We have found ourselves in unchartered territory and everyone involved in the forecourt sector has been reflecting on what the public health crisis has meant for ourselves, our families and our businesses.
Our highest priority during the crisis is the health and safety of our colleagues, customers, suppliers and the communities where our members operate. It is a tribute to all forecourt operators who have remained open and maintained an essential service that the sector has delivered such a professional service.
In the early stages of the crisis we recorded a significant increase in Drive-Off incidents and while travel has decreased we still encourage fuel retailers to remain vigilant.
I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on how forecourt crime in the fuel retail sector has changed and evolved, so that when this crisis comes to an end we can all move forward with renewed vigour.
During the decade that BOSS Payment Watch has been operating, we have seen the number of forecourt crime incidents steadily rise. While there are peaks and troughs, there is no doubt that the trend is upwards. When we introduced the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index in 2015 it stood at 100 and by Q4 2019 it had reached 158.
Fuel crime presents a mixed picture. We now know that two thirds of Drive-Off incidents are the result of a failure to pay in store, and when combined with No Means of Payment incidents (NMoP), then forecourt retailers may want to consider strengthening their procedures to ensure that cashiers have the necessary support and skills to deal with customers.
Our research team has analysed NMoP reports for 2019 and found that sites operating BOSS Payment Watch see two thirds of motorists claiming to have no means to pay for fuel return to a site within seven days and pay for the fuel taken. As a result only one third of incidents are being passed to BOSS for our debt collection team to pursue on behalf of our members.
Each year Drive Off and NMoP incidents cost a site an average of £3,800. On average we are able to recover 81% of the these debts through the BOSS Payment Watch scheme and last year alone we helped to recover nearly £10 million on behalf of our members.
We have come a long way in a decade and demonstrated that collective effort can bring significant benefits. Where retailers adopt effective and robust procedures, financial losses from forecourt crime can be minimised.
Keep safe and healthy through these difficult times – remember we are here to help.
BOSS Executive Director
This article also appeared in Forecourt Trader