Well it’s that time again; time to complete the HMRC rates form showing, in a nutshell, how my business has performed over the past three years. I suspect that for many of us it will reveal just how much our sector has changed.
Reliance on fuel profitability has greatly reduced, and our shops have become the dominant part of our business. Indeed for many of us, we are now a "convenience store that sells petrol" where the symbol partner is now helping to maintain fuel volumes. Gone are the days where the fuel volume drove shop sales.
It is perhaps the beleaguered car wash that will show the largest drop in sales over this period. Under-investment and attack from hand wash rogues mean the falling sales figures will be a stark reminder that times are tough.
What we need from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the government is help help to rebuild this shattered part of our business. Having embarked on the programme of valuing petrol stations on turnover and market rents, some fantastic sites have changed hands with startlingly high rents. The result is that they have, in effect, burdened other locations with the same expectations of value. There are clearly different market values for the same style operation in different parts of the country.
The rateable value (RV) is calculated taking into account the litres sold, shop turnover and wash turnover. To add insult to injury, I now find myself providing a 24-hour ATM for my community which makes no return at all. In particular, the wash element of the calculation has been utilised to balance the numbers of an unfair method of calculation.
Interestingly there are now plenty of examples of hand washes renting wash bays. We should not be persecuted for running a more successful, higher turnover business. In the high street, the Poundshop and the jeweller with identical stores side by side both have the same RVs.
Come on VOA do the right thing.
Value car washes by average rent and either calculate shop rates by size of shop or value standalone convenience stores by turnover. Either we go down or they go up.
All I want to see is a level playing field.