In a previous post, we looked at an aspect of the propane customer experience around customer demands for more control. The other side of that is a customer that wants to be more hands-off. Consider a couple of propane customers like these that you may know:
- Suburban homeowners, husband and wife with 3 kids, a cat, a dog, and an iguana. They both work full-time and the kids are in 2nd, 4th, and 8th grade. They put in a propane backup generator a couple of years ago after a storm knocked out their power for a week.
- Retirees with a house alongside a golf course in Florida. They spend their winters there, splitting their time between the tennis courts and their backyard pool.
- A restaurateur with a seasonal seafood place along the Jersey shore. He’s open from May through October.
- Two brothers with a ski cabin in New Hampshire. They split it between their families but they also rent it out from time to time on Airbnb.
They’ve got two things in common (not including that they’re all great propane customers):
- They are all on will-call service; and
- Propane is about the farthest thing from their mind.
And unfortunately, #1 is in direct conflict with #2. Because if propane does become something that they need to worry about (breaking rule #2) they are going to start questioning everything from pricing to their supplier (who pushed them into #1).
Who are the Unwilling Will-Call Propane Customers?
These customers are all ones that you could call Unwilling Will-Call. Chances are their fuel supplier didn’t even offer the option to be an automatic delivery customer. Traditionally, there’s been no way to offer automatic delivery to customers like this because of how they use propane. There’s no way to use degree day forecasting with a generator or pool heater. Seasonal businesses may open sooner in the year or close later and the business level may vary widely (consider a particularly wet or cool summer for this restauranteur). Degree day forecasting does work for a heat customer in cabin but not one that is sporadically occupied like in a short term rental.
So all of these customers are pushed onto will-call service told to manage their own propane deliveries. They get told, “call us when you need gas and we’ll get to you in a couple of days”. But the two brothers with the ski cabin are busy enough managing the property and cleaning and besides how many of their rentals now how or even where to read the gauge on the tank. The restaurateur has a business to run, any supplier that makes it harder for him gets an extra dose of scrutiny. Our retirees are more worried about breaking 80 on the course and when their grandkids are coming to visit than propane for their pool heater. And finally, the homeowners with the generator would love to add a water heater and get their kitchen piped out for a new gas stove but “it’s a pain in the rear every time we have to call for propane. We don’t want to do that more often.”
Give Them What They Want: Smart Auto Delivery
Automatic delivery is the cure for the Unwilling Will-Call. These are all great propane customers that any fuel supplier would love to have at the core of their business (the suburban homeowners even want to add more burner tips!). We’ve already shown why traditional degree day forecasting won’t work for automatic delivery to these customers. That’s why you need to use Smart Auto Delivery. By that we mean, deliveries based on actual propane consumption reported based on tank level from a remote tank monitor. Make these customers happy, keep propane far from their minds, and you will have earned customers for life. They’ll be for satisfied with your service and your customer retention will skyrocket.