Build business through delivery, appliances and service

July 16, 2013 By    

The delivery of propane to a tank by itself cannot meet the consumer’s need.

Instead, the customer’s need is met when propane is used to fuel the appliance that was installed and serviced by a company’s technician. It’s this trio combination that delivers propane’s benefits to the customer. Three things working together to form a complete solution to satisfy a need is a concept of life.

Some examples of life’s trinity concept are the Cajun chef’s holy trinity: bell pepper, onion and celery. Golf instructors teach head down, tempo and follow-through. Physical fitness instructors emphasize cardio, strengthening and stretching exercises. Christian doctrine teaches the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together carry out God’s plan for man.

This trinity principle teaches us that each part of the trio supports the weight and purpose of the other to meet a need. Remove one of the parts from the trio and the need is not met. This is true for the propane industry.

The focus on a customer’s need drives the propane marketer’s decision to engage in the holy trinity of propane delivery, appliances and service. The customer does not need propane; they need solutions that deliver warmth, hot water and comfort.

Dwain Willingham, founder of Propane Resources, first taught this message in the 1990s. Dwain’s message is still relevant today because the customer’s needs have not changed. Propane customers served by marketers engaged in all three businesses are provided the solution that meets their need. Customers served by gas haulers only must figure out for themselves the right appliance for their application and must locate a reliable technician for appliance installation and repair. It’s like the baker selling flour to the person in need of a loaf of bread.

Propane marketers have three reasons to be engaged in the trinity of propane delivery, appliance and service businesses:

1. Organic growth – The desire to grow is a natural inclination of any business leader; in fact, it’s imperative for the survival of any company and industry. Our industry is in desperate need of marketers oriented to organic growth made possible by propane’s holy trinity.

2. Maximize business value – More than 50 percent of the propane business value is its customer list. These long-term customer relationships are built on personal service, which places the propane marketer in the position as the trusted adviser for customers’ home energy needs. Local HVAC and home appliance dealers crave the customer relationships held by the propane marketer. Yet, for most of the industry, the sales gallons and revenue growth potential is not realized because their offering is limited to gas delivery.

3. The customer’s needs – “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer,” says the late Peter Drucker, who was a writer, professor and management consultant. The customer whose need for warmth, comfort and hot water is met will become a new propane industry customer and will more likely stay as a propane industry customer.

Growth opportunities

The industry’s gallon decline has caused propane marketers to search for new gallon and revenue growth opportunities.

Their best solution is to expand their offering to include appliance and service. By getting started now, it will take three to five years to develop a mature, full-service propane business. If your appliance and service businesses are not performing, now is the time to turn that around.

Here are some milestones:

1. Do your customers think of you first when they need a gas appliance for their home?

2. Are you confident your appliance offerings are in line with your customers’ needs?

3. Can you service what you sell?

4. Are you growing burner tips and revenue through your existing customer base?

The propane company that effectively adopts the Holy Trinity of Propane concept will organically grow and retain propane customers.

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

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