By Mike Procopio
Blue Cow Software
Getting fuel oil or propane to a customer’s home is not a simple process, especially if you want to make money while doing it. Customer demands, driver shortages, and increasing traffic congestion make deliveries more challenging than ever. Which means it is more important than ever to efficiently manage the multiple elements that go into each delivery.
There are ways to streamline and better manage the delivery process, establish and maintain a competitive advantage, and generate new and repeat business. While “best practices” will differ between organizations and markets, there are a number of approaches that apply to any fuel oil or propane company when it comes to improving delivery efficiency.
- Streamline and simplify your processes – Are you using multiple programs or systems to manage fuel purchasing, delivery scheduling, routing, billing and accounting? This can complicate and slow the process. You and your team should have complete transparency and visibility of the supply chain from inventory to the customer’s home, including dispatch, traffic routing and invoicing.
- Step up communication – Speeding up the delivery process starts with taking the order in the first place. If you are still writing down a delivery order by hand, or still need to transfer the order from one system to another, you have already started off behind the efficiency curve. Invest in a system that integrates orders, scheduling, inventory, and dispatch systems. Having a single integrated system also moves orders from sales to scheduling to the dispatcher’s desk.
- Get rid of paper – Replacing your old paperwork with electronic data will make the process much quicker, creates an easily retrievable communication trail, eliminates bulky storage requirements, and gives access to the right people at the right time.
- Keep your customers informed – Customers don’t want to complain. But they will, especially if they feel they are being kept in the dark. Today’s technologically advanced fuel management software systems can integrate automated alerts (text, voice or email) to let customers know when to expect a delivery or – more importantly – if there is an unexpected delay. Customers satisfaction rises when they know what’s happening.
Utilizing available technology to help with the management of the fuel delivery process is an important step for any business looking to optimize its delivery processes and differentiate their service. Putting these “best practices” into action can help to lower costs, eliminate operational complexity and improve customer service.