Can LSS Improve Petrol Station Retail Business?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Industries Retail Can LSS Improve Petrol Station Retail Business?

This topic contains 7 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Norbert Feher 3 years, 7 months ago.

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    Hello All.
    Recently I was made responsible for improving the petrol station retail business.
    Their main concern is they end up having very long queue and its difficult to manage the crowd. When it comes to management, they are also very much reluctant in implementing suggested points.

    Whether lean Six Sigma is really suitable for Petrol Station retail business??

    Please suggest your view.


    Shelby Jarvis

    The simple answer is yes.

    I assume you want help starting. Below are some steps inspired by six sigma but without the full process or compliment of tools. Based on your comments, I have assumed you are not fully trained.

    Step 1: You must define the actual problem. Above, you defined two symptoms. A long queue and a difficult to manage crowd (resulting from the queue.) You need to investigate to determine more about the queue. Below are a few ideas to investigate. The trick is to think about these and add your own thoughts based on being in the store.

    * Is the queue always long, or does is change in length? When is it long, when is it short, what happens to cause this? Does it change with time of day? Does it change with day of the week? You should directly observe this. You can now write a problem statement with a little more clarity.
    * Meet with the management team to see if they agree with your newly written problem statement. If yes, then you can move on, if no, get their input as to the problem. If you do not come to an agreement of the problem, you cannot move forward.
    * Assuming you have an agreed to problem. Set goals. You want to improve the service from current state (length of wait for customers) to desired state (maximum length of wait). Did you notice the metric is related to the time in the customers eyes? This is important as you actually have a customer service problem and the improvement should benefit the customer.
    * Based on your observation, define the scenarios which have too long of wait time. From this, you can select what you need to measure. Is it number of items per customer? Number of Lotto tickets sold? Is it special products? Do you have other activities happening at the same time which interfere with servicing the customer? Again, you need to define what you will measure, these are just potential ideas.
    * Take your measurements over time. If it happens only on Tuesdays, then plan on measuring multiple Tuesdays. If it is between 2-4PM everyday, then measure between 2-4PM on multiple days, etc.
    * Analyze your data. What did you learn? Do you have any ideas on reasons for pore customer service?
    * Brainstorm ideas and test your solutions. You should be able to turn the problem on (make the queue long) and off ( make the queue short) if you have isolated the real problem.
    * Make the changes, communicate, and train



    Thank you Jarvis.
    That makes real sense.
    I got complete insight of problem identification.



    Perfectly possible. As Mr. Jarvis explained in his long epistle, Six sigma tools and methodology can definitely improve the petrol station retail business.

    The real challenge comes when you define the problem and identify the potential causes for the long queue. You need to collect lot of data systematically to put the things in order for analysis. Many a times we do ” atmospheric analysis” with out any data and go for hasty decisions, complicated actions and very less impact on results.

    You can use simulation techniques as well , DOE for better analysis.

    Standardization of systems and procedures, SOPs is utmost important at last to sustain the gains.

    All the best!!!



    Thank you Prabhakar..
    Right now I’m utilizing DOE technique for analysis..
    It is generating good results .
    I’m considering 4 main factors for analysis, Dispenser, Operator, Peak time and Layout to understand the queue .

    Thank you again..


    Chris Seider

    This presents itself like you’re just throwing tools at the process.

    Define your problem statement and align the project with goals of the business. Is this a corporate driven problem or a local station problem?

    Gather data and watch the process and follow DMAIC.

    My two centws.


    Philip Lowe

    I have been involved with one of the big oil companies trying to improve retail operations. As the other posters have mentioned you need to determine what you are trying to achieve. In our case we first needed to build a prioritised list of potential projects. We generated this list over a three-day workshop which included Corporate, Retail Petrol Station Area Managers, Store Managers, and Store Operators. Of course you may not need to go to this trouble-you could just spend some time in the Petrol Station observing and talking to customers to find the issues. Usually I find that operators can direct you to the identification of the key issues. You will need to confirm that they are the key issues with data. Once you have identified projects you can charter the projects and start following the DMAIC process on a project by project basis.


    Norbert Feher

    Is it possible to vary prices based on the demand within the day?

    Higher in case of peak hours and lower during calmer periods.

    or You may offer special services during calm period

    Of course instead of the solution You need some tools but I also agree that Lean Six Sigma is useful there too (the above idea could be achieved by deploying only the 7 basic tools of quality)

    The simplier, the better :-)

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