It depends on a LOT of things: The Brand; the Location; the Cash Flow; the Competition - both now and foreseeable Competition in the future; the Supplier; the Price; whether it includes a C-Store or Repair Bays, and if it has Repair Bays, are you a Mechanic?
Gas Prices are inching up, and as Prices rise, the dealers lose. The average Pool Margin here is about 10 to 12 cents per gallon. Most sales are through Credit Cards, and the Gas Companies charge you about 3% on all sales. When Gas is $2.00, if your Pool Margin was 10 Cents, you paid 6 cents of that in Credit Card charges, so your real Gross Profit on a gallon of Gas was 4 Cents. When Gas went to $4.00 per gallon, the margins were still in the 10-cent area, but 3% of $4.00 is 12 cents, which means that many Gas Station dealers lost 2 cents on the gallon! In general, you make money on the C-Store anyway; when Gas was $4.00, it was the lifeline. Are we heading in that direction again?
In terms of Locations and Competition, there are three (3) Competitors here, (WaWa, Sheets and Royal Farms,) which each have extremely large C-Stores that almost verge on being full-fledged Supermarkets. They constuct huge operations that may have 14 to 20 Gas Pumps associated with them. They make their big money on the C-Store and virtually give the Gas away, in order to lure people into the Store.
What this means is that the typical Exxon Tiger Marts and similar operations can't compete with them. Their C-Stores are too small and they cannot offer Gas Prices that are low enough to compete. In one county where these huge operators are most popularly located, I have had BP, Shell and other, traditional Gas Station dealers call me and ask me to sell their stations. After analyzing the locations and the impact on their books after the super-stations came into the area, I told them they had nothing to sell! They went to a variety of other Brokers, complaining about what I said, only to be told the same thing by other Brokers. In almost every case, the small station owners ended up just throwing their keys in and walking away.
So, the question is, do you have competition in your area that is similar? And how are the zoning laws in your area, regarding the construction of new stations and the potential for a super-station to come into your market area? I have done business in Georgia and the regulations in the areas in which I have operated are fairly loose, so that is a key issue for you to examine.
Finally, I would never buy a station any more that did not have the Real Estate as part of the deal. Exxon in this area in particular has become notorious for jacking up the Rent on stations it owns, making it virtually impossible to earn a livable buck.
In 2004, I was one of the top Brokers in Maryland, in terms of Gas Station sales. Now, I do very, very few. I look at them all with incredible care.