Why are companies investing in tank monitors as a part of their overall growth and operational strategy? GREMLIN® Heating Oil & Propane Tank Monitors, sat down with two of their clients, Gary Sippin, CEO of Sippin Energy Products, and Chris Caywood, President of Caywood Propane, to find out.
While one company has been relying on tank monitoring technology for over 15 years and the other is a relatively new adopter, both companies were very strategic when deciding to incorporate tank monitoring into their business. Gary is driven by data, so the decision to incorporate tank monitors was guided by an undeniable story his data was telling him. Chris’ focus was on adding automation to his operations in order to deliver a better customer experience and become more efficient.
Each company that decides to adopt tank monitors does so for different reasons. However, a common underlying theme is that fuel marketers want to – and frankly need to – operate more efficiently. As a 15-year tank monitoring veteran, Gary shares some data-driven insights that will help all fuel marketers better understand the value of tank monitors in today’s competitive environment.
- Delivery averages don’t tell the entire story. Many fuel companies look at averages when dealing with their metrics, and that can be dangerously misleading. For example, your average drop is 187 gallons (in a 275-gallon tank), so that seems pretty good, right? When you chart all of your drops, it looks like an EKG graph with one end full of run-outs and the other with short deliveries. The fact that they ‘average out’ at 187 doesn’t necessarily mean that you are running a good system for profitability. Look into the details of your averages to spot outliers using your back-office system or, for an even deeper dive, utilize a business intelligence software solution.
- Most dealers underestimate the cost of short deliveries. 70% of fuel companies have a keen focus on eliminating run-outs (as they should) however they don’t give the same consideration to the ancillary costs associated with short deliveries. There is a miscalculation of what these short deliveries actually cost. Don’t ignore glaring inefficiencies “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Stopping while “you’re in the area” may seem to make sense, but all those 2-gallon, 10-gallon or even 20-gallon stops costs you hundreds – or worse thousands – of dollars in man hours.
Knowing you need (and ultimately purchasing) tank monitors is just the first piece of the puzzle. Having a well-thought out plan to deploy them is another. We asked both Chris and Gary to share some of their deployment tips that made for a successful tank monitor implementation.
Tank Monitoring Deployment Tips
- Set up a strategy that is a part of your overall business goals. Chris decided he was going to use tank monitors as a way to differentiate his business from the competition by offering a more reliable service at a value price. By starting with a sound plan, Chris determined that the increased effectiveness of tank monitors would enable him to provide value priced service even when other operational costs increased.
- Communication and transparency are imperative. “A tank monitor program will not be successful without a strong collaborative effort by both the vendor and the marketer” says Gary. Chris states “The most important thing that was helpful in my deployment was being completely transparent with our team. Discuss the benefits as well as the possible problems because bumps in the road come with big change. The benefits will far outweigh any possible problems, but the potential problems should not be ignored.”
- Assign a project leader for the entire deployment and continuing maintenance. We’ve seen this time and time again; Management will fully embrace the idea of monitors, make a purchase, but their service team doesn’t prioritize installations leaving a large inventory of tank monitors just sitting around. Gary says “It’s important to assign tank monitor management responsibilities to one key person at the fuel marketers’ location. That person should be accountable for the maintenance and management of the system.”
- Training, training and more training. Spend time training your entire team on how the tank monitor works in all aspects. The time and effort put into this phase of your project will not only make for an easier deployment, but will help your team understand, trust and embrace the technology.
- Expect some bumps in the road. Whether you’re rolling out a large-scale deployment or adding them onto your service calls, new technology comes with some challenges. As Chris says, “everybody is going to struggle with change, including me. I knew it was the right thing to do and I see more and more every day how right the decision was.” Gary adds, “no monitor system works 100% of the time, but I don’t think that’s a reason to hold off. Companies need to leverage technology like this in order to maintain profitability in the face of shrinking margins”.
GREMLIN Heating Oil & Propane Tank Monitors provide a complete tank monitoring solution that was designed to provide fuel dealers with a fully supported and reliable product – so you can have a more efficient delivery department while providing your customers with peace-of-mind. We know that planning the deployment of tank monitors can be a little intimidating, so we provide strategy and deployment assistance for all of our clients.
If you’re interested in learning more how tank monitors may be able to help your company, contact one of our optimization experts today at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting gremlinmonitors.com.