Making things better for fleet drivers and managers: Why Shell are investing in service stations.
From overpriced food to severe limits on parking times, it’s no secret that service stations can leave a lot to be desired. The widely varying standard of services for professional drivers has long been a cause for concern in the fleet world and could be damaging driver safety and wellbeing, with motorists discouraged from taking breaks due to poor facilities.
A recent study conducted by the RAC found that nearly nine in 10 drivers think UK service stations offer poor value for money, while a large proportion described these stop-offs as “not a pleasurable experience”.
One survey found 45% of drivers didn’t stop at service stations as they believed the food, drinks and snacks to be overpriced. The same survey by Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found the majority (65%) said they didn’t stop simply because they didn’t feel they had to despite breaks being essential for drivers’ health and safety.
Poor facilities may also be responsible for the industry’s gender imbalance. Rob Flello MP, former chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport notes, “facilities are bad enough for men, and poor or non-existent for women”.
That’s why improving service stations is key to ensuring a better future for fleet managers and drivers. Turning these essential stop-offs into enjoyable experiences can radically change how drivers feel about their work; increasing comfort, efficiency, safety and job satisfaction.
While apps like MotorwayBuddy are enabling fleet drivers to seek out better roadside services, Shell are working to make good services the rule rather than the exception.
Beaconsfield, near the M25 J16, is one of the 1000+ sites Shell are investing in. With its comfortable and bright buildings, surrounded by lake and woodland, Beaconsfield shows how service should be done. Its up-to-date facilities have earned Beaconsfield a place as one of best service stations in Europe, boasting award-winning washrooms, eateries for all tastes and big screen sports.
István Kapitány’s, Shell’s head of retail, is no stranger to the forecourt. Every quarter, he spends a day working at a petrol station – not just “smiling and giving advice”, but doing a full 12-hour shift. Because of this, he understands the challenges facing fleet managers and drivers. Kapitány says Shell has spent “quite a bit of money” since 2012 revamping 400 of its UK petrol stations – increasing capacity, adding parking spaces and installing DHL pick-up points.
Improving the convenience of service stations is top of Shell’s priorities. Better retail options and mobile banking are just some of the ways things are getting easier for drivers.
Kapitány continues: “We are seeing a huge number of people coming to service stations who are not filling up their cars. They are coming in to buy breakfast, to get a cup of coffee, to get their car washed. Their need for convenience retail is more frequent than their car’s need for fuel”.
With forecourt innovation, Shell are also investing in an environmentally sustainable future for fleet drivers. Entering into a joint venture with Daimler and others, Shell are exploring methods of commercialising hydrogen gas for more eco-friendly vehicles and testing out solar panel powered stations at China’s truck stops.