Can you make money off seemingly onerous proposed EPA regs? While some marketers sit griping and grumbling about proposed rules requiring spill plans on 1320+ gallon tanks, other marketers are heralding this news as a way to make seriously more money. How? By capitalizing on the EPA’s misguided quest for SPCC plans. They are using that news to convert their existing delivered fuel customers to more profitable mobile fueling, plus winning over other marketers’ customers (maybe even yours!) to boot!
If your company currently places large temporary tanks in the field, or you fuel large customer-owned tanks, the proposed EPA rules may be just enough to scare your customers and prospects into seeing the merits of this high margin service that saves them money and liability. This may be the ideal window of opportunity to seize more profits, plus cement in customers.
With mobile fueling, instead of placing a tank on the customer’s job site, you individually fuel each piece of the customer’s equipment off your truck. Fueling frequency and times are pre-determined by the customer to minimize his operating costs. What you bring to the table for your customer is:
• Increase in productivity and profitability through elimination of nonproductive labor.
• No lost cash flow from fuel inventories.
• Control and information via weekly and monthly fuel consumption reports.
• Emergency on-site fuel delivery as needed.
• Fueling flexibility and fuel availability before and after severe weather or other emergencies.
• Liability reduction (liability shifts from customer to fueler).
• Elimination of credit card abuse.
• Elimination of storage tanks.
• Elimination of unauthorized fueling.
What you get in return is higher margins, service fees and bottom-line profit!
To enter this game competitively, you will need state-of-the art technology that includes on-board computers and sophisticated reporting systems. Each customer must be provided with accurate data by vehicle in exactly the format they request. In essence, what you are selling is complete control of every drop of fuel in their system!
Entering this market requires capital investment: trucks, computers and people. Don’t jump in with both feet until you have tested demand in your market. On the other hand, don’t wait to ask your customers the question until your biggest customer demands the service. You could lose your best customer! Any large fleet normally parked at night is the perfect mobile fueling candidate.
Want a look at your potential competition? A simple Internet search under “Mobile Fueling” will provide a glimpse at competitor value propositions and technology. From bar codes, to radio frequency, this game is not for the techno-phobic, but it’s not rocket science either.
In addition to trucks, computers and a billing staff, you will need competent, well-trained night drivers. Some marketers find mobile fueling to be a perfect ROI generator for trucks that were previously idol during third shift. But you must also cultivate quality night drivers that will treat customer equipment like it’s their own.
Other than equipment and drivers, another key to success in mobile fueling is competent sales staff thoroughly trained in detailed cost analysis. It is your salesperson’s job to prove to potential customers exactly how much money mobile fueling will save them. The cost analysis must incorporate all the hidden costs in self-fueling. A superstar salesperson will use the proposed EPA regs to create looming liability and costs. Companies will pay premium dollars for mobile fueling in order to shift liability when the facts are presented well.
As you do your mobile fueling homework, remember to check on licensing and other state regulations. Mobile fueling is typically regulated at the state level and you may have local ordinances to deal with too. In fact, one state, Washington, did a study on mobile fuelers back in 1998 as they were working on regulations.
Of 180 wholesale marketers in the state at the time, only 18 offered mobile fueling. Of those, 16 provided data via a survey which showed they were averaging about one million gallons per month in mobile fuel sales, an average of 245 customers which they visited 13 times per month using an average 15 vehicles with 50% of that fueling occurring after dark. This is a six-year old study when mobile fueling was in its infancy. Can you imagine the data now?
The EPA may be significantly changing the landscape of commercial fueling if they are successful with their new SPCC regs. Forward thinking marketers will not only be ready, they will be profiting from the change! Successful companies in every industry have visionary leaders that adapt to changing market conditions, tweaking their business model at every opportunity. This may be one of those opportunities!