How to run a gas station profitably

Getting tired of your boss controlling your destiny? First of all, it’s important to stop thinking like that, as you have the power to steer your ship in any direction you choose, so long as you realize you are the one who is in control of your life.


There are many ways to leave jump off the employee hamster wheel, whether it means getting involved in online e-commerce or franchising.

If you are drawn to the latter, there is a wide range of businesses you can get involved in, from lawn care to food service to gas stations.

You might be turned off by the last suggestion, but don’t dismiss the idea of running a gas station out of hand, as the first venture of Larry Polhill had him partnering with his business teacher to buy a gas station in the area.

Using what he was taught, he took the struggling business and turned around its fortunes, making it the first of many feathers in his cap that he accrued through a long career filled with success in various commercial arenas.

If you are thinking of starting your entrepreneurial journey the same way Larry did, this post will share the tips you’ll need to get your service station in the black as soon as possible.

1) Comply with all local, state, and federal regulations

As big of a pain in the butt as this step can be, you must ensure that your gas station follows all pertinent regulations.

Meeting the terms of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is the most important, as leaking gasoline can cost you many thousands of dollars in fines, plus the cost of remediating the soil.

Additionally, pay close attention to labor regulations. Taking liberties with your employees may save you some money in the short-term, but one whistle blower is all it takes to have the hammer dropped on you (plus, it’s really mean to play games with wages).

2) Establish competitive hours of operation

As with many other retail businesses, having long hours of operation is key to success, as the profit per unit of individual items is relatively small.

By exposing yourself to as many customers during the busy parts of the day, you’ll be able to sell more product, thereby boosting profits.

Optimal hours of operation will depend on the proximity of competitors, and the density of traffic in your location.

Operators with competitors within eye-shot will need to at least match their hours, while those out near a busy freeway may want to consider staying open 24 hours, if traffic volumes justify it.

3) Hire hard working and reliable employees

Despite your best efforts, you won’t be able to run a gas station all by yourself. You’ll need a team of employees to run the registers, the pumps, and to stock the shelves.

Many employers skimp on this part, thinking lowly of their team. By paying just a bit more than the average entrepreneur and working with your team members to allow them to live their lives effectively, you’ll attract higher value people, boosting your results over time.