Years in the propane industry: 13
Please describe your role and responsibility, as well as your vision, in growing your company and connecting with propane customers of today: When I began my position as the marketing director [in 2014], my first major task was to take on the responsibility for overseeing the rebrand of our company. … Since I began working with the sales team this past summer, we have spent the last several months restructuring the team and our processes. We have looked closely at our product offerings, presentations in the home and have implemented some new tools to help present a stronger sale by making use of WrightSoft, a software system designed to size a home for heating and cooling loads, and GoldMine, our new CRM. … I am directly responsible for media buys; managing all corporate events; public relations opportunities; script writing and development of radio and TV commercials; social media engagement (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and SnapChat); employee and customer engagement; content creation and execution for marketing campaigns throughout the year; website design, functionality and content; establishing measurement infrastructure for both sales and marketing data; and forecasting annual sales and marketing objectives.
Propane industry opportunities and threats: One of the greatest opportunities for propane is autogas. Over the next several years, I believe it will pick up momentum and be a strong revenue source all on its own. Another opportunity I see is having younger workers driving our industry, whether out in the field or in a more corporate position. I feel a fresh perspective is needed in this industry to give it a boost. I feel there is a negative perception toward millennials, but the reality is we are just different. And different is not bad. We want to work smarter, not harder. We do not want to be stressed. We want to engage with our teams and have fun at work and see results. We are very results driven. The less stressed we are the more productive we are. And I believe bringing that dynamic into the forefront of our industry is going to take [it] to a completely new platform of how work is performed inside and outside the office. This will only serve to benefit our customers and future customers, who have yet to become homeowners.
Our No. 1 threat is that we are not seeing enough students entering the trades. And looking back to when I was in high school, there was never any mention of the trades. The idea was this: You go to college after high school, get a degree and go to work. … Knowing what I know now, it is extremely eye opening. The opportunity to grow in this field can lead to amazing things. I have witnessed it firsthand. I feel we need to be doing much more with schools – junior high and high schools – to expose children (boys and girls) to the potential the trades have for them to live a comfortable life and dispel some of the myths about how “dirty” the industry is. I also think we are facing some obstacles in legislation but believe if propane marketers continue to work united, as I see this industry doing through organizations like PGANE and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), we will overcome legislative obstacles.
How then can the propane industry prosper in the coming years? One of the ways is to shift our attention to recruiting. Invest time and money in the next generation by taking the time to teach them and show them what the trades can offer. Also, now that certain restrictions have been lifted through legislation, the propane industry has the ability to remarket propane to consumers. Showcasing the versatility of propane and how it is a safe, clean, efficient fuel for homeowners and business owners. Continuing with the large-scale marketing campaigns, such as the “Blue” campaign. I would suggest that in the next round of heavy marketing and advertising about propane through PERC that there is a stronger call to action for people to take to lead them to finding a propane supplier near them. Additionally, we need to continue to make offering rebates easy for both the propane marketer and the consumer.
What does your generation offer to the propane industry that previous generations did not? Balance. There is something happening now that is new not only to the industry but also to the global economy, and that is the blending of the millennial and Gen X mindset. Millennials offer a different work-ethic perspective, which needs to be taken into account as companies continue to make decisions to move their businesses into the future.
What technologies are you using (or plan to use) to support business operations? Almost three years ago we implemented Ignite/Blue Cow, which is a great tool for our customer database. Recently we implemented WrightSoft, a tool that measures a home’s or business’ heating and cooling load. Now our equipment sales representatives, installers and customers know that the equipment being installed at their home or business is properly sized and will run efficiently. We are in the process of implementing GoldMine as our CRM to better manage our sales prospects. However, one of the major things we leverage from a marketing standpoint is our social media platform. Our Facebook insights show that we are one of the top-ranked HVAC companies in our region for consumer engagement. We are also starting to pave the way on Instagram (@PalmerGas) and SnapChat (PalmerGas), which will tap us into a younger audience to help maintain brand recognition over time.