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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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FinTech

by Larry Richmond, Richmond Financial Services


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Use it to gain advantage

It wasn’t long ago that much of the world seemed to be in a philosophical battle of sorts over whether technology, with all of its conveniences, was bringing people closer together or driving them apart. There are surely arguments for both sides, but that’s another discussion.

Today, especially after social distancing, there is no doubt from my standpoint that technology is bringing us together and keeping us connected like never before. It’s also evident that the disruptive ideas of yesterday are the solutions of today. That also means the innovations taking place right now are going to be what makes or breaks our position for the future.


Financial Technology (FinTech) and Loyalty

What does that mean for you? As your home heating fuels business pivoted and adjusted to these unprecedented times, I encourage you to think about the ways financial technology (FinTech) has launched your business forward, and what more it can do for you looking beyond.

Yes, you absolutely want to employ best-in-class financial technology that allows you to save time and money, but if you’re in this business for the long-haul (and I know you are), I want you to take a minute to consider how making use of today’s technologies and planning for tomorrow’s innovations is critical to your business. Positioning your company to be nimble and quick, while incorporating next-generation ideas that generate more profits for today’s bottom line, is paramount to success.

We all know that retaining customers and getting them to refer you to other potential clients are two important aspects of growing your business and maintaining its success. Smart business owners and leaders make significant investments to foster customer loyalty and referral strategies. They understand that satisfied clients are easier to retain. What’s more, they also understand that connecting with customers on a personal level is an essential driving force behind customer loyalty.

So, how do you stay connected to your customers when you may not have any face time with them? Through technology, of course.

Imagine this: You’ve just finished refilling a customer’s tank. They want to pay you, you want to get paid, and you both want this accomplished in a fast, convenient and personable fashion. With our smart phones always close at hand, what is more convenient than text messaging?

Emerging technologies are offering fully integrated solutions that allow your customers to pay for the fuel they just received (or plan for future payments) via text. As their heating fuel provider, you’re able to offer a way for them to settle their account and engage with you in a comfortable and convenient fashion. This is totally achievable and can happen quickly if you are not doing this already. Suddenly, it’s not just about providing a service and getting paid. You’re building trust and loyalty, which increases both retention and the likelihood of referrals.

Connections, loyalty, success, and growth are all important cornerstones that mold the future of our businesses, and the common denominator is FinTech.

A quick personal note here: the heating fuels industry is one of the greatest communities I’ve had the privilege to be part of. The times I’ve spent helping business owners grow their companies and save money through disruptive and effective payment processing solutions were — and still are — some of the greatest highlights of my career. Advocating and helping the fuels industry take things to the next level, including implementing technologies that foster convenience, loyalty, and cost savings, is exciting.


Data Portability Spawns Free Agency and Innovation

So what’s next for the heating fuel company that has embraced FinTech?

Data portability — what is it?

Data portability provides the fuel dealer control over their credit card tokens. Very few merchants are aware that they do not control this critical piece of data that in itself tips the scale, shifting the leverage back to the merchant. It empowers the merchant with the ability to pivot or make changes to ensure they are working with the best vendors and experts for their business.

Data portability is essential for professionals in the heating fuels industry as it levels the playing field, creating a true “free agency environment.” Vendor flexibility is crucial to ensure you’re always receiving best-in-class electronic payment expertise while benefiting from the best technology tools built specifically for fuel dealers. This means that payment vendors (and you) must consistently evolve offerings to retain customers and build a reputation as a forward-thinking company pushing the envelope to be the best today and tomorrow.

Larry Richmond is Treasury Strategist and President at Richmond Financial Services. He can be reached at 617-843-5700 ext. 200 or larry@richmondfs.com.


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