Here’s how to get started on a path to success.
Lets’ face it, there are many variables in a propane or fuel distributor business that you have little or no control over, but can impact your bottom line – weather, crop moisture, product cost, and many times their sales price, just to name a few. Now, when you start looking at new vehicle replacement cost, retaining and recruiting qualified drivers and service technicians, it can make consistently delivering on your annual financial objectives challenging. It would sure make things easier if simply raising your margins by raising your prices to cover these uncontrollable variables in your business were always a viable option, yet we know the market can be very competitive and just not allow for it.
Priority Accounts – a No-Brainer
So, you’ve made the decision to leverage tank monitoring technology on your tanks to improve your delivery efficiency by eliminating wasted trips to your customer tanks and eliminating the general liability and operating expense associated with out of gas service failures. Installing a tank monitor on your priority accounts is an obvious good move. It makes sense to always have a watchful eye on the accounts that are most important to your business and those whose usage is just too erratic to accurately forecast any other way. Avoiding service failures on your best accounts is a no-brainer.
To really capitalize on your tank monitoring investment, you must evaluate your delivery history. This is where data analytics comes into play. WESROC has developed a sophisticated tool to analyze your customer delivery history, typically at least two years’ worth, to identify the accounts / tanks that are ideal candidates for tank monitoring.
Our Deployment Strategy tools are designed not only to provide a broad view road map and budgetary tool to help the marketer decide on the best strategy for investing in tank monitoring, but also a site by site guide for determining which locations need monitors the most, will have the fastest payback, and highest return of investment (ROI). The WESROC Deployment Strategy tool has been developed and enhanced over many years of experience with input from hundreds of fuel suppliers and has been used to evaluate well over a million tanks.
The WESROC Deployment Strategy tool is customized to each analysis to accommodate several variables to create a strategy that is the right solution for each individual company or branch. The flexibility of being able to provide your own inputs for estimated cost of delivery, fill-to percentage, and optimum dispatch gallons, allows you to be in control of the resulting data that is specific to how you run your business.
Typically, the data needed for the analysis is exported from ADD’s software and is usually provided in an Excel or CSV file. The data WESROC uses includes a customer identifier for the marketer, which is usually the customer number, tank identifier, delivery date, volume history, fuel type, tank size, and keep full or will call identifier. Any customer name or address information for the Priority Deployment Analysis is not required.
Deployment Analysis Report
When the analysis is complete, WESROC provides a Summary Deployment Analysis report and a detailed report. The Summary Report details exactly the number of tanks that tank monitors that can be deployed on to provide the time to payback and ROI that meets the marketer’s specific financial objectives for the investment. The detail report readily identifies and ranks the locations that are being over serviced as well as those that are experiencing out of gas or near out of gas service failures.
An additional factor in determining the number of your priority tanks to deploy tank monitors on is the total number of stops saved. See the ‘Annual Stops’ row in the graph below. Most companies / branches have at least one spare or seasonally used bulk truck. These are usually the oldest vehicles in the fleet, the highest cost per mile to operate, and the first one that will need to be replaced. If you can eliminate enough excess stops with tank monitors, it may be possible to redeploy or eliminate, rather than replace that truck.
Large-Scale Deployment Strategy
The WESROC Large-Scale Deployment Strategy tool helps marketers that want to monitor all their tanks to potentially utilize a low-cost device that communicates on the LoRa (Long Range) LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) network. Marketers with high customer density or high concentrations of customer locations throughout their service area are great candidates to leverage this option. The data required is similar to the analysis detailed above for Priority Deployments, with the addition of physical locations in the data set. For the financial analysis, rather than looking at specific tranches of locations to achieve a specific payback and ROI objectives, our analysis produces a payback or break even time frame and ROI for the life of the investment. WESROC provides a propagations study by plotting the physical location of the tanks and overlays an existing commercial tower network where LoRa LPWAN gateways can be installed to cover 75% – 90% of the marketer tanks, the balance would utilize one of our cellular LTE network or satellite tank monitors. Typically, we look for 750 – 1,000 locations per tower to deploy the network.
The Large-Scale Deployment not only enables the marketer to realize maximum improvement in delivery efficiency, service quality, customer retention, safety performance, per delivery and per customer profitability, but also customer engagement. Providing end users with their tank inventory levels via mobile app can be beneficial for both keep full and will call customers. With push notification detailing the days to 30%, days to 15%, and days to empty, your will call management is also significantly improved. There are many other ways from a marketing and customer retention standpoint marketers can benefit from leveraging customer engagement with push notification messaging, not to mention sales differentiation.
Leverage the Technology
IoT (Internet of things) and IIot (Industrial Internet of Things) is delivering meaningful business, customer and financial data when, where and how customers want it to improve their bottom line. According to renowned analyst firm Gartner, IoT devices will outnumber the world’s population this year for the first time. It makes sense for marketers to leverage technology to growth their business’ bottom line, working more efficiently, measuring per delivery profit not monthly profit, and, with customer engagement, it’s a game changer for our industry.
If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Boyd McGathey at firstname.lastname@example.org.