Next year, up to 300 of the group’s stations will offer their customers the option of being served by an employee responsible for distributing fuel.
It is the return to favor of a profession which had disappeared from the landscape in France. For several weeks, pump attendants have returned to the forefront, while TotalEnergies recently announced its ambition to recruit several hundred by 2024. A way, for the energy company, to strengthen its “proximity» with its customers.
If it was still common to meet these professionals in small rural stations, often backed by garages, it was very rare to come across them in Paris and the inner suburbs. TotalEnergies therefore wanted, from 2020, to organize their return to the city, we explain internally. The initiative was then “stopped dead with the Covid“, in a context “difficult recruitment“. It will finally be relaunched with great fanfare this fall, with “a hundred stations» concerned out of the 3,400 that the group has in France. By 2024, the ambition is to double their number, to “reach 300 stations» equipped with this service.
“We have very good feedback”
“We have very good feedback», We ure you in the corridors of the French oil company, particularly enthusiastic at the idea of putting this outdated profession in the spotlight. The group also sees it as a way to stand out from its main competitors. And to explain: “Firstly, there is a notion of security, very appreciated by customers, coupled with a notion of service“. For customers, who “appreciate having human contact“, it’s also the urance of finding someone welcoming, who will refuel for you free of charge, give advice, “istance with the use of station equipment» or check the windshield washer level.
If it is TotalEnergies which chooses which stations will be concerned, the manager of the gas station is free to refuse. The French giant wishes to favor “stations in urban areas” often “more dehumanized than stations in rural areas backed by garages“. Professionals “find their account there“, we say: in the TotalEnergies station in Drancy (Seine-Saint-Denis), customers are ready to make a detour to take advantage of this service, according to the company, to the point of seeing its business increase. The pump attendant must in fact inform customers about “products available in store and current promotions”, a way to advertise to customers.
Faced with criticism from some, who question in particular the working conditions of these pump attendants, the group responds without batting an eyelid that all will be “TotalEnergies employees on permanent contracts, paid a little more than the minimum wage“. And to congratulate himself: “We have varied profiles, with young people but also seniors who come to supplement their income“.
“So much the better we go back”
Others are delighted with the return of this profession, like Francis Pousse. The national president of the fuel distributor and new energies branch of the Mobilians union takes a very positive view of this announcement, these professionals making it possible to “enhance appeal» customers for gas stations as well as “the social bond that we sorely lack today“. However, the one whose organization represents no less than 5,800 traditional stations recalls that this service has always remained available “in our stations“. “We have always served the 85 year old lady who has difficulty moving“, he explains.
This is not the first time that the ambition to perpetuate this service has been announced, according to Francis Pousse, who mentions “different attempts over time“. These were not necessarily successful. “So much the better if we go back“, he says, well aware that in addition to the service aspect, “there is a real business behind it”, with pump attendants who “may be required to make commercial proposals“. “But it’s a first step towards better, I can’t say the opposite», he concludes.