Online program benefits marketers and their customers

August 6, 2011 By    

Propane marketers interested in educating their customers about safety, providing cost-effective products and services, and protecting their businesses against liability claims have a new online tool to satisfy their needs.

Propane Coupons LLC is the work of propane industry veteran Bill Thacher, who launched about two months ago to supplement propane marketers’ duty-to-warn materials. Discussions with insurance companies concerned about marketers’ duty-to-warn responsibilities became the impetus behind Thacher’s new company and interactive website.

“It provides third-party documentation of their customers’ safety education,” says Thacher, who has spent 41 years in the propane industry, the last 15 providing various services to retail propane marketers through his other California-based company, 1st Propane.

On the website, customers quickly learn about the basic elements of propane safety and then are quizzed on the content. By answering the questions correctly, the customer can earn and print a coupon for an amount between $1 and $50 – chosen by the propane marketer and redeemable at participating locations.

The coupon is customized for the marketer and customer, with the company’s name and address as well as documentation that the customer successfully completed the testing on a specific date.

“There’s a permanent electronic record in our database that shows the customer, on this date, who lives at this address, took this online learning module and answered quiz questions correctly and earned his coupon,” Thacher explains. “If there is ever any doubt whether this person knew something about propane, we can go back and say he took this module a couple of years ago and earned a $5 coupon.”

Four modules are currently offered – About Propane, New Customers, Barbecue Safety and Carbon Monoxide – and Thacher plans to add four to six more.

Thacher, the company’s only employee who outsources the website’s development, says the challenge now becomes deciding how best to promote the project, in its early stages, to the industry. Only a small number of propane marketers and consumers are currently involved. Though Thacher has not set a target number of participants for the program, he plans to gain the interest of liability insurance companies at the outset.

Propane Coupons LLC offers free memberships to propane marketers, who can register at the site with no obligations. Marketers only incur a 40-cent charge per coupon earned for their location, though Thacher is currently offering free coupons to mail to end-use customers.

“This is part of an ongoing program; it’s not a solution for all duties to warn,” Thacher says of Propane Coupons. “Well-run companies have these programs. Plus, it’s good PR.”

TEAM: Owner Bill Thacher
LOCATION: Rancho Murieta, Calif.
NOTABLE: Thacher is also CEO of 1st Propane, a company that assists in the development and management of retail propane operations.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the senior editor of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3724.

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