Five vital signs to get your propane business running at optimal levels

October 18, 2014 By and    

Business owners and executives have long sought answers to the question of “What creates superior performance in my company?”

The desire to answer this question makes perfect sense. Superior performance is a natural ambition of business leaders and an imperative to survival. It’s fair to say that every responsibly minded propane business owner, executive or middle manager, in any size company, has made high performance a priority. But one challenge is deciding which of the company’s vital signs are most important.

Presented below are five of the most important vital signs that produce superior financial results:

1. Ensure effective leadership at all levels of management – Business performance starts with leadership. Good companies can be ruined by ineffective leadership, while an effective propane branch manager can turn around a store on the brink of closing. Leadership sets the vision and goals that focus employees. Leaders understand they create the work environment in which employees want to do their best. The best companies recognize and develop leadership talent. Effective leaders understand that financial performance starts with the employees they lead.

2. Grow customers, burner tips and spark plugs – Growth is a company’s lifeblood. Growth results from effective marketing and the development of new markets from propane’s versatile uses. Leaders invest resources to develop growth opportunities. Growing propane companies think and act like a retailer, not an industrial gas hauler. The employees of a growing propane company exude optimism and confidence, which will make a favorable impression on the customer.

3. Optimize propane margin – Propane margin is the most significant controllable number on the income statement. Top-performing companies understand that propane margin begins with supply arrangements that are dependable, sufficient and at the least cost. These companies are savvy about hedging propane’s market risk. The retail pricing practices strike the sweet spot of being competitive while maximizing the company’s financial return.

4. Provide excellent gas delivery service – Top-performing propane companies deliver the worry-free experience to the customer. They have reliable delivery systems enabled by computer technology to anticipate each customer’s demand. If the customer must be a will-call, they are managed. As a result, out-of-gas incidents are minimal, and when they happen they are resolved in a timely manner. Customers of top-performing companies feel confident that they are never forgotten in a cold winter. Excellent gas delivery service also means the company relieves the customer of the fear of price spikes and the high invoice due in 30 days.

5. Provide reliable gas appliance expertise and service – Top-performing propane marketers understand that each customer relies on marketer expertise to help them with their gas appliance purchase, installation and service. Being the propane expert means the best gas-burning products are offered and that a qualified service tech or subcontractor is ready to install and service the customer in a timely and professional manner.

Becoming a top-performing propane company requires charting a course that will focus on the critical vital signs required, monitoring progress, making adjustments along the way and staying determined to reach the goal.

Randy Doyle is CFO for Blossman Gas in Ocean Springs, Miss. He can be reached at rdoyle@blossmangas.com.

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