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4 categories to update your business data

July 28, 2022 By    

With the last heating season in the rearview mirror, your databases have been through a lot. And while the upcoming heating season seems like it’s on the distant horizon, it will come sooner than you think. Now is a great time to check and recheck your data.

We focus on our customer and equipment information, and while it sounds simple, it’s a bit complicated:

Active customers

When you set your tank at a customer site or perform a gas pressure check at a customer-owned tank site, you have a new active customer. Conversely, if you pick up your tank from a customer site, or a customer calls to terminate service, you lose an active customer. But customers who own their tanks, at least in our market, often fade away by simply not placing orders. And unless you diligently run reports on your leased tanks in the field, the same may even occur with your leased tanks.

We now periodically update our data to deactivate customers who have not placed an order with us in the most recently completed heating season unless they are designated as a limited usage customer. If it’s one of our tanks, we send a notification and then pick it up. Today’s steel prices have given us even more incentive to make sure our tanks in the field are active or generating rental income.

Customer information

Customer information always is out of date. The question is just how out of date it is.

Contact information: Phone numbers and email addresses are the most important, especially if you use digital communication as much as we do. Customers who communicate early and often usually are not the issue; it’s the less frequent, intermittent usage customers who are the problem. We use our annual communication of price protection plans for the upcoming winter and safety information as real-world tests. Without fail, we receive return failures and then begin the process of hunting down the new information.

Payment information: Now is a great time to identify expired credit cards or cards that are about to expire.

Delivery and payment methods: Electronic communication has made the decision to communicate this information easy. We confirm the customer’s status on will-call or auto-fill and the current payment method on file. We avoid a lot of angry calls with this one.

Credit review: If you have not already reviewed your customers’ payment history last winter, now is the time to do so. A possible recession and energy volatility are going to make collections a challenge for many of you. Some of your customers have given you warning signs with their recent payment history. If your software accommodates budget plans, now might be the time to make a pitch to the customers who will benefit from it.

Equipment information

Our field team is required to confirm serial numbers and the manufacturing date for tank regulators every time they make a fill, and to note tanks that require special maintenance. And yes, despite the approximate 1,100-pound weight of an empty 500-gallon tank, we have discovered tanks that have been moved.

If you use monitors, you also will want to make sure to match up the on-site monitors with the monitors in your software.


Make sure your documentation matches up with your customer data. For example, whether they be physical or digital, signed leases, gas check forms, customer agreements and other documents should match up with your data. If a customer record says there’s a gas check on file, you should make sure there really is.

Making sure your data is up to date is about as exciting as watching the corn grow in the Midwest in July. But it sure is a lot better than discovering data gaps or incorrect information when you are trying to move at a faster pace this winter.

Christopher Caywood is a co-owner of Caywood Propane Gas Inc. 

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