Less than 50 years ago, the average person would pull into a Service Station for gasoline and was greeted by a front end man, let’s call him Lou.  The customer usually asked for $10 or $20 worth of gas and paid for it with cash or a gas company credit card.  Now the only thing that is similar is that the customer pulls in and gets gas.

The old time service station was usually populated by a couple men, Lou and his less social buddy, Marty.  Lou pumped the gas when a customer came in, announced by the customer’s car rolling over a pneumatic hose that rang a bell in the “office” of the station.  Marty was usually grease covered and working in one of the two or more bays where cars were serviced – oil changed, tires replaced or rotated, and other repairs made.

Now station attendants only exist in very rare situations.  Cash is no longer the regular currency of exchange and even gas company company credit cards have been virtually extinct since the 80’s.  And Marty and Lou work somewhere else.

It is very hard to find a gas station with service bays, or the men who would change your oil and pump your gas.  In fact, most gas stations are staffed with women, not men.  I say gas stations instead of service stations, because they are virtually all self service.

The transition has been quite rapid, especially considering the fact that the basic set up had not changed much in the previous 50 years.

We worked with Texaco back in the 80s on their transition project.  They had the real estate and wanted to figure out what to do with it.  Cars were becoming more complicated, with dealer required maintenance.  This took the cars back to the dealerships due to warranty or the more complicated technology of the vehicles. As a result, consumers were heading back to their dealerships for service.

That was leaving Marty with less to do and more liability in trying to do it without the factory training.  Texaco had real estate that wasn’t earning money.  The first forays into selling snacks brought immediate profits that were almost unbelievable.  These were sold in kiosks where gas payments were also made.  Customers were spending more time in their cars and wanted to eat and snack while they drove.

We looked at other uses for the buildings, since maintenance was declining: dry cleaning drop offs, photo developing (yes that was before digital cameras), and other ideas.  Food and drinks seemed to come back strong every time.

We also helped Sunoco as they transitioned to convenience stores located in place of the service bays.

And now, we really can’t call them service stations.  Fueling stations, I guess.  With electric charging soon to be added, or the Tesla Supercharger stops will scoop the business away.

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