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The hallmark of a convenience store is quick transactions. Customers want to get in and get out. Inventory turns are quick, but many items are also perishable. Adding gasoline and diesel sales to the mix makes both the transaction size and the documentation complexity increase. Gasoline sales are regulated and price changes are a continuing challenge; prices must be set at the pumps, on signs, and in POS software; calculating inventory costs is also problematic as different-priced deliveries are mixed in the same tanks.
Accounts payable, payroll and general ledger are the same for convenience stores and gas stations. Accounts receivable is generally limited to handling credit card charges. Cash handling is a particular problem for both. Inventory is a challenge for both because of the amount of inventory for convenience stores and pricing for fuel for gas stations. Customer relationship management plays a very limited role.
In addition to the core accounting functions, gas station and convenience store operators should evaluate the following functions to meet their unique requirements:
|Pool margin calculation||Gas stations need to calculate the pool margin and track costs and profitability of fuel sales. This process needs current tank levels, current pool margin, current inventory price, and new delivery amount and price. It is updated with every delivery for each type of fuel sold.|
|Spoilage reporting||Convenience stores sell perishable goods; the “sell by” dates must be tracked, expired inventory must be collected and disposed of, and the process properly documented.|
|Gasoline price calculation||Gas prices fluctuate frequently; the system must make certain the prices are correctly calculated and are within legal specifications.|
|UPC code catalog||Convenience stores carry small amounts of many items. Building an inventory from scratch could take weeks; a convenience store inventory software system must include a UPC code catalog with descriptions for common items to save time in building the inventory.|
|Bottle deposit tracking||Eleven states have beverage bottle restrictions; Twenty-two have plans under consideration. The system needs to track deposits and bottle sales, and produce compliance reports.|
|Safe drops||The POS system must track safe drops. It must record drop amounts and compliance with drop policies by store employees. It should also track cash-in-drawer amounts and notify employees when cash drops are necessary.|
|House account tracking||Many gas station chains, large and small, provide services to corporate fleets. These are usually handled by house accounts, which need to be tracked separately and reported to the central office.|
|Employee auditing||Inventory shrinkage is a problem for convenience stores. An accurate and up-to-date employee audit, done frequently, is one tool to help curb the problem.|
|Compliance reporting||Gas stations are subject compliance reporting. The same requirement applies to a lesser degree to convenience stores. The software should prepare all compliance reports.|
|Security system integration||Both convenience stores and gas stations benefit from integration between the POS system and security systems, linking security recordings with transaction records.|