Many new customers view their first year of service with a new fuel supplier as a trial-run. They may be wondering, “Will my new supplier overcharge me?” “Are they responsive?” “Will they let me run out of gas?” It is crucial for your company to provide excellent service during this first year to keep the customer’s business for years to come.
However, new customers are particularly challenging to service precisely because your company doesn’t have a history with them. Without established usage patterns they can be difficult to forecast, and therefore more prone to run outs. And without a relationship to fall back on, any slip-up in service or perceived wrong is an easy excuse for a new customer to change suppliers.
What is the Cost of an Unhappy Customer?
This an important question to ask yourself because new customers typically have higher churn rates than existing customers. The amount of time and energy it takes to deal with an unhappy customer is a huge opportunity cost for your team. The negative reviews they leave online influence your brand perception. Lost referrals impact your earning potential. And ultimately, losing an unhappy customer costs actual dollars and cents for your business.
The risk of running out a new customer and potentially losing them to a competitor leads many fuel suppliers to make unnecessarily frequent deliveries. Oftentimes, they’ll send a truck out only to learn that the tank is still half full. Tank monitoring enables you to pinpoint exactly when your new customer needs a delivery in order to avoid this frustrating and costly situation.
Reason #1: Tank Monitoring Can Save Hundreds in Unnecessary Delivery Costs
Let’s learn from this fuel marketer’s real-life example. This supplier shared a year’s worth of delivery history data with us from June 2020 through June 2021. We’ll focus on one of their new customer accounts:
This new customer had a 250-gallon tank and used 937.6 gallons of propane last year. Because the supplier didn’t have an established usage pattern, they frequently sent a truck to top off the customer – a total of 12 times in just the first year.
From this information, we can see that the fuel supplier’s average fill rate was just 31%. In other words, the customer’s tank was still at about 49% each time the supplier filled it.
If the supplier had been delivering at a more optimal fill rate of 60% by waiting longer, they would’ve only had to make 6 deliveries over the course of the year.
By using a tank monitor on this new customer from the beginning, the supplier could have avoided a total of 6 deliveries. At approximately $60 per delivery, this would have saved the supplier $345 last year – that’s one profitable tank monitor and customer!
Are the Savings Worth the Expense of the Monitor?
In this scenario, the savings that come from avoiding 6 deliveries clearly justify the expense of monitoring. But what if you’re only going to save a few deliveries per year?
The annual cost to rent a tank monitor is comparable to the $60 average delivery cost. This means that for tank monitoring to be profitable, you just need to avoid 2 deliveries per year. If you’re able to avoid unnecessarily rolling the truck just twice per year, tank monitoring not only pays for itself, but it increases your bottom line as well. For harder to reach or larger customers, the savings can be much higher due to higher delivery costs.
Pro Tip: Reuse the Same Monitor on New Customers Every Year
To optimize profitability even further, consider a strategy we’ve seen some fuel marketers use: After the first year of monitoring your new customer (or once you have collected a season’s worth of consumption data), remove the monitor from their tank and relocate it to a newer customer’s tank. This strategy enables you to use the same monitor on different customers’ tanks year after year, thereby establishing a detailed usage history for all your new accounts and providing excellent service right off the bat!
Reason #2: Tank Monitoring Provides a Great Customer Experience that Differentiates Your Business
Offering tank monitoring services is an easy way to show new customers that you are committed to providing them with a great experience. It is an opportunity to add a valuable service to your repertoire of offerings that will enhance customer satisfaction.
In fact, according to our recent survey of thousands of delivered fuel consumers, 61% of customers who were interested in tank monitoring services would be willing to pay at least $5 a month for the benefits, including:
- The ability to check their tank level anytime, from anywhere with a mobile app
- Increased transparency into their fuel consumption and deliveries
- Peace of mind that they won’t run out
Pro Tip: Offer New Customers a Free Trial of Tank Monitoring Services
These days, new customers are accustomed to getting a free trial before they subscribe to a service (e.g., Amazon Prime or Spotify). This “try before you buy” model is a great way to introduce your new customers to the benefits of tank monitoring.
Consider providing new customers with a free 6-month or 1-year trial of tank monitoring services. Let them know you’ll be monitoring their tank during this time to ensure they don’t run out of gas. Also make sure to let them know that they can get free access to the Tank Utility mobile app to check their tank level in real-time, anytime, without leaving their home or business. After the trial period ends, tell them you’ll be adding a tank monitoring fee to their account to keep the service. In our experience the majority of customers are happy to pay once they’ve seen the value during a trial.
Not only will this enable you to gain an understanding of their usage pattern, but it also presents your customers with the opportunity to get hooked on the app, all its benefits, and the top-notch service you provide as their supplier.
Empower Your Customers and your Team with Tank Utility
Tank Utility’s monitoring solution is the best way to get the most out of your deliveries, while empowering your customers to rest assured knowing that they are in the best hands possible. Get in touch with a member of our team to learn how we can help you achieve success with your new customers this heating season.