LPG Spotlight: Sweetwater Propane

February 24, 2020 By    

For nearly 20 years, Sweetwater Propane has provided propane and propane exchange tanks to southeastern Pennsylvania.

Photo courtesy of Sweetwater Propane

Photo courtesy of Sweetwater Propane

Founded as a family business in 2011, Sweetwater says on its website it “will go above and beyond to ensure the comfort and safety of our clients comes first.”

Ensuring the comfort and safety of customers means always having product available and deliverable. Two products help Sweetwater to manage its supply and, equally importantly, its cash flow. In 2016, Sweetwater added two new contract options: an auto-fill (with discount) option and a monitor/will-call option.

Tank monitoring software from Tank Utility enables Sweetwater to monitor its customers’ propane needs and its own supply requirements. Customers like avoiding the worry of running out and having to continually check their tanks.

With auto-fill, the customer agrees that Sweetwater will be the sole propane supplier. The customer can monitor supply on a downloadable app, and Sweetwater can view all of its accounts on its own server and schedule deliveries as needed.

The monitor/will-call option also provides the customer with an app to monitor the tank. Tank monitoring enables Sweetwater to notify the customer when it’s time to order a delivery.

In addition, with the auto-fill option, the customer agrees to a lock-and-key system supplied by Lock America of Corona, California. The locks provide Sweetwater with its own unique key code.

“The locks are solely for our benefit, and most customers don’t mind it,” explains Jesse Detweiler, service manager.

The lock-and-key system ensures prompt, secure delivery for the customer and contract compliance for Sweetwater. It also prevents customers from turning to another supplier for unauthorized fills or when their account is past due.

The auto-fill program allows Sweetwater greater control of its operations, sales, cash flow and product management.

“With monitors, definitely we have an increase in retaining those automatic-fill customers,” Detweiler says. “This is where the locks come into the picture. We want to make sure that we are the only supplier of those tanks to retain our investment in the tank monitor.”

Do customers mind the locks? While several decline the program, Sweetwater started with a few dozen locks and now has installed more than 1,000.

Secured tank monitoring is one of a number of Sweetwater programs that enhance customer service while enhancing company revenue. A group buying program, for example, allows a group of customers in an area to pool their purchases and orders through a group leader for additional discounts. The customer benefits from reduced costs, and Sweetwater benefits from efficient delivery.

Like the group buying program, Sweetwater’s website is designed to enhance the customer experience. Customers can open an account, download forms, order propane, monitor their account, pay bills and renew their contracts.

In a competitive market, Sweetwater’s commitment to the customer has helped build an operation that serves both the customer and its goals, ensuring long-term growth and stability.

Richard Morahan is the president of RM Associates, which specializes in business-to-business communications.

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