Reduce the Risk of Lost Transactions by Leveraging Data
Every business has interruptions. To pretend otherwise is to risk disaster. Of all the risks your business faces, not having a plan for interruptions is the only one that is 100% preventable. Through planning, the rest can be mitigated or even eliminated. And when the unexpected does pop up, having the right data in the right place can make things easier to manage.
Be aware of the atmosphere
Product outages are unavoidable. Despite everything running smoothly at a terminal, some things are simply out of your control.
Hurricane season is longer than it used to be, and storms are more severe. But it’s not just the refining and transit locations in the U.S. Gulf Coast that experience inclement weather. Tornadoes plague the Midwest and inland southern states. In addition, the energy industry learned a very recent lesson that severe winter weather can cripple a grid, bringing business to a standstill. While it’s a good idea to pay attention to the daily forecast, savvy downstream operators know to closely monitor the weather in any location where a severe storm could affect the supply or demand so they can make necessary movements.
Often, supply interruptions have more mundane causes, like routine repairs or maintenance. In any case, by anticipating possible supply interruptions, you can arrange product delivery from unaffected areas and keep your customers supplied.
Happy customers fuel success
Happy customers are 93% more likely to repeat business when satisfied.Loading fuel is inherently dangerous. That’s the reason behind many safeguards and procedures at the rack. While the upside of those rules is they prevent disaster, the downside is they introduce complexities. If an issue pops up during loading, it must be addressed quickly. Drivers are busy and routinely have multiple racks to visit during their shifts. If they get impatient, they could decide to bolt for another supplier. That’s expensive — not just for the individual drive-off but also for your reputation as a dependable supplier. Conversely, happy customers are 93% more likely to repeat business when satisfied.
Having an open line of communication is critical to keeping your business profitable and growing. Whenever possible, be proactive with credit, allocation, and supply notifications. If a product is out at one location, but the customer still has available allocation and credit, see if you can direct them to another location stocked with the fuel they want.
Don’t send the wrong signal
Of course, all the good intentions of proactive communication won’t help achieve your goal of delivering a superior customer experience if you send a message to the wrong person — or worse. For example, if you tell a customer there is no supply at a specific terminal but meant to send it to a different customer heading to another terminal, you could lose that transaction. Using digitalization, notifications regarding allocations, credit limits, and product availability can be both timely and appropriate. With a modern dashboard interface, you can isolate by customer or terminal and send the specific communication that a particular customer needs to fix their issue.
Forecasting for future success
Running out of a product is expensive. If you sold 80,000 gallons in a month — but only had 74,000 available — you could expose yourself to a loss of over $150,000.You can easily track every gallon of product. Each supply and each lifting generate several data points: product code, quantity, date/time, allocation remaining, available credit, and more. That’s obviously important, but it’s also what economists call a trailing indicator of your business. That is, the data reports something that has already happened. However, by putting your data to work through analysis, you can turn it into a leading indicator: reporting on something likely to happen — allowing you to forecast business needs. In a practical example, instead of waiting for a customer to request an allocation or credit allowance, you can have that change automatically triggered by thresholds that you establish based on previous data.
It also reduces your exposure to financial risk. Running out of a product is expensive. If you sold 80,000 gallons in a month — but only had 74,000 available — you could expose yourself to a loss of over $150,000. With better data, you’ll know exactly where your product is, when it’s going to be available, and what you can confidently sell.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” By using data to anticipate weather threats, alert your customers to supply, credit, and allocation issues — and better predict and understand your supply and demand needs — you can increase your bottom line, keep current customers happy, and acquire new ones. Data can inform operational intelligence for your enterprise, which can fuel business health and growth in the face of ever-increasing challenges.
Learn more about DTN TABS, including how it can help you reduce your exposure by better leveraging your data.