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Cold snaps can squeeze heating fuel suppliers: What they need to succeed

We're in the thick of winter – just ask the Midwest, where some areas recently got nine straight days of snow. But freezing temperatures and snow storms aren't unexpected. Every year, heating fuel suppliers and wholesalers with home heat segments in wintry locations prepare for the spike in demand that comes with the most frigid season.

However, despite the best-laid plans for deliveries and service, winter has a way of throwing a wrench into operations. Whatever the situation, residents depend on their home heat suppliers and local wholesalers, who themselves need high-quality software to ensure efficient operations and effective customer service.

Cold snap lights fire under demand

The challenges heating fuel businesses often face came to the forefront earlier this year when the East Coast felt the brunt of winter's wrath. According to the Sun Chronicle, based in Attleboro, Massachusetts, a cold snap in the area affected local home heating suppliers and fuel wholesalers, as well as their customers. A streak of days that barely registered temperatures in the teens quickly depleted family reserves, and sent community businesses into an all-hands-on-deck mode to ensure every customer received service.

"We haven't seen this in a long time," Matt Allen, president of WH Riley & Sons, told The Sun Chronicle. "Our guys are out making deliveries on weekends, even Monday's holiday. Our drivers, technicians, all have been working really hard."

Allen described a frenzy of activity facing the heating fuel supplier, which had to balance emergency deliveries with regular, automated dispatches to long-standing customers. Long lines, price jumps and the need to monitor its own storage tank levels all taxed the company when customers needed heat most.

icicles Cold snaps can wreak havoc on unprepared home heat supply operations.

Fuel suppliers need tools to be agile, responsive

While it seems all is well in Attleboro, the situation demonstrates the pressure-packed conditions in which heating suppliers operate, and the critical role these businesses play in keeping residents warm and safe. At those points, it's crucial suppliers have the capabilities and operational visibility to act quickly. When demand stretches available resources, software can help companies ensure they have adequate supply to meet customer expectations.

Having an automated dispatch tool, as well as real-time GPS data to track deliveries and reassure customers, is invaluable for home heat businesses, especially when wintry conditions impact operations. With the right tools, fuel suppliers can reduce manual processes and overcome any blizzard or cold snap that threatens performance and service.

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