Customer Success Story: Marshville Propane

Family-owned and operated by the Edwards family, Marshville Propane has the distinction of being the only locally owned, independent propane dealer remaining in Union County, North Carolina. Formed in 2004, the company sells and delivers propane within a four-county area that has both a rural and urban customer base. Sixty percent of sales (in gallons) are to residential customers, 25 percent are to commercial, and 15 percent are to agricultural customers.

Company Profile

Headquarters

Marshville, North Carolina

Year Founded

2004

Services

Residential Propane Delivery

Commercial Propane Delivery

Agricultural Propane Delivery

The Challenge: Disconnected Data And Manual Processes

According to Brent Edwards, Office Manager at Marshville Propane, the company was using off-the-shelf accounting software that wasn’t in any way industry-specific.

“With it, we could keep track of customers’ account balances, but nothing else,” explained Edwards. “The system wasn’t specific to the fuel industry and it was completely separate from our operational records. So we were managing operational functions—like tracking deliveries—through excel spreadsheets that we created and updated manually.”

Also, the company kept service call and maintenance records in handwritten paper files.

With no single place to access customer information, Marshville Propane’s customer service team nearly always had to tell customers who called in with questions that they’d call them back later. To answer even the most basic questions, the reps had to look at the accounting system for billing and payment information and then sort through a series of spreadsheets and paper records to see delivery information, usage amounts, service records, and other important information. Marshville Propane also didn’t have any way (besides calling their cell phones) to track the status of its delivery drivers.

“We were hanging on by a thread. Our office staff was spending a disproportional amount of time on the telephone because there was no easy way to access information when we needed it,” shared Edwards. “When our office was open for business we were busy gathering information and putting out fires. That meant we had to do our data input and other administrative work after hours.”

A Transformational Solution

Marshville Propane began exploring software options for the propane industry in 2015, and the company decided to purchase the Cargas Energy solution in October that year.

“We initially looked at three vendors—Cargas and two other contenders. After we saw the Cargas Energy live demo, the decision to choose Cargas was pretty much a no-brainer,” said Edwards. “One vendor solution had an interface that looked like it was 20 years behind the times. The other had a better interface but its mobile solution was too limiting. Cargas, on the other hand, had a customer interface that was light years ahead of the others and the mobile solution offered more flexibility with its capability to run on Windows devices rather than on proprietary hardware.”

Recently, Cargas Systems announced its Cargas Energy solution now also works with Android mobile devices.

Implementation of the Cargas Energy solution began in January 2016 and the system went live in April 2016. According to Edwards, the change was nothing less than transformational as the company went—within a matter of weeks—from a manually run office to one that is fully automated.

“One vendor solution had an interface that looked like it was 20 years behind the times. The other had a better interface but its mobile solution was too limiting. Cargas, on the other hand, had a customer interface that was light years ahead of the others and the mobile solution offered more flexibility with its capability to run on Windows devices rather than on proprietary hardware.”

– Brent Edwards, Office Manager

Radical Results

With billing and other customer account data available through a central solution, Marshville Propane’s customer service representatives can see all the information they need via one customer summary screen.

The back office and mobile applications within the Cargas Energy software seamlessly work together, so customer information from the field is available in real-time to office staff.

“Before the Cargas Energy solution, we had to hang up and call customers back even if they asked the most basic customer service question,” shared Edwards. “Now, we can find the customer information we need—both past and current—just few mouse clicks away.”

This has saved the administrative staff countless hours and has boosted employees’ confidence and professionalism.

Drivers have also saved time because they no longer have to print out their routes on paper and manually write out delivery tickets.

“Probably the most radical and single biggest change to our operations is being able to track drivers in real-time,” said Edwards about the software’s mobile feature. “Another thing the solution does exceptionally well is enable us to individually track usage and delivery volumes per tank on our agricultural customer accounts.”

According to Edwards, the Cargas Energy solution has been a win all around for Marshville Propane. “By serving customers more quickly and answering their inquiries in a matter of seconds, we now have a more professional front to put forth.”

“Although we are still relatively new to the system and don’t have a long record of performance data, there’s no denying we’ve boosted productivity, improved customer service, and reduced labor hours.”

A Choice They Stand Tall By

As soon as the Cargas Energy implementation began, Edwards immediately knew the company made the right choice.

“Everyone at Cargas was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “They’re extremely good listeners and they understand how to communicate with their audience at the various stages of a project.”

Edwards shared the Cargas team handled training remarkably well and were prepared for possible points of confusion and/or pushback from those not as familiar with using technology tools.

As far as support is concerned, the company has been extremely pleased. Edwards said Cargas has been responsive, correcting issues within—at most—hours.

“For any propane company who is ready for this type of solution, I would definitely recommend they consider Cargas. I can’t imagine using anything else.”

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