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A Roadmap to Success

By: Philip J. Baratz

There is an old adage that you can’t get anywhere if you don’t start with knowing where you are. Scoring yourself and your company can get you moving in the right direction.

There are so many quotes attributed to the value of scoring, such as “If it doesn’t matter who wins, why do they keep score?” and “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”  Two premises that we ascribe to are: (1)That which is measured improves, and (2) that which is measured and reported improves even more.

Companies are finally starting to “mine their data” for information about their customer base.  Ranging from how long customers stay with them,  to the number of of “call backs” by service technician, our industry is taking advantage of data reporting in ways that were not available or considered as recently as a few years ago.  That is great news for the industry.  Maybe (I might as well wish for things!) that will lead to more realistic approaches in customer solicitations–if it is ONLY about what you can give away to get a new customer, what is that customer really worth to you?  But I digress…

To those who understand the value of “scoring” and self-awareness, the next logical step should be to look within your own organizations to see how you are doing internally. There is more to life than simply margin per gallon sold.  The way that we know that is through the recognition of some of our clients who are more profitable (net profits) than others who have larger margins (gross profits).  There are many categories that need to be assessed, but all too often we revert back to the standard of “this is the way we have always done it.” If you aren’t keeping score, you don’t know if that way works, doesn’t work or if you are simply burying your head in the sand.

When it comes to budgeting and finance, do you set an annual budget because your bank wants one?  Do you review your margins monthly to see if there is a need for mid-season modifications?  Do you get daily reporting to all of your “stakeholders,” so that they know what is going on?  Are your CSR’s capable of handling basic customer questions and requests, or is there a process in place to keep them fully trained to upsell and cross-sell?

There are many categories within a company, some related to management and finance, some to marketing and sales and the rest to technology and operations.  If you are managing the operation through osmosis, you may never understand what you are missing out on–unless the notion of “best practices” is simply a term that you nod your head to.

There are more moving parts in an oil company than ever before.  There are also more tools available than ever before.  We are very pleased to see additional reporting and number crunching, and we strongly encourage all of its usage.  However, there may be a great deal of value in stepping back and assessing your organization, its management and approaches.

We’ve had a few clients fill out a “Dealer Success Scoreboard” that we created.  Most scored themselves honestly, and found that “room for improvement” is not a bad thing, but actually a highly motivating one!  By self-measuring, you may well find that your ambition to improve increases dramatically.  The assessment should take just a few minutes.  Isn’t that worth it?

Phil_BaratzPhilip J. Baratz is president of Angus Energy which he co-founded in 1991 and the Managing Member of Angus Partners, LLC. Angus began providing hedging services in 1991, and has grown steadily, with over 600 clients, including publicly traded companies and municipalities. Angus offers a diverse range of products and services to distributors and end users, each customized to the needs and locations of the client.

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