The limits of what the market can support in terms of on-demand services is constantly getting pushed further. Two-day and overnight deliver are now commonplace, private cars can be ordered via apps, and people don’t even need to walk into grocery stores anymore. A new addition to the on-demand, mobile market is gasoline.
What has been a staple on Main Street is starting to take its business directly to the customers. Several companies have begun to offer mobile fueling services. The way it works is fairly straightforward. A customer can order the service on his or her mobile device and pay for the gas through a linked debit or credit card, and then a service technician will come to the specified location to add fuel to the tank. Add-ons like oil changes, windshield washer fluid top-offs, and tire inflation are also offered by some companies.
This is a revolutionary concept in one sense, in that you might have never before imagined a world in which you could own a car and not have to go to the gas station. In another sense, it’s not too far from reality. Already, people are regularly ordering prepared meals, groceries, and toiletries online, and basically any product can be shipped directly to a door. There are even virtual physician appointments, online lawyer services, and counseling appointments that you can do over the phone or a video chat.
One of the questions is whether there’s profit to be made in the mobile gas fueling industry. Many companies, like Yoshi, require a monthly subscription fee in addition to the price of gas. Yoshi’s monthly fee is $20, which many consider worth it since it eliminates the need to drive to a station. Gas prices are comparable to those at traditional gas stations, and the added convenience is a huge plus.
Metropolitan areas like California’s Bay Area, Dallas/Fort-Worth, San Diego, and Seattle have been some of the places in which start-ups have found success. Some locations, like corporate work places and university parking lots, are ideal as mobile fueling sites. Whether a fueling company can fill up just anywhere, from the street corner to a personal driveway, may depend on the local laws.
Those laws are trying to catch up with the advancements and innovation in the market, and the mobile fueling start-ups are prepared to state their cases. In general, they maintain strict safety standards, employ highly trained professionals, and inspect their equipment regularly. As their business grows, they’ll need to stay on top of any issues that may arise related to licensing, and many of the start-ups are actively communicating with local officials in an effort to guide the development of legislation.
So far, it appears that this is an idea that will stick. How far the industry can go is yet to be seen. What is known is how convenient this service is, and that there are customers willing to pay for it.