Fuel Costs
Price of purchased fuel.
Profit Impact
High fuel costs can lower profit margins

Rising oil prices may decrease profits for station owners unless they adjust prices

Labor Costs
Salaries and benefits.
Profit Impact
Increases expenses but can boost sales through better service.

Hiring an extra night-shift worker can cut into profits but help with operations

Repair and upkeep of the station.
Profit Impact
Prevents costly breakdowns and business losses.

Regular cleaning of fuel tanks can prevent costly repairs and lost business.

Card Processing Fees
Payment to card companies.
Profit Impact
Can cut into profits as most customers pay by card.

A 2% fee on $10,000 of daily credit card sales costs $200.

Cost for land or property use.
Profit Impact
A fixed expense that can vary widely depending on location.

High rent in premium locations

Electricity, water, waste disposal.
Profit Impact
Regular overhead costs, more usage can increase expense.

High cost of electricity for lighting and equipment

Coverage for various business risks.
Profit Impact
A fixed cost providing financial protection against unforeseen events.

Damage from a natural disaster

Gas Prices

Understanding the ebb and flow of gas prices is integral to understanding gas station profitability. As prices move, so do the profit margins. Here's a closer look at the link between gas prices and profitability:

  • Global Market Fluctuations: The cost of crude oil on the international market greatly influences gas prices. When costs spike, gas stations may see squeezed profit margins unless they can adjust their prices swiftly.
  • Seasonal Variations: Gas prices fluctuate with seasons, often increasing in summer due to higher demand. This seasonality can either boost or dent profitability depending on how well a station manages its stock and pricing.
  • Regional Taxes and Regulations: Gas taxes and environmental regulations vary by location and can significantly affect gas prices. Stations in areas with higher taxes or stricter rules may find their profit margins thinner.
  • Supply Chain Disruptions: Events like natural disasters or geopolitical issues can disrupt the supply chain, leading to sudden jumps in gas prices. Needless to say, these price spikes can affect a gas station's profitability.
  • Competitive Pricing: In areas with multiple gas stations, competitive pricing can be a determining factor. A higher-priced station might lose customers to the competition, impacting its revenue and profits.
  • Hedging Strategies: Some larger gas station chains use hedging strategies to guard against volatile gas prices. These tactics can help maintain stable profits, but they require expertise and aren't typically feasible for smaller, independently owned stations.

Seasonality and Market Fluctuations

Knowing the game of numbers behind running a gas station means understanding how seasonality and market fluctuations affect how much money a gas station makes. Let's explore some of these factors in detail with the following table:

AspectSeason/MonthEffectImpact on Profit
Tourist TrafficSummer (June-August)Increased travel leads to higher fuel and convenience store salesIncreases revenue and potentially profits
Travel back and forthAll year, peaks during school year (September-May)Regular commute leads to steady fuel and convenience store salesProvides stable, consistent revenue
Fuel DemandWinter (December-February), Summer (June-August)More fuel used for heating in winter and travel in summerSpikes in fuel sales can boost profits if managed well
Holiday SalesMajor holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.)Increased travel and gift shopping boost convenience store salesIncreases profits, especially for stations with a strong convenience store offering
Market ChangesUnpredictableChanges in oil prices, taxes, and regulations can affect fuel pricesCan decrease profits if prices rise and can't be passed onto customers, or increase profits if prices fall

Environmental Concerns

As we strive to comprehend the profitability of gas stations, environmental issues are becoming more relevant. With a shift towards sustainable practices, running a gas station may present both obstacles and advantages. Here are some to consider.

  • Evolving Regulations: Governments in many states are tightening environmental laws. Compliance could mean expensive upgrades to gas station equipment or hefty fines, reducing profits. However, being ahead of the curve can enhance your reputation among eco-conscious consumers.
  • Alternative Fuels: With a growing emphasis on renewable energy, some vehicles use alternative fuels. While this might lead to lower fuel sales, it presents an opportunity to diversify your offerings and cater to an emerging market.
  • Spill Risks: Fuel spills can lead to costly clean-ups and damage a gas station's reputation. However, investing in quality gas station equipment and regular maintenance can help prevent such incidents and stabilize profits.
  • Electrification: The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) is reshaping the industry. EVs may seem like a threat, but offering charging stations can be profitable. It's about embracing the trend as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
  • Public Sentiment: In today's market, many consumers prefer to support businesses that highly value sustainability. Demonstrating environmental responsibility can attract these customers, increasing your station's sales and profits.

Regulations and Taxes

Assessing a gas station's profitability requires a thorough understanding of the impact of regulations and taxes. Despite being very complex, these factors are vital to maintaining a profitable gas station. Here are some important factors to consider:

Licenses and Permits
You need various licenses and permits to operate, like a business license and more.
Costs for acquiring and renewing these can affect profits.

Plan ahead and budget for these.

Fuel Taxes
Fuel taxes vary state by state and significantly impact gas prices.
High taxes can affect competitiveness.

Monitor changes in fuel taxes and adjust pricing accordingly.

Environmental Rules
Strict regulations on emissions, storage tanks, etc.
Fines for non-compliance can hurt profits.

Regular audits and maintenance can ensure compliance and avoid penalties.

Labor Laws
Federal and state laws on wages, overtime, and worker safety.
Labor costs can be a significant part of your operating expenses.

Ensure you comply with all labor laws to avoid legal issues and potential fines.

Local Zoning
Limits on where gas stations can operate.
May affect location and therefore earnings.

Understand zoning laws in your area.

Safety Regulations
Fire codes, hazardous materials handling.
Penalties for violations can be severe.

Regular safety audits and staff training.

Sales Taxes
Vary by state and product (fuel, convenience store items).
Impact on pricing and margins.

Monitor and adjust for changes.

Other Factors

We've examined many important factors in how much money a gas station makes. However, there are a few more pieces of the profitability puzzle:

  • Supplier Agreements: Contract terms with fuel suppliers can significantly influence profit margins. The better the terms, the more money gas stations make.
  • Marketing: Effective promotions can increase both fuel and non-fuel sales. Well-targeted marketing can boost how profitable owning a gas station is.
  • Customer Service: Friendly, helpful staff can turn one-time customers into regulars. Excellent service contributes to how much money gas stations make.
  • Maintenance: Regular upkeep of equipment, like pumps and storage tanks, avoids costly breakdowns and potential fines. So, is owning a gas station profitable? It can be if you keep your gear in good order.
  • Financing Costs: Interest rates on gas station loans or equipment leasing can impact the bottom line. Better financing terms can improve how profitable owning a gas station is.
  • Community Involvement: Engaging with the local community can boost customer loyalty. Strong ties can positively influence how profitable is owning a gas station.
  • Safety and Security: Investing in safety measures and a secure environment can help reduce incidents and potential losses. This indirectly affects how much money gas stations make.

How Profitable Is the Gas Station Industry? 

As an entrepreneur, understanding the profitability and growth trends of the broader gas station industry is vital. The figures below show its current and future state domestically and globally.

U.S. Market Size in 2022
Revenue generated by the U.S. gas station industry.

Indicates the total amount of money being made by all gas stations across the US.

U.S. Growth Rate in 2022
Increase in the market size of the U.S. gas station industry in 2022.

Shows the rate at which the industry's revenue grew year-over-year.

Average U.S. Growth (2017-2022)
4.2% per year
Average annual growth rate of the U.S. gas station industry.

Provides an overview of the industry's growth over a five-year span.

Global Market Growth (2023-2028)
3.4% CAGR
Predicted Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of the global gas station market.

Gives an idea of the expected growth in the broader, global context for the next 5 years.

Number of Stations
The number of gas station locations in the U.S.

This figure demonstrates the level of competition within the industry.

Average Profit per Gallon
The net profit gas stations make per gallon, after costs.

Highlights how thin profit margins are on gasoline sales.

Average Net Profit Margin
Less than 2%, potentially 1.4%
The average net profit margin of a gas station.

For comparison, the banking industry has a net profit margin of around 30%.

Inside Sales
Almost 60%
The percentage of customers who purchase gas and also go inside the store.

Indicates the importance of convenience store sales in gas station profitability.

Franchise vs. Independent Gas Stations: Profit Potential Comparison

Entering the gas station industry presents a decision: franchise or independent start? Each has pros and cons, influenced by your budget, business acumen, desire for autonomy, and risk tolerance. Let's compare these models in terms of profit potential.

Franchise Gas Stations

Partnering with a major oil company and running a franchise gas station mirrors a guided tour: structured and expert-led, yet offers little flexibility. Weigh the following pros and cons carefully:

  • Brand Recognition: With franchises, you're buying into an established brand. This brand power can help attract customers and influence how much money a gas station makes.
  • Training and Support: Franchises often offer robust training and support, helping new owners understand how profitable a gas station is.
  • Bulk Buying Power: Being part of a larger network means you might have access to fuel at lower costs. This advantage can significantly affect how much money gas stations make.
  • Marketing Assistance: Franchisors often handle marketing and advertising. This benefit can help boost sales, reduce costs, and positively impact the profitability of owning a gas station.
  • High Upfront Costs: Franchises usually require a substantial initial investment, which might affect the profit margin, particularly in the early stages.
  • Limited Autonomy: You might not enjoy being a franchisee if you want full control, limitless creativity, and independent business growth. You don't get to call all the shots.

Independent Gas Stations

Going independent means charting your own course. It can be a more challenging route, but it also offers unique rewards:

  • Total Control: You make the decisions and guide the business, which means you have more control over how profitable your gas station can be.
  • Lower Initial Investment: Starting an independent gas station may require less upfront capital, which can influence how much money a gas station makes.
  • Flexibility in Operations: The freedom to experiment with pricing, suppliers, and additional services can determine a gas station's profitability.
  • Higher Risk: Without the support of a large brand, independent owners often face higher risks, affecting how profitable is owning a gas station.
  • Greater Responsibility: Want to go the independent route? You won't have the backing of a big oil company to help you source gas station equipment or handle marketing. You must wear many hats and balance these responsibilities to be profitable. 


How Much Money Do Gas Station Owners Make?

​​When determining how much a gas station owner can make, earnings fluctuate based on region, competition, stations owned, pricing, and extra services. Here's an overview of average annual incomes across the United States:

RegionAverage Annual Income
Overall$40,000 - $100,000

Tips to Increase How Much Money a Gas Station Makes

Now that we've gone through the basics let's rehash some talking points and discuss some final tips for squeezing the most profit out of your gas station business. The holy grail of any successful entrepreneur is getting the most bang for your buck and return on investment, after all.  

  • Focus on the Convenience Store: Evolve from a refueling point to a mini-shopping hub. Offer everything from everyday essentials to local, seasonal items. Remember- margins from fuel sales alone are thin. Your convenience store can attract customers, diversify your income streams, and elevate profits.
  • Excellent Customer Service: First impressions are lasting ones. Training your staff to deliver top-notch customer service can create a friendly atmosphere, encouraging repeat business and establishing a solid customer base.
  • Regular Maintenance: Nothing deters customers more than out-of-service pumps or a dirty restroom. Regular maintenance of gas station equipment and a clean facility can ensure smooth operations and customer appeal.
  • Strategic Pricing: Maintaining a balance is key: Price wisely to cover costs and profit, but avoid scaring away customers. A thoughtful pricing strategy, factoring in local competition and market demand, can significantly influence profitability.
  • Loyalty Programs: Adding a loyalty program or offering regular discounts can encourage repeat visits. It will attract customers while cultivating their loyalty, a key to sustainable profits. Who doesn't love a good deal?
  • Invest in Marketing: Visibility is vital in the saturated gas station market. Invest in local marketing, including signage, digital marketing, and community involvement, to increase brand awareness and attract more customers.
  • Environmentally Friendly Practices: Today's narrative is about eco-consciousness. Embrace the transition from the 'polluting gas station' image by adopting sustainable practices or adding EV charging stations. Doing so will attract an entirely new customer base, fueling future growth.


Final Word

As we've discovered, answering the question "how much money does a gas station make" isn't straightforward. It hinges on factors like location, local competition, and the additional services you offer. Success will not come easy and you may find yourself questioning yourself “Is owning a gas station worth it?” It certainly can be if you’re willing to put in the work.  


Is owning a gas station profitable?

It can be profitable to own a gas station. However, profitability depends on factors like location, competition, and additional services, given thin margins on gas sales. Focus on enhancing your convenience store, delivering excellent customer service, regular maintenance, strategic pricing, implementing loyalty programs, effective marketing, and adopting green practices to draw in more customers.

How do gas stations make money?

Gas stations make money by selling fuel, but most make more money through in-store sales of convenience items and additional services. IBISWorld reveals that gas stations make an average net margin of just 1.4% on fuel alone.

Which makes more money: an independent gas station or a franchise?

Generally, franchises, with their brand support and recognition, tend to earn more than independent stations. However, depending on size, location, and additional services, independent stations can also be profitable due to their flexibility to diversify income streams.

About the Author

Bobby Samuels

Bobby Samuels

Writer and Business Communications Consultant

Bobby's introduction to stock options at a hi-tech firm left him perplexed and determined to expand his knowledge in finance. He pursued a Master's degree in Finance at Harvard University. His diverse client base that includes CEOs, CFAs, private equity executives, venture capitalists, global investment firms, real...

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