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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

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Streamlined Sales & Staffing

by Richard Rutigliano, PriMedia, Inc.


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Companies just like yours are already using these tools to find new customers and employees

Our industry is all about maximizing efficiency for our customers, but too often fuel dealers fail to turn that focus to their own operations. There is a wealth of digital solutions that can deliver better customer service, streamline your operations, and increase profits in just about all situations, and especially right now, when so many companies are facing staffing shortages.


Offer a Personal, Digital Touch

Personal and digital are not opposing ends of the customer service spectrum. Combined, they provide a better, faster, and more accommodating customer experience. You have already digitized to some extent with your back-end CRM and by offering online payment options.

Your CSRs know your customers by name, help smooth over the occasional misstep, and go the extra mile to solve any problems. But they are overwhelmed by dozens of “quick” calls each day to check an account balance or last tune-up date. With an integrated online portal, your customers can get these answers and more in less time than the call would take, and your CSRs can focus on those customers who need a little more hand holding.

Automated texts and emails can prompt will-call customers to place fuel orders with a reply text; send customers tune-up reminders and promotions for equipment upgrades; remind them of upcoming service appointments; and increase renewals for budget, price protection or service plans. Many customers prefer receiving these types of notifications via text or email, and the process reduces your staff obligations.

An online sales platform is a time-saving/profit-boosting solution for companies with a large will-call account base. Both long-standing customers and internet-surfing price shoppers are able to quickly check today’s price and place their orders. This platform should either integrate directly with your CRM or provide users with basic account managements options to make repeat orders as easy as possible.

Going a step further, digital loyalty programs offer customers a way to lower their fuel and service costs. These systems automatically calculate reward points for each purchase, which can be easily redeemed as account credits. As price uncertainty pushes even the most reliable customers to look for ways to save, a digital loyalty program can set your company apart.


Save Time, Save Money

How much time does your staff spend each week and month creating and sending invoices and statements? How much on budget plan and service plan reminders?

When you are short-staffed, these projects are an even bigger drain on your resources. Automating billing, budget and price protection plan enrollments, and service contract renewals cuts your staff time considerably. With integrated automatic email and text notifications, you should also see reductions in real costs such as printing and postage. Optimally, your digital billing and renewal/enrollment systems should include a robust and intuitive dashboard, flexible reporting, and a write-back feature to keep your CRM up-to-date and accurate.

Thankfully, digital can’t (yet) fully replace in-home service visits or sales calls. We still need to deliver fuel, provide hands-on repairs and tune-ups, and make the personal connections that close sales. This is the sweet spot where you excel. With a little digital assistance, however, that sweet spot can get sweeter – and larger.

Now that video chats have gained acceptance across all demographics, many HVAC companies have finally begun implementing virtual service calls. These remote visits enable your technician or service manager to visually inspect equipment, hear any “odd noises” and even walk the customer through basic troubleshooting. You arrive at the home with the right replacement parts in hand. Each in-home service call takes less time than in the past, making more customers happy and opening up time for more jobs. Remote consultations are great first steps in the sales process for new customers or equipment upgrades.


Finding Help

Whenever colleagues get together these days, you hear the same refrains: “I can’t find good help.” “There’s no one out there.” “Monster and InDeed are useless for our industry!”

Digital marketing can help you find staff, if you use it correctly. Your potential employees may not be on the traditional job sites, but they are on apps of all sorts. Utilize Google and Facebook’s targeted job platforms to deliver help-wanted posts and ads to individuals who are looking for technician, delivery or account services positions or interested in related topics; then reach beyond the standard applicant pool with programmatic targeting that specifically reaches people who recently visited a local supply warehouse or fuel terminal. You can even reach technicians and CDL drivers who didn’t know they wanted to work closer to home until your ad popped up on their app. Your new employee is waiting to hear from you!

Some companies have shied away from embracing digital solutions out of fear of losing one-on-one contact with customers. That may have been true 20 years ago, but today’s customers look for answers at the speed of now. You wouldn’t install a 30-year-old boiler, and you shouldn’t hold on to decades-old service procedures when more efficient solutions are readily available. It’s time to upgrade to keep pace with modern technology, and digitize to maximize your
operations and profits.

Richard Rutigliano is President of PriMedia, Inc., a firm offering digital marketing and other communications solutions for home energy companies. He can be reached at 516-222-2041 or admin@primediany.com.


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