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LPG retail: Not just for the big boys

LPG is a promising franchise option.
By Entrepreneur Staff |

Spotting the potential in retailing liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is what Nelson Par, head of PR Gaz Franchising Corp., is known for. Par, together with wife Siu Ping, has been supplying equipment to major LPG refilling plants as early as 2001. Seeing how the big fuel retailers were distributing LPG products at their service stations, Par realized that LPG retail could be carried out in a far more efficient manner.  

Nelson Par

Not long after, the couple decided to invest in LPG products retailed through a convenience store setup, giving birth to the business model of PR Gaz Haus. Consequently, the Pars’ own LPG signature brand adopted the name PR Gaz. In 2004, they streamlined the operations of the business and started offering the PR Gaz franchise program to entrepreneurs.   

“Other companies have tried but failed to pattern their business models after ours, which has been tried and tested. I am confident to say that we are the only LPG distributor and franchisor that will last long in the energy industry as we offer our clients and partners the whole package,” says Par.

A turnkey franchise renewable every five years, a PR Gaz Hauz outlet costs around P1.2 million. Franchisees will be assisted in the store construction and signage, initial inventory and staff training. A custom-made store management manual, retail software and tricycles for delivery will also be provided.

To date, the company has served more than 170,000 households in Cavite, Laguna, Pangasinan, Tarlac, La Union, Bulacan, Zambales and Pampanga, and has established 100 stores in the same areas.

Par reveals that the company aims to open 300 outlets by 2013 and 500 stores by 2015. Such plans for expansion mean greater saturation of the existing regions covered, while penetrating adjacent and outlying areas. Dominating the greater parts of Metro Manila, meanwhile, remains a challenge for the company.

Par admits, “Metro Manila has a more sophisticated market. It’s not impossible for us to extend our services there, but I’m telling you that it will be difficult. Besides, we have chosen to embark and focus our operations in provincial places for now because expenses in these areas are relatively lower and the risks are fewer.”  

The goal to open this many outlets in the next three to five years may seem daunting, but Par believes that the “necessity” and “constant demand” for energy products will make it all possible to achieve. This is where the importance of branding comes in, he says. Par asserts that product knowledge is just as important as brand recall, and he expects his franchisees to be as devoted towards this vision.

To maintain the company’s standards, PR Gaz Franchising Corp. sponsors annual franchise conferences that serve as refresher courses, providing franchisees with team-building activities, leadership talks and entrepreneurial seminars.

The company has granted a total of 34 franchises, more than half of which are managed and owned by overseas Filipino workers. Other franchisees include housewives, retirees and fresh business graduates. Par shares that providing OFWs the opportunity to grow their hard-earned money stems from his personal mission to “give back to the true heroes of the country.”  

Another department that Par continues to develop is his company’s customer service. He says, “The service we give here in PR Gaz is very personal. We take the time and effort to communicate with our customers; we reach out to them, household to household. I am sure that we are the only surviving LPG firm to do that.”

Part of the company’s customer service procedures are free pre-sales stove cleaning and check-up services, 24-hour help hotline, and product and services updates coursed through telephone calls and text messaging. PR Gaz Franchising Corp. has also recently launched its customer loyalty program in the form of a Suki ni Gazman card.  

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in managing this company is to be ready to listen to your market no matter what. Providing is never an easy task, especially in the petroleum industry. It’s not enough that we have satisfied buyers because they must be educated consumers as well.”

True to its priorities, PR Gaz as a customer-focused business is well on its way to expanding its network, without having to sacrifice margins and market sales.

Retelco Drive corner E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., Bagong Ilog, Pasig City 1600
(02) 571.7771


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