Encouraging propane drivers to promote safety, selling

October 7, 2016 By    
Photo courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council

Relationship selling is one of the strongest avenues of the sales process, and your drivers are usually the main point of contact for your customers. Photo courtesy of the Propane Education & Research Council

Are your drivers involved in creating sales opportunities and promoting safety, or is delivering propane just a process of hauling a commodity for a paycheck?

The television comedy “The King of Queens,” starring Kevin James as a parcel delivery driver, features a theme song that sums up the attitude of many professional drivers across the country: “My eyes are gettin’ weary / my back is gettin’ tight / I’m sittin’ here in traffic / on the Queensborough bridge tonight / But I don’t care cuz all I wanna do / is cash my check and drive right home to you / Cuz baby all my life I will be driving home to you.”

Creating customer loyalty, promoting safety and encouraging efficient use of our products is one of the biggest challenges in the propane industry. In truth, many propane drivers just want to haul gas and get home, and many companies limit a driver’s scope to do just that.

In the grand scheme of specialization and efficiency, this attitude may make sense. However, in today’s multitasking management environment, everyone must sell while they deliver a product or provide service. A 360-degree sales force creates the value that separates growth and success from low margins and lost gallons.

This topic came up at an association board meeting while discussing the value of rebate programs and the challenge of using employees who know your customers best to create sales opportunities.

Rebate programs for water heaters have created a great sales opportunity for propane marketers by getting consumers and contractors to pull the plug on inefficient and expensive electric water heaters.

Regulator rebate programs also serve as a process to perform a gas system check or a leak check on the system and, most importantly, find and fix leaking or broken equipment. Lastly, it documents your file on system integrity.

Creating the sale doesn’t have to involve selling as much as awareness of opportunities to create a referral on which sales and service folks can follow up. It might go something like this: “May I make a recommendation? We have a program to save you money and encourage system efficiency with our water heater rebate program. May I have Bob or Sue from the home office give you a call about the details?”

Relationship selling is one of the strongest avenues of the sales process, and your drivers are usually the main point of contact for your customers. Over time, they get to know them, and trust begins to develop. That trust can create new sales if framed in a way that makes it easy for the driver to add an “Oh, by the way” while on the premises delivering gas.

Oh, by the way, have you ever considered a garage heater or fireplace insert? Oh, by the way, how old is your water heater? Oh, by the way, we have a new rebate program on high-efficiency furnace replacement – how old is your furnace? Oh, by the way, we have some new products that can improve efficiency and save money – can I have someone call you about the details? Oh, by the way, have you seen our new website? Oh, by the way, can I get your email address so we can share updates and customer value programs? Oh, by the way, I may be able to get you better pricing if you sign up for our scheduled delivery program.

These are obvious questions that can be asked to communicate, generate interest and secure customer loyalty. Unfortunately, most of us don’t ask them. We’re too busy doing what we have always done, but we all know that’s no way to grow.

I want to encourage you to discuss these thoughts at your next safety meeting. Don’t think in terms of compliance as much as thinking of it as creating sales opportunities while selling safety. It’s a win-win value that will go a long way toward profitable results and protecting your bottom line.


Jay Johnston is an insurance executive, safety management consultant and inspirational safety speaker in the propane industry. He can be reached at jay@thesafetyleader.com or 612-802-0663.

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