When Salim Patel was just 21 years old, working as a petrol attendant near Halifax, West Yorkshire, he never imagined that 30 years later he and his wife, Mumtaz, would be running the forecourt of their dreams nearby in Brighouse.
Recently refitted with an impressive hot food-to-go kitchen, alongside a free cash machine, car jet wash and an electric charging station, sales have already soared by more than 100% since its reopening in February this year.
RN also recently visited Salim’s store, which you can read online now
Turning the 500sq ft kiosk into a 2,000sq ft fully-functioning facility with its own Costa Express lounge took five months to complete, but Salim says it was all worth it.
“It’s about providing the best customer service. Retail is such a competitive market, and with us having a Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Lidl nearby, we knew we had to go the extra mile,” he says.
One of Salim’s and Mumtaz’s proudest achievements has been the bespoke hot food-to go bar they installed, complete with five dedicated staff members running it on a day-to-day basis.
Salim says it was crucial they got their offering right, and to get an idea of what people wanted to eat, he made sure to engage in conversation with regular customers to find out what they wanted to see in store.
“I asked a few people what type of food they wanted us to serve, and a lot of people mentioned Indian because we don’t have anything like that nearby,” he explains.
Now, the store’s range serves an impressive menu, including fresh meat and vegetable samosas, shami kebab and shish kebab, to chicken and beef burgers and fries, all ranging from 75p to £3.99.
“A lot of people in the afternoon just come in for the hot food we serve. The samosas, wraps and burritos are the most popular. Most of the hot food is assembled in house. It’s our own logo and name on the food, so it has to be perfect,” Mumtaz says.
Furthermore, the store’s new Costa Express bar also brings in 80 to 100 customers per day, and Salim says most of them are new shoppers travelling past.
“We’re the first petrol station off the motorway – we have a prime location. So, often people come in before a business meeting or on their way to the next town for a coffee, and they might sit down for a while,” he says.
While adding all these new features was a good idea, Salim says training their 11 members of staff was also crucial to ensure everything ran as smoothly as possible.
“We hired an ex-food inspector to come and train our staff in food hygiene, and once a month he will randomly come in to test them. This has allowed us to gain a five-star food hygiene rating,” he says.
And if that isn’t impressive enough, the store has also ranked in as one of the top five Shell petrol stations in the country, awarded by Shell itself.
“The whole process has been amazing, and we’re both grateful and proud of the facility we have created,” Salim says.