How can you grow in a crowded market?

Sometimes it can be difficult to see future growth opportunities when your own business – and your competitors – have the market crowded.

It was a question My Business was keen to put to Peregrine Corporation. The company, which claims to be the largest private employer in South Australia, operates several retail businesses, the most prominent of which is service station and convenience store chain On the Run.

“We have close to a million customer transactions a week, more than half of South Australia is within a kilometre of an On the Run and we're a unique company-operated business,” explains Michaela Webster, the company’s chief operations officer.

“Peregrine has about 3,300 employees, and On the Run has 2,400.”People crowded against a set of glass doors

With the majority of the state’s population already so close to one of its stores, as well as competition from larger players like BP and Shell, where does On the Run see its growth opportunities?

“The opportunity for us is to keep extending our relevance and being more relevant to those customers so they can use us more frequently,” Michaela explains.

“So it's about increasing the frequency of visit, and satisfying them more so they come to us more often [and] spend more money and enjoy.”

Part of that, says Michaela, involves playing up On the Run's role as a locally owned and operated business.

“My particular focus now is on making sure we are very relevant to customers, and [promoting] our local appeal and our local products and the local suppliers,” she says.

“If we are seen as a service station, that would be incorrect. We don't see ourselves as a service station, we see ourselves as continually evolving to meet customers' various needs.”

According to Michaela, the group is doing this by embracing technology, enabling the gathering of more detailed customer data than ever before to understand consumer needs and shopping habits.

“We are launching an app … to get closer to our customers one-on-one, and regarding the technological changes the world is going through, including how cars are used in society, we're preparing for those.”

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