LP Gas

Building a business model that embraces new technology

Blue Cow Software offers a two-way text service with its Ignite software suite. Photo: iStock.com/aniaostudio

A simple smartphone or tablet can revolutionize day-to-day operations within this industry. Photo: iStock.com/aniaostudio

A lean business is not a mean one, as if one causes the other. In the language of sports and the locker room, a professional athlete must be lean. He must possess the strength of absolute conditioning, the extreme muscular structure of intense training and a mean attitude that is as resolute as it is merciless.

In reality, a lean propane company is agile and responsive. It maximizes its resources, taking full advantage of mobile technology, customized marketing and real-time intelligence to streamline operations, increase productivity, enhance efficiency, improve workplace morale and solidify relationships with new and longstanding clients.

The visible example of leanness, which is measurable but not mean, can reduce costs, eliminate piles of paperwork, decrease the amount of manual duties and end the guesswork concerning outreach to prospective customers.

The good news is that far from being a forecast of an imaginary and almost utopian business future, the propane delivery business of tomorrow can be – and for some, it already is – the company of today, which can forever change the way an executive approaches the literal tomorrow. The “business of tomorrow” does not have to be like a dismantled exhibition from a world’s fair exhibit on technology automation.

For example, a lean enterprise doesn’t rely on trial and error as a marketing strategy when technology enables a propane retailer to build a comprehensive database within a year, as opposed to three to five years, at a fraction of the cost of the marketplace as it exists right now.

Imagine the breakup of regional monopolies or the entry of other propane retailers into these areas, thanks to the disruptive technology described above. Think of the accuracy of this model and the personalized messaging of this format, with the profitable results that accrue to those who “go lean.” Consider, too, the way a simple smartphone or tablet can further cut the proverbial fat and revolutionize day-to-day operations within this industry.

Picture a geographic-specific digital dashboard. Envision a color-coded map of the delivery routes and drivers, showing the whereabouts and status of each worker, in which communication and collaboration are the twin rewards of a lean propane business. Using digital technology rids employees of the need to document each assignment with paper receipts. Benefits empower everyone to enjoy a safer, more secure experience both in the office and on the road.

Aside from canceling redundancies and avoiding cost overruns, leanness is the savior of sales. Every invoice, image, signature, proposal or timesheet is now part of the paperless office, thanks to wireless transmission of various transactions and technical tasks. These things can be formatted for printing, but they do not require printing to do business.

The office manager or vice president of operations should be the icon of leanness. Technology liberates that person from the drudgery of having to sort, stamp, stuff and send reams of paper tickets, checks, orders, calendars and weekly schedules via the U.S. Postal Service.

Leanness also marks the era of precision marketing, a phenomenon wrought by technology for those who seek to write with intelligence and intimacy. It symbolizes a victory for clarity and targeted outreach over ambiguity and scattershot advertisements and promotions.

In this newly competitive setting, aided by technology and assisted by a more communicative workforce, a propane retail business can adapt to change and maintain its superiority within one realm as it seeks to enter and thrive in another.

Therefore, leanness is a state of being as much as it is a state of mind. It creates the propane delivery business of tomorrow with a workplace culture of equal strength and versatility.

Smart in its approach and wise in its philosophy toward leadership, leanness is the ally for propane retailers. It is the friend of a bright tomorrow.

 

Bill Stomp is vice president of Digital Dispatcher. He can be reached at billstomp@digitaldispatcher.com.