Fuel retailers are extremely passionate about their business. They have to be to deal with all the daily aggro whether it’s stock problems, equipment breakdowns, needy customers, or those wretched drivers who seem to think they can drive off without paying for fuel.

They also have to be passionate to make the huge investment in time and money that it takes to build a state-of-the-art location such as the Chartman Group’s Winning Post site in Exeter (page 21). It took years of dealing with planning officials, burdensome bureaucracy, tactically waiting for the Little Chef next door to shut down, along with all the decisions that go into a major construction project. But eventually the work was completed and the company achieved its goal of creating a ’flagship’ site that would turn heads.

It is also this kind of passion that has seen so many entries for our Forecourt Trader awards. The first round of judging is completed and we were amazed at the number of developments in the past year, the number of retailers sticking their necks out to invest in their businesses to make them look better, work better, and make them more successful.

Trouble is, it’s this kind of passion that also makes retailers extremely upset when they get a visit from our Shop Doctor who declines to give them five stars in each category. Point one, he never does. He has no agenda, he speaks as he finds, observing what he sees and experiences as a customer, and then offers business advice from the point of view of a retailer with long experience in the industry. Like any customer, he might visit your site on the wrong day when certain things aren’t quite as they should be; or he might not be familiar with why things have been done in a certain way. Nor are your customers.

He may have got the wrong impression of Rusdene Garage’s Meon Hut site. When I saw it, I would have given it five stars. This month we’re doing on-the-road judging so make sure your sites are in five star order!