What do customers look for when deciding on a service provider for the transport of large volumes of fuel from A to B?
These are some of the findings of a recent survey of senior managers across multiple industries, which included the energy industry, commissioned by Andre Janse van Vuuren, divisional director marketing at Cargo Carriers.
The following results focus on information gathered from the energy sector.
One of the criteria rated was prospective fuel transporters’ BBBEE and black ownership status. The research suggests that the energy industry sees these as important prerequisites but no longer as differentiators. They require these needs to be satisfied but are now looking beyond them to other factors to differentiate one supplier from another. This finding was mirrored in the broader cross-industry results.
So, what new insights did the research reveal?
Having the technology to eliminate underloading, theft and other losses and having industry-leading SHEQ (Safety Health Environment and Quality) standards came in joint first place in the energy industry's importance ranking of fuel transporter attributes - with a very high score of 6.25 out of 7. This was in contrast to the data gathered across industries which revealed operational excellence and efficiency to be the most important attribute.
Underloading and theft have always been a concern with fuel transport. This is still the case. As the price of fuel rises, so does the value of a payload, with the largest fuel tankers now carrying R0.5m of fuel when full.
Van Vuuren commented: “The technology to mitigate this loss is extremely expensive, so many transporters don’t install it, but amortised over many loads and many litres, it is still likely to be lower than the cost of fraud and theft.”
The energy industry’s joint second most important attributes for suppliers were: operational excellence and efficiency and cost competitiveness.
The former of the two attributes is a catch-all trait which demonstrates that customers place a high value on a professional service – one which effectively allows them to confidently delegate the responsibility of fuel transport.
The high ranking of cost competitiveness (with a score of 6.17) rather than lowest prices (a score of 5.50) is evidence of the energy industry's intuitive understanding of the axiom: you get what you pay for and that a decision made on price alone could be penny-wise and pound foolish. Customers are prepared to pay to reduce risk and to increase service. The favouring of value over price was a sentiment also implied by the cross-industry results.
The research clearly shows that energy industry leaders should not and do not take their choice of fuel transporter lightly.