We played paparazzi and followed our driver, Steve Crozier, around one winter afternoon to give our customers an idea of what goes into their propane deliveries. Continue reading below to put yourself in his boots and see what it takes to deliver propane.
Every properly licensed driver we have on the road must go through extensive training before he is able to deliver propane to any of our customers. New drivers ride around with current drivers to learn the ropes. We think this is crucial to do, even if someone has been driving propane trucks and/or delivering fuel for years. Plus, it helps us all get to know each other better, which definitely helps during those rough winter days when we all need to work together to make sure every customer has been attended to. (Fun Fact: We even have our office staff go out on delivery runs as part of their training, so they can get an idea of what it takes to deliver the fuel.)
Being an early riser is a must for our propane drivers, because their days start before the sun comes up. They meet at the office, get their routes from our Dispatcher, and head out to start their deliveries before most of our office staff are in for the day.
Each driver is equipped with a GPS system that helps them get exactly where they need to go. Every customer’s address is programmed into our system. When a delivery is scheduled, the driver will be directed to the exact spot needed for that delivery. This is a HUGE help for us. We often joke that we don’t even want to remember what it was like in the days were we worked with all handwritten schedules and traveled based on memory and maps.
How do drivers know the exact tank location you might ask? This information is all at the tip of their finger point, thanks to their ThinkPads. Each driver has his own tablet (aka ThinkPad) with information that is constantly being updated from our office. This means that our Dispatcher can rearrange schedules with the click of a button and our Customer Services representatives can add or changes notes to delivery tickets if the customer calls. Our entire company stays connected through these tablets, so we hold onto them tighter than toddlers try to hold onto their parents iPads. We keep the information up-to-date and constantly refer back to the original sign on information collected by the sales representative when that customer signed on. So, now you understand why we asked so many questions about the tank size, location, gate locks, etc. when you first became a customer.
Now, the GPS and all of our technology does everything that it can to get us to where we need to go, but sometimes there is one thing in our way… something we can’t control (but we wish that we could)… Mother Nature. If it snows and the roads aren’t plowed, it is going to make it difficult for us to get out to your home and business, but rest assured that we will do everything in our power to get you fuel as quickly as possible. If it snowed, but wasn’t blizzard-material, and the roads are clear and safe, we will be on them. Just because the streets are clear though, doesn’t mean that everything is peachy-keen. Some underground tanks “disappear” under the blanket of white snow in your yard. When this happens, it is much appreciated when customers mark their tanks. And if you have a tank that is above-ground and you want to shovel a path to said tank, we can guarantee that our driver will consider you a favorite customer. 🙂
Back to the technology in our trucks — we seriously still can’t get over it. It knows exactly how much to fill up (based on the information received from the dispatcher) each tank and stops the truck once the exact number of gallons have been delivered. It takes all of the customer’s information into consideration. Meaning, that if you tell us that you have a 500 gallon tank but it is actually a 1000 gal tank and ask us to fill it up, our truck is going to stop when 400 gallons (80% rule…see more about this below) have been delivered. This might leave you scratching your head, wondering why the tank wasn’t filled all of the way. If this ever happens, we can certainly fill the larger tank up more, but the driver will need to work with the office staff to update that account to show that the tank is actually a 1000 gallon tank, instead of a 500 gallon tank. Then, the truck will allow us to deliver over 400 gallons to that tank.
The 80% Rule brings up more questions than anything else. A customer asks for us to fill up their tank, we go out and fill it, that customer checks their gauge and see that it is filled to 80% and call in to ask why we didn’t fill it up all of the way… It happens all the time and we get it. Why would they only fill it up to 80% if I wanted it filled? Propane tanks can only be filled up to 80%, to leave room for growth/expansion of the gas during temperature changes. The 80% rule is for safet and in our business, it’s important to put safety first. This is an industry standard and one that we follow with every customer. So, when you see your tank at 80%, know that that is full.
Once the fill is complete, the driver closes the valve and gets ready to head to his next location. The trek back (and technically the trek there) from the tank is the most intense manual labor needed from the driver. He has to drag the hose and reel it back onto the truck. This sounds easy, but it’s not light. It takes some strength to be a propane driver.
After making sure that everything is set and locked properly on the truck, the driver hops into the driver’s seat and heads to the next location. Our guys are out and about all day in all different kinds of weather making sure our customers homes and businesses have enough fuel. They don’t go home until every customer has been taken care of and their dedication does not go unnoticed.
A big thanks to all of our GVP Propane Drivers!