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)
As our PRO$ program coordinator, Silvia Revisore manages and markets the day-to-day operations of PRO$, which helps realtors understand and sell oil-heated home listings. This includes coordinating multiple CE classes a day and developing eblasts, which Silvia handles with the cleared-inbox finesse of organizational guru Marie Kondo.
Before joining Warm Thoughts, Silvia worked in sales for a major beauty company, ran her own small business and obtained her degree in Business Administration with a focus on marketing. Outside of work, Silvia attends online classes, enjoys crafting and keeps up to date on all things football. She’s working on achieving her goal of visiting every NFL stadium in the country!
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.
CMC is a leading provider of management and services for industry-leading utilities, and one of the few certified Women’s Business Enterprises serving the energy-efficiency industry. Warm Thoughts has provided strategic account management for CMC as it has dramatically increased its footprint and revenues.
Print projects include designing RFP templates, infographics, logos, style guides, sell sheets, cards, brochures, invitations, truck graphics, trade show displays and direct mail. Digital projects include website design, development and maintenance, SEO, reputation management, eblasts and other promotions.
Highlights: Redesign of the CMC Energy corporate website, a re-branding project for the CMC Energy Connecticut site, several projects for CMC’s 40th anniversary (2017) and the acquisition of Clean Markets (2018).
Warm Thoughts has supported Ehrhart's evolution, transitioning the brand to Ehrhart Energy, orchestrating its marketing plan and introducing their tag line,
It's not just business. It's personal. Warm Thoughts dramatically improved the company's digital performance with a new website, effective SEO and pay-per-click campaigns, and expanded social media. We’ve also integrated radio, direct-mail campaigns, newsletters, surveys and eblasts to engage customers across multiple channels and have instituted better tracking to make smarter marketing budget decisions.
Highlights: Successful implementation of a delivery charge that added hundreds of thousands of dollars to its bottom line. Plus 200% increase in website traffic, surge in monthly payment programs, re-balancing of promotional budget more aligned with goals, and reduction of customer losses.
Carroll Home Services has been a success story in a dwindling heating oil marketing in Maryland. And Warm Thoughts has been part of that story for over 10 years.
Warm Thoughts orchestrated sales and marketing plans that resulted in tens of thousands of new customers for Carroll, increased retention, and supported its diversification into HVAC services, plumbing, and propane. We re-branded its Alliance discount division, and supported its significant growth.
Over the years, our efforts have used virtually every tool in the traditional & digital marketing toolbox, including organic social media, PPC, Facebook advertising, eblasts, highly targeted direct mail, billboards and radio advertising. We've conducted market research, trained sales and customer service personnel, and supported the brand transition to CHS when the company was acquired by the Star Group several years ago.
Highlights: successful diversification of business, acquisition of tens of thousands of new customers while driving cost per lead down by 25%, market research that changed approach to HVAC sales.
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.
With 16 locations throughout Louisiana, O’Nealgas needed an agency to pull all their marketing under one roof. With deep experience in the propane industry and an understanding of their customers, Warm Thoughts was the right choice.
O’Nealgas began the process with updating their website from something that looked nice and everybody liked, to a fully optimized marketing tool that would generate business. Our objectives were to help the company grow by acquiring new customers and selling more to their existing customer base. A combination of direct mail, newsletters, digital advertising and social media was deployed to help O’Nealgas achieve their goals, all with a budget that made sense to their corporate structure. Heavily focused on ROI, our efforts have been achieving real results for the past two years.
Energy United is an electric cooperative and the second largest electric utility in North Carolina, serving more than 120,000 homes and businesses. It also owns Energy United Propane, which has multiple locations in both North and South Carolina.
Warm Thoughts was first engaged by the propane division to significantly improve its customer communications and digital marketing. We created a new website, developed a customer newsletter and managed customer communications when it was time to merge one of its acquisitions into the Energy United brand. It also executed an aggressive “Opt-Out” budget plan promotion, which resulted in a 300% increase in plan enrollments virtually overnight!
Based on the success of its efforts, the parent company also engaged Warm to lead a brand review and create a new website for the electric cooperative.
Highlights: Overnight transformation of customer quality, seamless transformation of acquisition with few customer losses, integrated electric and propane digital presence under the single brand umbrella.
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.
Posted on December 17, 2020
No one could have predicted a year like 2020. For the fuel industry, the pandemic and stay-at-home orders accelerated the long-term prediction that the industry would increasingly need to rely on digital marketing.
At Warm Thoughts, we saw an overall increase in digital engagement among the 130+ fuel company websites we manage. In 2020, clickthrough rates on pay-per-click advertisements increased by 5%, Facebook’s total reach increased by 101% with total engagement increasing by 35% and during the first three months of the pandemic, website traffic increased by over 13%. . The numbers are encouraging and echoed the larger global trend—people are home and while they’re home, they’re spending more time online. It’s a trend that’s likely to stick around in 2021 and beyond, as we navigate this new normal.
Here’s a look at what to focus on as you plan your digital strategy for 2021:
1. Embrace the digital transformation—starting with your website.
Whether you’re building a fresh website or updating an already existing site, ensuring you have a site that’s working for you should be your top priority.
Build a custom website—no templates! Template-based websites may be cheaper to build but custom websites perform better on search engine rankings, allow for greater customization with branding and can grow with you as your business grows. In addition to how the website is built, it has to look good and evoke a feeling that’s consistent with your brand.
These days, your website IS your brand. To successfully communicate your message, your website must go beyond the products you offer to deliver your unique selling proposition. When a consumer lands on your homepage, they need to immediately understand why your business is the right choice for their family’s comfort and safety.
If you want to know how your website is performing, taking a look at your analytics is a good place to start. If that’s not something you’ve been monitoring, 2021 is time to make that change.
2. Drive traffic with SEO.
This is part of your website strategy but it’s more complicated than that. Your website needs to tell this story in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing but it also conveys the correct message to search engines, so you rank on results pages.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is key to your business’s success. You can have the best website, the best pricing and the best staff, but if a customer can’t find you in their service area, none of that matters. SEO is the way to ensure you’re found.
An SEO strategy involves developing educational content that informs customers while also driving traffic to your website. Once you have a content SEO strategy, then you add in all the back-end coding to help search engines understand the content. Of course, all of this is constantly evolving with algorithm updates and the evolution of technology.
SEO is the key to bringing organic traffic to your site. It’s the way to guarantee that when a homeowner in your service area types “boiler repair near me,” your business shows up on their first page of results. Without SEO, you’re likely missing out on those types of searches and the resulting business. What’s worse is that you wouldn’t know it unless you conducted an audit or had an SEO expert on staff.
3. Remember that social media is still king and the features are expanding.
In March 2020, Facebook reported an increase of more than 50% in user activity across its products. With that trend in place, Warm Thoughts Communications optimized its clients’ Facebook pages to drive even more engagement, resulting in a 101% increase in total reach throughout 2020. If you’re not active on social media, you’re missing out on this opportunity.
It’s not enough to simply HAVE a Facebook page. You need to actively post engaging content three to four times a week in order to satisfy Facebook’s current algorithm. This involves a variety of content, meaning promotional posts but also fun engaging posts that encourage users to like, comment and share—or better yet—review you! In addition, Facebook ramped up the features available on their platforms throughout 2020. Keep an eye on these and apply the features that work best for your business in order to drive growth and engagement.
Furthermore, social media is another important medium for communicating with your customers. Whether it’s a last-minute service change or holiday office hours, social media is a fantastic way to keep customers informed.
4. Customer communication is essential.
For many businesses, one of the greatest lessons of 2020 was realizing the importance of customer communication. With the outbreak of COVID-19, fuel companies needed a way to quickly communicate health policies, appointment changes and more. Unless a business was already equipped with a comprehensive list of customer emails and cell numbers, they were left struggling to communicate efficiently and effectively with their customers.
Creating a customer communication strategy is no easy task. Here’s a look at just a few of the basics:
As you head into 2021, having a digital customer communication strategy will allow you to quickly adapt when those last-minute changes come up. Research has shown that a robust strategy on this front will also improve customer retention.
5. Focus on building your online reputation.
The business impact of customer reviews is undeniable. If your website doesn’t feature customer reviews and your Google listing doesn’t feature great reviews, you could be losing potential business. In fact, studies indicate that 97% of customers say reviews factor into their buying decisions.
It’s important to have a strategy for managing your online reputation, as online reviews are trusted just as much as referrals from friends. This is a complex process as it involves your ability to both solicit and aggregate reviews and, ultimately, show them off. When you do this well your ability to grow your business will greatly increase. When you ignore it, you could be driving potential customers away.
The Big Picture
At Warm Thoughts, we’re optimistic that focusing on a robust digital strategy will be the key to growing your business. Use this list is a starting point—your doorway into a robust digital marketing strategy for the new year.
Digital marketing is constantly evolving. As a fuel company, you might be comfortable with the notion that your business is essential, but essential isn’t enough to grow. Growth comes from staying ahead of the curve, adapting, competing. As we head into 2021, there’s no better time to push forward with a well-executed digital marketing strategy.