After winning a coveted Forecourt Trader Award - Behind The Business takes the unprecedented step of revisiting JET Humber Refinery to catch up with SSO, Andrew Smith to get the low down on what has been an exceptional 12 months.
Congratulations on winning a coveted Forecourt Trader Award! How does it feel and what does it means to you as a business?
I’m looking at it as we speak! So great to have won it. It’s like an industry pat on the head - ‘well done, good job’. And that feels good -for me and the whole team. A great piece of validation for all the hard work, from everyone, since the reopening. Having something physical - that we can all see that represents the effort, is especially gratifying. It really is a boost for the whole business - and shows we’re on the right track.
It’s now a year since Humber Refinery – JET’s flagship site – reopened following an extensive KDRB. Can you give us an overview of the last 12 months and any highlights?
We expected it to do well, but we had no idea of how well. It’s felt (feels!) like a race. We stepped back on the track 12 months ago and we’ve been flat out ever since! We’ve blown our expectations out of the water. Sales figures, in some areas, not just doubling but tripling. It’s just fantastic. In terms of highlights - there have been many but if I had to choose just one, it would be our relationship with the community. We’ve managed to pull the village in - who not only use as for fuel but now see us as their local. I’m proud of that and the relationships that are stronger than ever. So rather than being viewed as just a transient truck site - we have now been fully adopted by our immediate community. Also a big shout out to JET for helping us achieve this by keeping the fuel prices keen and competitive. It makes a huge difference - because word gets around and people seek us out.
When we last spoke you mentioned that the new look site was attracting new customers – has that trend continued and have some of those customers become regulars?
Yes and yes! We stand out for all the right reasons and we have a complete offer for all drivers that makes us hard to ignore - and for all the right reasons.
You guys now have a dedicated HGV entrance/facilities – is this a busy part of the business and what has been the reaction of the drivers?
This site is now very easy for our HGV customers to use. The access has been massively improved which means no more queues and they can get straight on to the site to fill up. This alone has made a huge difference and is much appreciated by the drivers. Capacity has also increased and to say we’re busy is a massive understatement! We used to do 20 million litres per year and are currently on track to hit 50 million. A lot of people used to by-pass us as they couldn’t get here - now it’s easy. The layout is clear and intuitive - easy to navigate and no dramas!
We also offer Renewable Diesel which is a brilliant lower carbon option. It’s rare to offer this in a portfolio of fuel options - in-fact I can’t think of another garage that does.
At Humber you have a dedicated EV charger point – how has it been received by your customers?
Really well received and it looks great – modern and stylish. It couldn’t be simpler - charge up and contactless pay with no minimum spend. Quick, straightforward - really good.
The shop and the Food To Go offer very quickly became one of the busiest in the network – has that continued and what are your bestsellers?
Still going strong and still growing. We have two big sellers from the Deli - a bacon cheeseburger but the ‘golden’ offer is the chicken stacker burger - we sell between 50 and 80 of those per day! It’s great how the forecourt and the shop ostensibly feed each other - often two hits from one visit.
If you had to pick a standout moment from the last 12 months - what would it be?
I think there are two. Nicholas Baker, who used to run the site, came back with some of the guys from JET and he was really impressed. That felt like a special moment and of course the award. That recognition was appreciated and felt good – for all of us.
And if you had to choose three words to sum up the last year – what would they be?
Expectations exceeded and rewarding.
What are you looking forward to in 2023 and what are the ongoing ambitions for JET Humber Refinery?
I want to get more service options in – Tango Ice Blast, F’real Milkshakes etc - plus more diversified and premium products in the shop. I would also love to have the JET Wash facilities back and parking for the trucks - this would make us even more of a destination. We’re an award-winning site – but we are always looking for ways to make it even better!