Under the them of Embracing Change, over 220 Shell dealers and site operators met in Perth last week for the PMTDR 2023 Conference where delegates got to business learning from experts and each other with a focus on identifying and delivering tomorrows best practice and recognising todays excellence.

After rousing welcome to country from Uncle Barry and a casual welcome function the previous evening the Shell PMTDR (People Make The Difference Real) Dealers caught up with suppliers in the trade hall before getting to the serious business of learning and growing together.

Jevan Bouzo, CEO of Convenience and Mobility for Viva Energy Australia, opened the conference session with a detailed exploration of the “retail” side of the business now and into the future. Introducing the conference theme: Embracing Change, Jevan dove into what the future looks like for the Shell Branded retail network.  Jevan explained why the business has a stopped referring to the segment as retail and instead is now using convenience and mobility. The change is a commitment and an aspiration that is being made real.

Stephen Crystal ,Nation Retail Operations Manager for Viva Energy Australia, provided delegates with a Dealer Update that focused on acknowledging the resilience of dealers (flood, fire and more floods) and the efforts of the whole network to support each other and grow not just in number but in community reach and support…and its working, customer experience numbers are impressive and improving. While providing the update Stephen took the opportunity to showcase the commitment to community, and particularly the  Heart of the Nation Australia program, that Viva Energy Australia is supporting and encouraging all PMTDR Dealers to engage with.

Tanya Simpson, Media and Sponsorships Manager covered the changing media landscape and explained why video has not killed the radio star (not yet), and the importance of a consistent and continual brand messaging to customers and the value that this delivers to Dealers. More importantly Tanya took delegates through what they can do at a site level to promote their own stores effectively.

The learning continued where, after a jam packed morning tea networking with suppliers, ACAPMAs Elisha Radwanowski explored the need for businesses to embrace and understand the rapid change in the IR landscape, specifically the impact of Multi Employer Bargaining and a detailed review of the Modern Slavery concerns impacting the industry before leading an energetic Q&A Session that ranged over the many idiosyncrasies of employment compliance in the fuel industry.  Followed by Steve Cardinale of New Sunrise who celebrated the vital role that independent operators play in the industry and challenged delegates to think differently while drawing inspiration from others.
After a working lunch delegates were invited to look to the future with Robert C., Carbon Solutions Lead for Viva Energy Australia, took delegates through a high level review of the pathway towards decarbonisation and what that means for the future mobility mix.

Ricka Slattery, Head of Treasury for Viva Energy Australia, was joined by Filip Montalto, Large Enterprise Accounts Lead For ANZ Worldline Payment Solutions to take delegates through the significant work that is being done at the head office level to produce a competitive and flexible merchant service to all dealers, before Theo Foukkare CEO AACS, provided delegates with an update of activity in the illicit tobacco, vaping and alcohol areas before reviewing some global convenience trends.

Delegates then explored their role in the Chain Of Responsibility (COR) with James Zarb, Logistics Safety Lead for Viva Energy Australia before Steve Brown from UCB Stores (United Convenience Buyers) provided some further convenience insights and yielded the rest of his time to Christina Matthews, CEO WA Cricket, who delighted delegates with an energetic presentation on the power of leadership and the necessity to embrace change.

It can not be all work, so the Delegates took time while in Perth to explore some icons, including The Island for a casual dinner and more networking.

The final day of the PMTDR Conference 2023 kicked off with a focus on food and the future when Bowser Bean Cafe CEO Haydn Tierney shared his journey and learnings when making food and coffee the hero to drive all fuel and non fuel sales. Having learnt the hard lessons the hard ways (green chairs) Haydn was open about the parts of the food journey that many don’t consider until they are in it, such as; employee workflow from a safety perspective, training that can be about more than skills, it can be about connecting and activating internal staff communications and finally the almost always slightly differing council requirements.

Rhys Moore, Commercial Lead Hydrogen and EV for Viva Energy Australia, then turned the focus to the future with an insight into what the role of Hydrogen and EVs will play in the future fuel mix, particularly for the heavy vehicle market.

After another working break catching up with suppliers the learning switched to sharing, when Paul Goonan, Retail Operations Manager Victoria for Viva Energy Australia, moderated a retailer panel session where Nicolas Karalis of 24 Seven Group, Sarah Pourbozorgi of Shell North Rocks and Haydn Tierney of Bowser Bean Vantage Group answered a battery of probing questions from Paul before the delegates from the floor got involved and turned it into a real open discussion about the many different pressures retailers are facing, as well as the many different ways to cater offer for the differing markets and communities.

The big messages from the Panel…
– Take inspiration from the best operators from all industries, not just your own
– Don’t be afraid to try new things based on your knowledge of what your community wants
– Ask the experts and be ready to be told you are wrong…it can be hard to hear but it will make you better
– Work with partners to grow your knowledge and learn from their experiments

The bringing together of the dealers also offers an opportunity to recognise service and excellence.  During the conference sessions Stephen Crystal then took up this opportunity to explore in detail the measures that some sites have put in to deliver excellence in HSSE and Customer Engagement when presenting the awards;

Excellence in HSSE Award
– Nader Petroleum Shell Chipping Norton for the innovative flood
– Dunnings Petroleum for their efforts Heart of The Nation

Excellence in Customer Engagement Award
– Shell Bermagui for going above and beyond when building customer relationships
– Shell North Rocks for outstanding customer service and a custom loyalty program that is bringing in customers

Excellence in Business Improvement Award
– Shell Beerwah for becoming an Amazon hub and innovative services delivery for the community
– Shell Ocean Grove for bringing the love to convenience with home cooked meals for consumption at home

More awards followed at the glittering Gala dinner at the amazing Sandalford Winery.

The Service to Shell Award for 20 years service went to Shell Dunmarra Wayside Inn

The PMTDR Excellence Awards went to;

  • Bronze
    – NSW/ACT – Shell Jindera
    – VIC/TAS – Shell Clayton
    – WA/NT/SA/QLD – Shell Hervey Bay
  • Silver
    – NSW/ACT – Shell Tamerang
    – VIC/TAS – Bruce Clough Motors
    – WA/NT/SA/QLD – Shell Urraween
  • Gold
    – NSW/ACT – Region Service Station
    – VIC/TAS – Shell Holts Swan Hill
    – WA/NT/SA/QLD – Shell Beerwah
  • Platinum
    – NSW/ACT – Nightowl Shell Berkeley Vale
    – VIC/TAS – Shell Kingston Garage
    – WA/NT/SA/QLD – Shell NightOwl Bellevue

The coveted Australian Smiling Stars Awards for 2022 were also presented at the Gala Dinner.  The Smiling Stars are awarded to the businesses and customer service representatives who have displayed outstanding customer service, commitment to excellence and safety. The Australian winners earn a trip to the International Smiling Stars event to join with the country Smiling Stars from around the world.  The next Smiling Stars event is in Budapest later this year.

The 2022 Australian Smiling Stars are;
– Service Champion of the Year – Tracey Fazulla from Shell Cobar Auto Port
– Gold Retailer of the Year – Kingston Garage
– Gold Retailer of the Year – Region Service Station
– Gold Retailer of the Year Shell – Holts Swan Hill
– Multi Site Operator of the Year – NPG Retail
– Country Retailer of the Year – NightOwl Convenience
– Retail Operations Manager of the Year – Lana Curry

With a big thank you to the VIVA Team and all the work done the delegates got to relaxing and enjoying each other’s company until next year.


Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)