How To Buy Gas Station Businesses: Top Five Risks


Gas Station 5 Risks Buying

Those seeking to buy gas station business opportunities need to know about five factors that can make this purchase particularly risky compared to other businesses.  Along with food, clothing and shelter, Americans consider the fuel needed to run their vehicles a necessity. The chance to be on the selling end of that commodity is what drives a number of entrepreneurs to buy gas station business opportunities.

But there are at least five substantial risks awaiting the buyer interested in this industry. And it is critical to know about them.


1. What's underground? Among the costliest mistakes in a buy gas station plan is to examine only visible assets. While above ground equipment might be functioning just fine, an underground disaster is occurring if gasoline is leaking from storage tanks. The state of California is diligent about enforcing environmental rules for gas stations. For the new owner, especially one not protected by a franchisor, that means enormous clean up costs, not to mention the loss of business while the tractors dig up contaminated soil and the station has to be rebuilt. Requiring both Phase I and Phase II soil testing as a condition of purchase, is a must for the prospective buyer.

2. About those tanks. One of the first questions about California gas stations for sale is whether it has DWFG (double-walled, fiberglass) fuel storage tanks with leak detection sensors. If fuel storage for a possible purchase candidate has not been upgraded, it's best to focus the buy gas station business effort on other offerings.

3. Who's the real property owner? The land may not be owned by the seller, even if seller is a name brand franchisor dispensing its product at the station. Imagine buying a Chevron or a Shell Oil franchise and learning that the company holds only a lease--being sublet to you--which soon will expire. Anyone wanting to buy gas station business opportunities must insist on knowing who owns the property, whether mortgage payments, if any, are being made on time, and the duration and terms of any lease held by the seller.

4. Future traffic patterns. Many investors who have searched to buy gas station businesses have learned, too late, that a road construction crew would soon tear up the route motorists use to access the gas station business. This fact often is known by the seller. It might even be the undisclosed reason for the sale. So a trip to city hall and a conversation with planning and roads department people is an essential part of the pre-offer due diligence process.

5. Paying a fair price. Some California gas station brokers and sellers like to tie the business asking price to the gallonage pumped or to gross revenues. But the smart entrepreneur pursuing a buy gas station business objective looks at actual earnings before the seller pays, or sets aside money for interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. In many cases, markup on the fuel sold may not be enough to cover overhead. The profit might come from a related business, such as mechanical repair, convenience market or car wash.

Knowing that most California gas stations sell at a price equating to the range of two to three times the annual EBITDA figure, not including real estate or inventory, a buyer can be prepared when talking price with the seller or broker. And whether the price at which to buy gas station business assets belongs at the bottom, the top, or in the middle of the range, depends on factors such as terms of the lease, seller's willingness to help finance, and condition of the equipment and improvements.

An entrepreneur on a buy gas station purchase mission is investigating an industry with solid opportunities. But he or she needs to be mindful about the five risks.

Peter Siegel, MBAAbout The Author: Peter Siegel, MBA is the BizBen Founder / President. BizBen has hundreds of gas stations for sale and wanted to buy requests and lists numerous gas stations brokers/agents who assist buyers & sellers of California gas stations. You can reach Peter Siegel, MBA (Gas Station/Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProBuy & ProSell Program Advisor with BizBen working with buyers, sellers, brokers, and agents) at 925-785-3118.

Categories: BizBen Blog Contributor, Buying A Business







  Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses
Lee Petsas, Business Broker: Southern California Area

Lee Petsas has been selling businesses with UBI Business Brokers in Southern CA since 1981. In 1999 he became the Owner and Broker for UBI. He has been approved multiple times by Courts as an Expert Witness in the area of Business Valuations.

Randall Barondess CBB, Business Brokerage Services - Central Coast

Experts at: Preparing Businesses For Sale, No-Cost Valuations and Lease Modifications. MaxOne Business, a REMAX ONE Company prepares small, mid-sized and large businesses for sale by confidentially packaging the business and providing guidance throughout the sales process.

Prabhjot Randhawa, Broker: SF Bay Area, Central Valley

I'm a Business Advisor at Liberty Business Advisors of San Francisco. I have over 20 years of experience in all phases of entrepreneurship. During the past 15 years my concentration has been in business of mergers and consulting. I have owned and operated over 10 businesses. 209-815-3842 Cell.

Matt Weiler, Business Broker: Gas Station Specialist

Business Broker Specializing in primarily gas stations. Geographic area of focus: San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento and as far South as Monterey, California. To sell or buy a small or large gas station phone Matt (gas station business broker specialist) direct at 408-623-0920.

Elizabeth McGovern: Escrow Services - San Francisco Bay Area

McGovern Escrow Services, Inc., is a leading independent escrow company. We are a trusted partner with our clients, assisting them through the tangled bulk sale & liquor license transfer process. We provide attentive, quality & innovative customer service. Phone Elizabeth McGovern at 415-735-3645.

Manjit Singh, Business Broker - SF Bay Area, Central Valley

Assistance in the SF Bay Area & Valley. Contact me about buying or selling a restaurant, liquor store, gas stations, markets, and c-store businesses. If you are looking to buy or sell a SF Bay Area, Central Valley liquor store, market, c-store, restaurant, etc phone me direct at 510-417-9429 Cell.

Bob Hughes, Business Broker: Coachella Valley Area

Business broker & President of Hughes Properties. I have a wide variety of entrepreneurial experience with personal ownership & sales of numerous businesses, and have sold over 200 small & mid-sized businesses in the Riverside County marketplace. Phone me at 760-275-6914 Cell.

Harry Sidhu, CBB, Broker: SF Bay Area, Central Valley, SAC Region

Assisting both sellers and buyers of businesses - dealing mainly with Liquor Stores, Grocery Markets, Gas Stations, Smoke Shops, Restaurant Related, Retail Related, Service Related. Serving SF Bay Area, North Bay, Sacramento area. Call Harry Sidhu, CBB for assistance at 510-366-6130.


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