Tom's distinguished career in propane, spanning five decades, makes him an invaluable resource for our clients and the industry. He's done everything from driving bobtails to running marketing and sales for Ferrellgas, one of the largest Propane MLPs in the country. He also founded NRG Distributors, a gas appliance distribution company based in Michigan, which was eventually sold to Ray Murray, Inc. Tom continues to hold a mechanical contractor license and closely follows advancements in propane heating equipment and appliances. He is passionate about packaging all that experience and knowledge into helping our clients figure out ways to grow their gallons.Tom is a frequent contributor to LP Gas Magazine. He facilitates a Benchmarking Council Group for NPGA and is chair of the NPGA Government Affairs Committee. All this activity barely leaves him time to tend to his small vineyard and commercially licensed winery in northern Michigan. Tom also likes to travel to faraway and exotic locales, like our headquarters in New Jersey.
Susan is an unmistakable champion for the heating oil industry who spearheads Warm Thoughts’ Partnership for Realty and Oilheat Success. PRO$ has operated in 9 states to help Realtors overcome obstacles in the sale and marketing of oil-heated homes. Under her guidance, PRO$ has connected with literally hundreds of thousands of Realtors nationwide, coordinating thousands of in-office presentations, appearing at hundreds of trade shows, establishing a recognizable presence on social media, and getting much needed support materials into the hands of real estate agents.
As a former real estate veteran and award-winning top producer herself, Susan is passionate about helping other real estate professionals, and makes herself available all hours of day and night. Utterly authentic, this “Jersey Girl” always finds common ground, whether in the hills of rural Ohio, downtown Baltimore, or toney Greenwich, Ct. She is a master of social media, with over 4,000 Facebook followers, and helped launch Warm Thoughts’ very successful social media consulting program. When Susan is not in the field presenting the PRO$ program, she is passionately committed to saving animals, as founder and president of Rosemarie’s Rescue Ranch, Inc. (rosemariesrescueranch.com)
After years of focusing on growth principally through acquisition, Bottini engaged Warm Thoughts to help aggressively grow its business organically.
Warm Thoughts refocused the Bottini brand, and helped the company put together a sales and marketing plan that emphasized growth in customer count and quality. We executed a new digital strategy, including a new website, SEO, social media and pay-per-click for both full-service and discount brands, which dramatically increased leads and web visits. We helped overhaul sales compensation, implemented training and invigorated customer communications efforts with newsletters, e-blasts, and more. We managed merger communications to maximize retention,drove a surge in budget and auto-pay accounts, and helped increased delivery fees on propane accounts with little customer pushback.
Highlights: Exceeded growth goals in propane and sales accounts, dramatic improvement in customer quality and lead generation, 500% increase in social media engagement—all within client's budgets.
Warm Thoughts manages over 150 websites and digital campaigns for propane, heating oil, and HVAC-related businesses across the country. Access to proprietary data shows us what works best to create experiences that drive leads and communicate your brand in a way that resonates with customers. Data guides us to create impactful “websites that work” with measurable results. Our services include:
Wilson Oil & Propane has evolved from a small oil delivery company to a mid-size diversified energy and home services company that sells oil and propane, HVAC services, duct sealing and discount fuel (in their separate Lawman’s division). Over the years, Warm Thoughts provided strategic and tactical support in the evolution of both the Wilson and Lawman’s brands, engaging a multifaceted modern marketing approach that utilized digital, traditional and social media, sales and customer service training, and coordinated customer communications. We helped pioneer their Homeshield offering, a bundled approach that has supported better new customer retention. They also extended the brand with creative use of truck wraps highlighting their auto-gas and charitable giving programs.
Highlights: 300% increase in customer base, successful launch of propane and discount fuel division, bundled selling approach which has resulted in substantially higher than norm program enrollments (service plan, budget, auto pay, price cap).
Sail Energy is a new consolidator that so far has acquired five propane and oil companies in New England. Sail faced multiple challenges as it sought to create a consistent brand identity while preserving or transitioning local acquisitions. Working with Sail’s executive team, Warm Thoughts crafted a brand strategy for integrating each acquisition that has facilitated significant retention, introduced new product lines and positioned each for growth.
Warm Thoughts executed a complete overhaul of the company websites, launched SEO, PPC and Facebook initiatives, repositioned service plans for profit, utilized direct mail and ambitious customer communications programs and PR.
Highlight: Exceptional retention of acquired customers, cost-effective leveraging of creative across all locations, 300% increase in social media presence, increase in service plan profitability by over $100,000, TV coverage of “spread the warmth” campaign.
Social media is an inescapable factor in our lives, and businesses who fail to tap its power are missing out on a significant opportunity to build their brand, engage with customers, and generate leads. On-line reviews are increasingly influential in attracting new customers. Warm Thoughts has generated tremendous success for clients by understanding how to attract more followers to them, and, even more important, engage . We manage your social interaction, with creative posts created just for you, and strategy honed by our success with dozens of fuel companies. We manage your reputations 24/7. We can also help you tap into very effective advertising opportunities on Facebook and elsewhere. We’ve increased our clients’ effectiveness by over 700% . We have over 300,000 people liking the pages we manage, including the most successful in the propane and oil industry. And we can make your social media presence a source of pride and strength for your company- whether we are doing all the work, or coaching your team.
It is much harder to manage your social presence in a way that impresses your audience and gets them to interact with you. That’s not something your typical customer service rep, or “salesperson who is always on Facebook,” or even marketing director necessarily understands. . It is easy to post items that make you feel good.
Located in southern California, Hyde’s began as a family-owned appliance repair business. Now in its third-generation, Hyde’s has managed to grow their business year after year and continues to celebrate the opportunity to give back to their community with their annual “Celebration of Giving” program.
By partnering with Warm Thoughts for nearly two decades, Hyde’s has improved profitability through service plans, communicated with customers via newsletters, bill inserts, and door hangers and entered the digital marketing space. As a result, they’ve has grown to become one of the region’s largest and most diversified HVAC companies.
Since forming in 2015, Meritum Energy has expanded and diversified to become a leader in the energy industry. Its entities deliver propane, fuels, oils and lubricants from the Southwestern United States to the East Coast. Meritum has been a WTC client since 2019:
We began working with Warm Thoughts a couple years back when we purchased a group of propane/heating oil companies in the Northeast. As a Texas-based energy company, we had no marketing experience in heating oil and HVAC service, or in the customer demographic of that part of the country. The Warm Thoughts team was able to quickly get us up to speed and help us develop a strategy to market these businesses. After successfully building out a series of websites and social pages, and managing all of our digital campaigns and customer communications, it became clear to us that they were a true asset… so much so that we invited them to take over all of our marketing including our large propane business in Texas, and for all of the acquisitions we are moving forward with throughout the southern region. We consider them to be a true partner and a key to our success.
- Casey Wuan, Vice President, Meritum Energy Holdings
This 70-year-old company has doubled in size in just the past six years, with nearly 1,000 five-star reviews online. A full-service industry leader delivering Bioheat SuperPlus™ fuel out of Wilmington, Massachusetts, Cubby has been a client since 2017.
The difference between Warm Thoughts and my previous web company is like night and day. They are driving phenomenal traffic to our site. They do what they promise, are exceptionally responsive, and completely get my business. – Charlie Uglietto, President, Cubby Oil & Energy
Family-owned for over 60 years, Lakes Gas is among the largest propane providers in the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and parts of South Dakota. Each of their 48 locations operates with a small-town feel. Lakes Gas came on board with Warm Thoughts in June 2020.Visit:
Parker Gas is a second-generation family business with 5 locations in North Carolina, and a cylinder exchange program called “Rapid Exchange.” As the propane market has come under pressure from heat pump and natural gas conversion, Parker looked to Warm Thoughts to amplify its marketing effectiveness.
Warm Thoughts identified key areas that would be important to improving Parker’s competitiveness. We completely overhauled its website and digital promotional strategy, which has led to a dramatic increase in visits and leads. We substantially improved customer communications by sending a newsletter several times a year to build relationship and positioning with customers to cross sell appliances. Warm Thoughts also helped Parker implement a delivery fee, first testing the concept to give them more confidence, and then managing all customer communications. We also developed a new website with a promotional campaign to significantly increase traffic to their Rapid Xchange business.
Highlight: Helped implement a delivery fee that has netted them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For over 15 years, we’ve helped facilitate this family-owned and woman-run business’s offline and online success. Our efforts have used virtually every tool in the traditional and digital marketing toolbox, including organic social media, PPC, Facebook advertising, eblasts, highly targeted direct mail, TV and radio advertising. We’ve built multiple websites and supported their brand’s transition after their HVAC company was acquired.
We’ve worked with Warm Thoughts for years. They handle our customer newsletters and our online marketing. Our newsletters have been a great reminder about what Needham provides, and it keeps the Needham brand on the top of their minds! They are always adding new content and blog posts to my website, keeping it fresh and making sure we stay on the top of the search engines. They really do a great job.
– Erinn Woodcock, President, Complete Heating & Cooling (Needham Oil and TF Complete
The oil and propane industries are under attack in many states by those who want to “electrify everything.” This approach is flawed and counterproductive. Warm Thoughts is helping to lead the fight to keep your fuel in the energy mix going forward.
Warm Thoughts Breakthrough Groups™ offer the opportunity to learn from our industry’s leading strategists and from top fuel companies as well.
Volatile prices, pressure from conversions, changing customer behaviors, aggressive competition, fewer gallons per customer… Our market is changing as never before. We need to find real breakthroughs that will allow us to thrive in a new world. Breakthrough Groups provide an opportunity to cut through the noise and work one on one with your peers to solve your biggest challenges.
We meet three times a year to share ideas, benchmarks and explore new opportunities in a supportive, confidential and industry-focused environment. Unlike other groups, participation is limited to non-competitors so substantive discussion occurs and honest relationships develop.
Tap into the extensive experience of your facilitators, peers and other experts associated with the program and gain the chance to expand your own horizons and gain valuable insights into the issues you’re facing and achieve real breakthroughs.
Warm Thoughts leads the way in developing and executing state association programs that generate strong results for association executives and members. Considered the leading marketing and communications provider for heating oil and propane associations around the country, Warm Thoughts is:
But don’t take our word for it, read what they have to say:
“Warm Thoughts has been a fantastic partner in helping us maximize our NORA funding. They have developed innovative programs that have exceeded our expectations.”
- Eric DeGesero, Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey
“Warm Thoughts hit the ball out of the park for us. They basically reinvented our approach to rebates, and in so doing, invigorated my membership, grew gallons and opened our eyes to a new way to approach marketing.”
- John Jessup, North Carolina Propane Gas Association
For companies that offer products and services to the propane, oil or HVAC industries, Warm Thoughts is a tremendous strategic ally. Twenty-five years of experience in the space gives us a unique window into how these companies make choices about vendors and allies and the best ways to reach the right players. Our creative team works wonders to get your products and services to market with the best possible positioning.
Poore’s Propane and Oil in Delaware is principally a propane marketer, which also delivers oil and equipment service through a subsidiary, Service Energy. For years, Poore’s focused on growth through community propane projects and diversification. It is the largest Blue Rhino supplier in the country, offers tank refurbishing, septic system replacement and more. When Poore’s decided to refocus on residential growth, it replaced its agency with Warm Thoughts who put together a new brand strategy, bringing Service Energy under the Poore’s banner to reduce market confusion. Warm Thoughts diagnosed substantial underperformance in its SEO and PPC programs and developed a new website and social media campaign that substantially outperformed its previous efforts. It provided sales and customer service support. Warm Thoughts also designed Poore’s successful service plan and budget program, and supported its tank refurbishing business.
Originally published in Indoor Comfort MarketingMy father used to say, Sometimes you feel like the windshield, and sometimes you feel like the bug. Right now, our industry is feeling buggy, right? Prices at current levels leave very little margin for error.
I just spent several days facilitating a few of our firm’s Breakthrough Groups. We went through the litany of risks, land mines and early-baldness-inducing challenges. I’m going to give you my take on a few of them in hopes that it may help you avoid some serious land mines, and perhaps even turn some lemons into lemonade.
It doesn’t matter if you put in big bold letters: We can’t change your price no matter what happens from here. We learned in 2008 that when prices drop a dollar or two, many customers will say, You could lower the price if you wanted to. You’re making a killing on me. Go sue me ─ I’m not paying.
Companies are then faced with a Faustian dilemma of either losing a great deal of business permanently, wasting a large amount of time and effort suing them (only to lose them permanently), or meeting them halfway and losing a bunch of money as a thanks. Plus, imagine the beating you would take on social media from these unhappy campers.
Pre-buy offers more protection, although this still carries the potential hangover as customers may be angry after the deal is done. If you are going to offer price protection, a cap is by far a better option, even if it costs customers a bundle. Sometimes doing the right thing means protecting people from themselves and protecting your company in the process.
We know that when people go on budget, they stay with you longer and lose price sensitivity. This year, it will be essential to helping them pay you. Many are simply not calculating how much heating their homes will cost. You are going to have enough trouble covering the lag between paying your suppliers and getting paid. The last thing you want is to become the bank for many of your customers.
The question is: How do you get maximum percentage on budget plans? The answer is: Doing an opt-out promotion. That’s where you tell them you are enrolling them on a budget unless they say No thank you. If you do it the right way, you can add 30%–40% more budget accounts with very little push back. The conversion rate is 5–7 times the response of a normal choose-in promotion.
Although this approach may seem aggressive, we’ve done it for 40+ companies without much of a peep. The trick is how the approach is worded. However, the time to get them started is right now, so get moving. Also, work with your customer service representatives on how to sell the budget plan better. Most go too far into the weeds and miss the key benefit—a budget cuts winter payments in half without costing a cent more.
Every Breakthrough Group discussed how much the cost of parts has increased this year, and how much more they are spending on techs and drivers. Add to that increased credit card charges, bad debt, cost of money, etc., and you have compelling reasons to raise your prices, add delivery fees, etc.
In this regard, many of you are your own worst enemies. You may wait too long to increase, may not increase enough or overstate the likelihood of losing business or rupturing customer relationships. You could be afraid to shock your customers or cross some magic pricing thresholds.
I have the vantage point of seeing how this plays out over a large number of companies. We saw this in the Breakthrough Groups, where some of the participants had been quick to raise their labor rates, service plan costs, etc., with little damage, while others had been more conservative, and lost a great deal of money. In times like these, you can’t afford to be timid.
Our industry mostly misunderstands the role that good, effective communication plays in maintaining customer loyalty during crisis. We think we need to communicate with customers only when we have to—when phones are ringing off the hook, or some event interferes with our ability to make deliveries. Instead, see customer communications as your friend.
The fact that customers understand that all energy is higher doesn’t mean they don’t think you are making more money at their expense—and if you are profiting from their pain, why shouldn’t they ditch you for a lower price? More than ever, they need to hear from you and know you are on their side—and feeling their pain, as well.
Because prices are so high, more people will be looking for new fuel companies this Fall than in past years. Make sure that you take advantage of the full suite of available digital advertising tactics so you win a higher percentage of this opportunity. Make sure your site is fully optimized to attract searches and that you have many positive reviews. You will unavoidably lose business this Fall; be sure to get your share of new business, also.
Your people are going to get beat up more than ever about prices and will be asked their opinion about where prices are going, etc. Our company does a good amount of customer service and sales training, and when we listen to some companies’ sales calls, we often cringe. You have got to drill those answering your phones on the way you want them to answer key questions.
This is not going to be easy. There are ways to mitigate the damage and avoid potential debacles, but it will require you to do some things that may feel uncomfortable at first. Have at it!