Fuel Oil News

Fuel Oil News - January 2017

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25 JANUARY 2017 | FUEL OIL NEWS | www.fueloilnews.com BUSINESS OPERATIONS NEWS BY COLLIN SULLIVAN, NATIONAL ACCOUNTS MANAGER, AVATAS PAYMENT SOLUTIONS As I write this, the days are getting shorter, the temperature is get- ting colder, and if you put any stock in the Farmers' Almanac, we are in for a long, cold winter. That is great news for the industry, but as the national sales manager for Avatas Payment Solutions, it means my phone won't be ringing as much as it does during the rest of the year. And that's because our customers and others in the industry are busy doing exactly what they need to: delivering fuel and making sure people have warm, cozy houses. Now is a good time of the year to focus internally on making sure you get the best rates and lowering your costs. Payments are a huge part of your business, and every penny you save on your processing costs goes directly to your bottom line. Here are a few quick tips that you can implement to help get you through the winter. REVIEW YOUR PROCESSING STATEMENT: Do you see anything that says "Qual," "Mid," or "Non-Qual"? If so, you need to speak with your processor and request a rate review. You qualify for special rates as an energy marketer, but the words above—or any similar phrases—indicate you aren't getting the rates you deserve. If your processor doesn't understand this, call a different processor for a rate review. Avatas can usually set people up within two days with minimal dis- ruption to their business, and the savings will be worth it. REDUCE PROCESSING RATES: Train your customer service team to steer customers towards using MasterCard. It doesn't have to be a complex training—it could be as simple as instructing employees to ask for a MasterCard first when someone calls in to pay their bills. MasterCard rates are, in most cases, lower than Visa, so you save money if your customer chooses to pay with one. You should also reach out to your processor and see what they can do to help. We help our customers with these kinds of efforts and your processor should too. Limit your pre-authorizations. I know pre-authorizations are a good way to ensure you get paid, but they come at a cost. Running a pre-authorization allows for two transactions to run on the customer's card, which might disqualify it from getting the best rates. Instead, run the card u p f r o n t a n d t h e n m a k e a n adjustment after the delivery. This still counts as two actions, but this way the card will still qualify for the best rate. ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE FOR BILL PAYING: Encourage customers to sign up for recurring payments. Recurring payments take the burden off your customer service team. They also minimize the amount of time that you have to "float" the money between when you deliver to a customer and when they pay. Just make sure that your recurring billing tool is safe and secure. Use a reputable vendor who can provide an Attestation of Compliance (AOC) for proof of PCI for whatever tool you are using. Push online payments. If your current processor and soft- ware allow for online payment, encourage your customers to use it. Not only is this convenient for them, but it also means that you don't have to handle calls from customers who want to pay their bill or take and deposit checks. If you currently have online bill pay- ing capabilities, I would encourage you to use a bill stuffer and let your customers know how they can access it. If your software and payment processor don't have the ability to take online payments, reach out and tell them you want this kind of func- tionality. Mobile and online payment tools are going to become increas- ingly important in the future, so if your processor isn't updating their technology, you should think about switching when the spring comes around. Best of luck to all of you this winter. Let's hope it's long and cold! As always, if you have questions, please feel free to reach out. l F O N AVATAS Payment Solutions is a payment processing company for the energy and service industry. Collin Sullivan can be reached at 866.298.7836 or by email at info@avataspayments.com. Get Your Payments Buttoned Up NOW IS A GOOD TIME OF THE YEAR TO FOCUS INTERNALLY ON MAKING SURE YOU GET THE BEST RATES AND LOWERING YOUR COSTS.

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