LETTER FROM RICH GOLDBERG
Rich GoldbergDear Friends,

We enter the heating season in unchartered waters with sharks circling. Between the extraordinary spike in oil prices, troubling supply issues for both propane and oil, difficulty getting drivers and techs, and higher costs for everything, you might be saying to yourself, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

Navigating Uncharted Waters
  1. Overcommunicate with your customers. Everyone’s phones are lighting up, and calls that might have taken five minutes are now taking 15. You can reduce calls, change the tenor of the conversations, and increase retention by emailing/sending newsletters/Facebook-posting more often than normal. Customers need to know that:
    • You are on their side.
    • Even if your options are limited, you feel their pain.
    • You hate when prices spike and volatility is off the charts.

    We’ve seen this work time and time again. If you don’t do it, you are only hurting yourself.

  2. Live to fight another day. You are going to see reductions in gallons because of conservation and ancillary heat sources. Receivables will slow down. People will want to get small deliveries. Borrowing costs are higher. Wages are higher.

    The bottom line is that you have to be a price hawk this year, even if it costs you some customers. You can get more customers by increasing your advertising budget next year. It could take years to recover from some of the potential financial disasters lurking behind the corners this year.

  3. Your people are going to get beaten up by customers. Show them some love and help give them answers to the hard questions they are being asked. It’s tough to hear people’s challenging stories day after day. Give them a bonus, bring a massage therapist into the office to give chair massages, give them extra days off in spring and summer, etc. Work harder to support morale.

You are unsung heroes who kill yourselves to take care of your neighbors but are unfairly blamed for things far outside your control. I’ve been at this for over 30 years and have never been prouder of the people and companies I work for. Hang in there!

Warmly,
Rich Goldberg
Rich Goldberg, President


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