). If he were to build a filling station, what would that look like?
  2. What can you tackle today?
  3. Experiment: make a top 3 innovations list and start with pilots. 

The customer as guiding star

"Choose only things that have an impact on the customer,” is Steven’s advice. “The customer is your guiding star, not the technology. A customer en route is in a hurry. Focus on saving time. Shorten the time it takes to refuel and pay, for example with automatic payment. And surprise your customer with service."

Learn from McDonald

According to Steven, the petrol and carwash branch can learn from innovations in the retail sector. “I am impressed, for example, by how McDonalds with its traditionally driven process, has nevertheless introduced a totally new manner of ordering: table service.”


The way that McDonalds has personalised its products, has also impressed Steven. “If here in Belgium I indicate that I don't like cheese, they know that, so to speak, when I go into a McDonalds in Copenhagen. In addition McDonalds has set up e-delivery together with Uber; a major success with a 20 to 30 % increase as a result. McDonalds thus satisfies the customers’ growing need for service."


That degree of personalisation and service requires data. For a filling station, this means knowing how long ago a customer used the carwash, which sandwiches he prefers, which pump he has just used to fill up etc. Steven explains why this is important. "The complexity of the competition is increasing. Unique selling points no longer exist, because customers get your USP everywhere. The only way to improve your service even more, is to personalise.”

 What do you invest in?

Invest in (personalising) your customer process or in fuel innovations?  And what does the future of the electric car look like? Steven has specific advice for the petrol branch: “Invest especially in a happy customer. But don't forget to keep up with the developments of the main car manufacturers, otherwise you'll miss the boat. Electric-powered vehicles are not yet ideal when it comes to time and certainty for the customer, but I think that will be solved. And BMW and Mercedes are going flat out for the electric car."

Scheiwijk remains favourite

Is Scheiwijk still Steven's favourite Dutch filling station? "Absolutely! And I have a great story about it. I was recently driving near Utrecht late in the evening. I was hungry and wasn't much looking forward to a pre-packed snack. Lo and behold, I spotted a Scheiwijk! And again it was a very pleasant experience. Just like in Gorinchem: a delicious freshly made sandwich and attendants who were really friendly, even though it was late.”

Start by experimenting

Back to Fuel Day. For the 4th time Steven was the leading man at the 2018 edition, this time as host. "It will be my pleasure to introduce several leading companies in this domain. Two splendid stories - from De Efteling and KBC Bank - are perfect illustrations of my vision of translating the future to today. I'm going to shake the entrepreneurs awake again. And invite then to dare to dream and start experimenting."  

01 October 2018