Category Archives: 2013 Summer Newsletter

6 Simple Ways to Build a Better Image

MR Petroleum Indiana After AnotherSummer is here, which means the busy traveling season is upon us! Now is an ideal time to focus on increasing your station’s curb appeal. Did you ever consider why a consumer would choose a gas station down the street rather than yours? Research has shown that it’s not always about the price. In a recent study completed by a major petroleum retailer, sites that were clean, well-lit, and well maintained did 20% to 30% more volume than those that neglected these major details. Emphasis on keeping a clean and fully functioning facility at all times can drive business from a competitor’s location to yours. The following are some recommendations and cleaning tips that will get those potential customers off of the street and onto your lot.

  1. Your price sign is often the first thing a prospective customer sees. Be sure the sign is displaying the correct price at all times. Check for missing letters or numbers and any misspelled words. If your sign is digital, make sure the lights are fully functioning.
  2. Dispensers and pump islands are your primary interaction with your customers. Nobody wants to grab dirt and grime. Clean dispensers and nozzle handles with hot soapy water to remove any gasoline sludge. Keep dispensers looking up to date by replacing torn or peeling decals with the newest version. For dented and scratched panel risers and skirts, purchase replacement pieces for a quick fix that looks new. It is important to keep pump islands clean and free of gasoline spills. Power wash or deck brush the concrete to remove stains and other dirt build up.
  3. Make your station stand out. A fresh coat of paint to your building can make it look like new. Contact your distributor for colors and paint codes. Take time to repair any areas of the c-store that need work. An attractive and fully stocked c-store can increase your overall sales.
  4. Look up…at your canopy. Check for leaks and holes, the canopy’s main function is to keep your customers dry. Touch up areas where paint is chipping or rust is present. Replace light bulbs. It is proven that consumers feel safe in a well-lit environment.
  5. Inspect your parking lot. Repair potholes or cracks in the pavement. Re-stripe faded parking lines, do not forget about repainting handicap spaces as well. Take a broom and dustpan and sweep the site fully. Walk the perimeter of your property to collect any trash laying around.
  6. Landscaping is a great way to improve the look of your site. Remove weeds and replace them with colorful inviting flowers or shrubs. Keep grass cut down and manicured for a professional look.

Seeking Rewards

RewardsSignToday’s marketplace is constantly flooded with reward programs in an effort to satisfy customers’ increasing demand for instant rebates. Gone are the days where the consumer is excited about mail-in rebates; right now it is all about instant gratification. These reward programs can keep existing customers, build loyalty, and bring new customers. Customers are after gifts, perks, cash back, and especially instant price rollbacks at the pump! With the competition for business as difficult as ever, locations are searching for opportunities to distinguish themselves and grow their customer base. Consumers are beginning to expect rebates and drive out of their way in search of those rewards. The battle lines have been drawn, with each brand or convenience store chain offering their own rewards program. Contact Countywide Petroleum Company and gain the competitive advantage to lure customers to your location.

Skimming Education and Prevention

Don’t let skimming happen at your location. Skimming is a form of fraud whereby  a customer’s credit or debit card information is stolen by “skimmers” and then used to make fraudulent purchases or withdrawals. Gas stations and ATMs are primary targets because of the use of credit and debit cards at self service terminals. It is a difficult crime to detect because the equipment is often overlooked by the untrained eye, and there is typically a lapse in time between when the information is stolen and when it is used to make fraudulent purchases. Often times these crimes go unnoticed until the customer checks their bank statement or receives a call from their financial institution. As a station operator there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your customers from these types of crimes, therefore it is important to understand how skimming works in order to prevent it.

Real Card Reader Slot FramedSkimming involves installing a piece of hardware over the credit card reader at the point of sale, typically the dispenser. Skimmers come in several forms and complexities. Some are easy to install requiring only double stick tape, while others are more complicated, requiring the removal of the faceplate of a dispenser. Once the skimming device is installed it records the numbers of all the credit cards that are used at that dispenser. Once recorded the numbers can be wirelessly or manually retrieved from the skimmer.  After the data is retrieved the perpetrators encode the card numbers onto fake credit, debit or gift cards. These cards are then used to make fraudulent purchases.

skimmer device framed

The most effective way to stop skimming at your location is spotting it before it happens. Train your employees to identify what a card skimmer looks like and schedule time during each day to inspect the dispensers. Provide photos of what the card dispenser should look like. If a customer is spending too long at a dispenser or appears to be tampering with the credit card reader, inspect it after they leave to be sure it has not been manipulated. If you notice someone around your station on a computer or cell phone for long periods of time they could be downloading the data wirelessly.  Be cautious of non-scheduled maintenance to your dispensers, as scammers will pose as technicians and install skimmers during “maintenance”.

If you believe you have detected a skimmer, take the suspected dispenser offline and notify the police. Do not try to confront or detain suspected skimmers. If you have confirmed a skimmer at your location you should inform your bank, credit and debit card processor and your dispenser technician. There is not a foolproof plan to prevent skimming at your station, but being aware of the problem and taking the steps to prevent and detect it is good for your business and your customers.

A True Hero

DonBowersBorderedDon Bowers is a hard-working, humble and determined man with the tenacity and dedication of a true hero. He has been through many trials, tribulations, and just plain beat downs, but has always managed to get back up. Don’s determination was formed early in his life.  He was born during the Baby Boom era, an “after war baby” he says with a smile. He grew up in New Kensington, Pennsylvania along with 2 brothers and 1 sister.  At the age of 14, Don’s father was killed in an automobile accident, a tragic loss and an incredible obstacle to overcome, one of many life would throw at him.

After graduating from New Kensington High School Don worked as a floral designer at a flower shop. His desire to develop himself and the business drove him to pursue further schooling for floral design. Don moved to Connecticut to put down some roots and start the next phase of his life. Things were calm… but a storm approached.

In May of 1967 Don was drafted into the army, an experience that would test his courage and shape him into the man he is today. Due in part to his leadership qualities, he quickly made it to the rank of Sergeant. Five months into his service, Don was sent on a search and destroy mission, a mission that would forever change his life. It was New Years Eve 1967, Sergeant Don Bowers stepped onto an enemy mine and lost his leg, a devastating injury requiring 11 months in the hospital. Now what could he do? Don was an honorable, courageous and dedicated Veteran, a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He had a lot to offer, but no one wanted to hire him because of his disability.  He wound up back at a flower shop, the only business that would offer him employment.


In 1970 Don’s mother in-law at the time had a job at an oil company called E.F. Houghton. She could no longer handle the position and asked Don if he wanted to try out for it. He did, and his career in the petroleum industry was born. In the beginning, the petroleum field was brutal, a lot of “knock downs and drag outs” Don remarked. “There were really tough people to work for, but if you stuck it out, you would learn a lot.” And that is what Don did, it was in his character. His success in this industry came from sheer determination. He worked his way up the ladder and learned nearly every aspect of the business. He made a lasting friendship with the toughest guy he ever worked for, Don Smith. It was Don vs. Don for nearly 12 years. It was a tough but invaluable learning experience. Smith gave Bowers a real backbone in this business.

In his current position as manager of petroleum products and transportation at Countywide Petroleum Company, Don has finally been able to work with a little more ease because of the way the company operates. Don’s vast knowledge and experience has taught him the best way to get things done for his customers. With the company, management and employees all working together, inspired by Don’s dedication and tenacity, his career in the oil industry and all those touched by him will continue to thrive. Don’s strength of character carries through to his wife Tina, their four children, four grandchildren, and even the great-grandchild on the way! Despite his numerous achievements in life, Don still possesses that burning desire from within to push forward and achieve more, and he has no plans to change any time soon.