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Buying at the Best Price.

Byline: Tammy Mastroberte

When Manish Sthanki decided to attend Roady's Truck Stops 2010 Annual Meeting in January of this year, the owner of Lucky Deuces Casino and Truck Stop in Duson, La., wasn't looking for someone to help manage his fuel. But during the trip - a cruise from Miami to the Bahamas - he started talking to a representative from FuelQuest Inc. and realized he might be able to save money.

"We started talking and he asked to take a look at my numbers, because he thought he could save me some money," said Sthanki. "When he analyzed my numbers, we realized FuelQuest could save me at least 4 to 5 cents per gallon because of the purchasing power it has by buying in bulk."

Roady's serves as a membership-based buying group for the truck stop and c-store industries, allowing companies to leverage fuel marketing and corporate buying power through its programs. And by buying large amounts, FuelQuest is able to get cheaper pricing for clients such as Lucky Deuces, which is a Roady's Truck Stops location.

The previous company Sthanki purchased fuel from bought through a local refinery and charged him the rack - or wholesale - price, but was "very vague on what the definition of rack price was," he noted, explaining FuelQuest's Fuel Center gives prices to him based on the OPIS (Oil Price Information Service) price, which is a standard published rate.

"Now I know if I am paying OPIS plus or OPIS minus, and I know I am getting discounted fuel," he said. "I signed the contract with FuelQuest because I know I will be paying OPIS minus 3 or 4 cents at the maximum, and if I can get the cheapest price, I know I can pass it on to my customers. If I can generate traffic in my store because I have the cheapest fuel price, everything else works itself out."

Through its Fuel Center program, FuelQuest sources, monitors, replenishes and reconciles retail motor fuel for Lucky Deuces, taking the burden off Sthanki, who in the past had to stay on top of his fuel supplier to make sure he was always in stock.

"FuelQuest knows when fuel prices are going to go up, so it makes sure it buys more when the price goes down, and not as much when it's higher," Sthanki said. "A regular supplier isn't going to do that."

Fuel Center leverages the FuelQuest team of industry experts, along with its Fuel Management Solution (FMS) to monitor the fuel levels at Lucky Deuces, place orders for it as needed, and review all invoices before notifying Sthanki to pay the supplier via an automated clearing house (ACH) transaction, Sthanki explained.

Although he just recently started with FuelQuest, Sthanki said "so far it has done a fantastic job." Lucky Deuces now receives each fuel delivery within four hours of ordering, rather than waiting a 24-hour period as in the past. In addition to the location's 10 unleaded and premium gasoline stations, FuelQuest also buys diesel fuel for the six tanks on the site.

Sthanki pays a $1,000 annual fee and a monthly administrative fee to FuelQuest for the Fuel Center service, and said he didn't pilot the system, but signed a five-year contract offering the option to cancel within 60 days if the program didn't work for him.

By utilizing the program, Sthanki is able to better compete with the big chains that can purchase larger amounts and get better deals. "As a single-location truck stop, I have to be able to compete against bigger franchises," he said. "Fuel Center is the best solution for my business today and for the future. Its management services and significant fuel buying network will provide the competitive advantage I need to expand."
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Author:Mastroberte, Tammy
Publication:Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner
Date:Oct 1, 2010
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