Filling Station Area Manager
Total has a network of around 17,000 service stations spread across the world. Dynamic marketing, diversified marketing channels, repair services, quality product ranges matching customer demand... all contribute to the supremacy of Total and Elf brand retailing. The Retailers are owner-operators with whom Total has entered into supply and distribution agreements. The Area Manager is responsible for renewing these agreements and seeks out new development opportunities. His or her responsibility includes the economic outcome of negotiations and maintaining a high level of quality. In addition, he or she motivates and mobilises his or her retail partners in national campaigns.
As far as the Agency stations are concerned, the Area Manager has the task of supervising and supporting the managers of some twenty service stations owned by Total, in all of their activities. He or she recruits them, advises them on management affairs and directs implementation of the merchandising and marketing policy and sales promotion campaigns in the field. The Area Manager's effectiveness is measured mainly by sales and margins in all activities of the stations, not just fuel sales: car wash, servicing bays, shop, etc. He or she must control the management performance indicators, the training of retailers and ensure that the products and services meet local market demand.
The attributes of the position are acquired in the field. Juniors go through an induction period of around three years in ageographical sector, in France and sometimes in Europe depending on the opportunities available. They begin with atraining course, part of which is based at a service station, then take up the duties of Area Manager (managing andleading a group of 25 to 30 stations).
The post of Filling Station Area Manager is the standard entry point into petroleum distribution, which Total carries on inmore than 70 countries. The junior Area Manager may remain with Network Management where his or her practical experience may be assessed in operational marketing and business or investment policy. He or she can also move on to other Group management departments at headquarters or in subsidiaries.
- Graduate of Business Schools or university third stage in management.
- Pragmatism, mobility essential, availability, good interpersonal skills, capacity to lead and motivate a team.
- Fluent English, a second foreign language desirable for career development.
Experiences of Alban T.
Nationality: French – Age: 31
Filling Station Area Manager – Based in Paris (France)
Licence (B.Sc.) in Economics and Diploma from Lyon Business School
An operational role
I manage a profit centre made up of 23 service stations located in the county of l’Oise. I am the primary contact of the operators and am responsible for the economic performance of each station. These stations are divided into three categories: 13 agents, 7 commission agents and 3 dealers.
Agency stations belong to Total which engages a limited company to run them. Commission agent and dealer stations are independently owned by garages such as car dealerships.
My first assignment was to manage the contractual relationship between Total and these stations. I negotiated the contract (commission, licence fees) and monitored the volumes of fuels sold. I also sought to develop
the quality policy of the stations in terms of services, reception and tidiness, and also in terms of compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations.
I chose this job because it offers a very hands-on role. You must be available and ready to react to the wide range of demands from operators and also to requirements from headquarters, suppliers, service providers… I travel between three and four days a week; for the remaining time I carry out administrative tasks from home. I visit each managed station on average once a month and those operated on commission and by dealers once every three months.
For example, twice a year, I have to inventory physical fuel stocks at each station by tank dipping. Differences between the book inventory and the stock actually present may reveal equipment problems or enable us to identify errors in sales monitoring or fuel deliveries.
Delegated business management
Relations with the independently managed stations take up a large part of my time. I give advice on recruiting managers. I check that their profile matches the characteristics of the vacant station and ensure that they can work in close partnership with Total.
I then produce a three-year business plan for the limited company: On one hand I set targets for sales and margins on shop trade, car-wash and car servicing. On the other hand I set out the level of charges that the
limited company must follow.
Every month, I analyse with the operators the sales of each type of product (drinks, sandwiches, car accessories, ...) or each service (car wash, car repair, ...). My objective is the same as that of the limited company: to increase sales. To achieve this, I assist the operators in setting up merchandising and marketing tools provided by headquarters. Our relationship is one of a partnership, the effects of which I can measure immediately. It is highly motivating.
Experiences of Aurélie P.
Nationality: French – Age: 24
Card Area Manager – Based in Paris (France)
Audencia School of Management, Nantes
At present I manage a very varied portfolio of around 700 customers, from SMEs to national groups. I market the Group's fuel charge card to companies to help them control their fuel bills.
A varied range of products and services...
and close attention to customers
Fuel cards, called "cartes Grands Routiers" or GR in France, are solely for companies operating fleets of vehicles. These cards can be used to pay for fuel, motorway toll charges and some parking charges, and they avoid the need for advance payments and expenses receipts. What Total offers with these cards are tools for monitoring and controlling costs. For many companies, fuel is a significant item that must be optimised.
As Card Area Manager, I deal with businesses consuming more than 6,000 litres of fuel per month. Beyond that, the account is handled by
telesales people. My role is to assist my customers in the day-to-day management of their vehicle fleets. This requires me to listen to and understand the problems of each contact and suggest the tools that best meet their needs. A transport business for example has different problems from a company managing a fleet of vehicles used by staff. The
variety of customers I deal with is a really rewarding aspect of our work.
In addition to maintaining the loyalty of my existing customers, I also recruit new ones. The fuel card offering is absorbing but complex, and we are up against increasing competition. So winning new contracts requires good interpersonal and negotiating skills, and constant attention to what customers want.
Frequently in the field with a wide variety of contacts
I work at home but travel regularly to meet customers or prospects. As part of my work, I prepare membership applications and new offer subscription forms, I negotiate terms and conditions and must be alert to the risk incurred with certain customers in order to be reactive if an incident occurs (involving payment for example).
I have the support of a back-office team in my day-to-day tasks.
In conclusion, the job of Card Area Manager is very interesting in the sense that we offer a fine product to a huge variety of people, who are increasingly influenced by price: therefore we must defend our product daily against competing offers.
The plus factors for me? The reputation of the Group, the quality of our product and related services and very often the size of our network!