7 Takeaways from the Energize 2020 Digital Conference

There’s a first time for everything, and last Wednesday, April 8 marked the delivered fuel industry’s first virtual conference, Energize 2020!

Developed by partners Cargas, Qualpay, Cetane Associates, Tank Utility, and P3 Propane Safety, Energize was a full day event featuring 7 educational sessions designed around today’s fuel marketer. The sessions, including two fuel marketer panels, were delivered by an incredible lineup of 13 industry experts involved in every different side of the propane industry.

If you missed out, you can view the on-demand recordings here!

Conference Stats From Energize

Planning this first virtual event made us curious about what the turnout would look like, which communities we would reach, and what kind of feedback we would receive on the sessions. Here is a summary of all the stats from the conference:

Registrants – We had an impressive turnout, attracting over 630 registrants. Registrants represented businesses from 48 out of the 50 U.S. states, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the countries of Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Aruba. 

Locations of the Energize 2020 registrants.

Attendees – Over 55% of folks that registered attended the event live with nearly 200 staying on for the full day!

Money Raised for NPGA – With contributions from sponsors and attendees, over $11,000 was donated to NPGA through the event and/or directly. All money raised went directly to NPGA. Thank you to Qualpay for managing these contributions.

Many Would Attend Again – We sent out a survey after the conference to attendees and many said they would recommend the conference to their co-workers and friends, with an average rating of 9 out of 10 for the conference.

7 Learnings from the Energize Sessions

If you missed out on any of the sessions, you can still access the on-demand recordings by signing up here. To give you a quick summary, below are 7 lessons we learned from attending each session.

The delivered fuel industry is in a much better spot than most

While it is too soon to tell exactly how business valuations will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is seeing some encouraging signs. Propane marketers saw a loss in commercial gallons due to temporary business closures, however increased residential gallons are making up for that loss. In fact, in the current environment of a National Emergency, propane consumption remains identical to usage at this time last year. Overall, this is still a desirable industry for acquisitions.

Communication is key during uncertain times

While the health implications of the COVID-19 crisis are unprecedented, this is not the first time fuel marketers have overcome business disruption. Every heating season, fuel marketers deal with challenges like snowstorms that reduce truck capacity, and power outages that bring down entire technology systems. In uncertain times like these, customers and employees seek transparency. Focus on communicating the impact this challenge has on your business, and be open about your plan to serve stakeholders in a way that keeps them safe.  

Invest time in technology before investing money

With any luck, a large technology purchase such as a back office software system or tank monitoring solution will last your company for years to come. Avoid wasting money on a bad purchase by doing your due diligence before you buy. Understand what your needs are and find a tool to match. Talk to current users of the system. Learn how the system will be set up and integrated with your other systems. Learn how the company will support your needs as they change in the future. Make sure your team is on board and that this solution really will make their lives easier.  

Businesses must adopt technology to operate in today’s environment

For the first time, government mandates and safety concerns are driving businesses to adopt technology as critical infrastructure. Fuel marketers are leaning on tools such as centralized back office systems, tank monitoring solutions, and customer apps to continue operating in this climate. They’re also seeing how these tools can help them use precise, real-time data to meet customers’ evolving expectations. While technology updates can be overwhelming, fuel marketers can plan for them by developing a technology roadmap that breaks down the process into manageable steps over the next 3-5 years.

Drive marketing leads with referrals and web search

Most fuel marketers don’t have an endless stream of marketing spend, so it’s crucial to invest in channels that bring results. According to Tank Utility’s Delivered Fuel Consumer Survey, referrals and web search are the #1 and #2 sources for new business, respectively. Consider allocating your resources towards developing referral programs and incentives that attract more customers through word-of-mouth. When it comes to improving search engine optimization, one of the easiest things you can do is create a Google Business listing and encourage happy customers to leave reviews.  

The key to tank monitoring? Prioritize your initial deployment

To achieve dramatic efficiency gains through tank monitoring, your first step should be identifying which customers to start with. Focus your deployment on accounts where you can save dollars and time through avoided deliveries. For you, that may be key commercial customers, keep-full residential customers, or another subset. After the initial roll-out, propane marketers often scale deployment to more customers because of the savings they realize and the positive feedback from drivers who appreciate knowing exactly what they’ll drop at each tank.

Update your payment technology to improve your bottom line

The delivered fuel industry qualified for utility pricing back in 2005, however many energy companies are still paying thousands extra every month in credit card compliance fees due to outdated payment tools. By updating to industry specific payment technology, you may be able to qualify for better rates with card brands. If you’re not sure whether you’re receiving the best rates, you can perform an interchange audit to see if you’re qualifying for Target interchange.    

Screenshot of conference participants at the Energize Virtual Happy Hour!