Nearly two decades into the 21st century, and the world’s ever-evolving business landscape shows no signs of plateauing. Guess what? Your business is changing with it. Higher customer expectations, advancements in technology, and new government regulations are all challenging the way you see the world and run your business. In today’s petroleum marketing environment of stiff competition and razor thin margins, data is the key to maximizing your profits, improving the productivity of your workforce and increasing the efficiency of your operation.

If you’re an avid consumer of business or technology media, you’d be hard pressed to go any reasonable length of time without running into an article, TED Talk, blog or other piece of content produced by someone likely smarter than me about data. Data is a big deal in general, but particularly for petroleum marketers. Your business thrives on it. Every day, your operation is producing fields of data waiting to be tapped, so if you’re ready to assemble the proverbial rig, here are a few data rich areas you should be paying attention to.

Maximizing Monitoring

There are three types of data you should watch to keep your operation running smoothly and your customer reputation intact. Monitoring your tank levels is an easy way to prevent runouts. Beyond keeping you informed of tank inventory levels, many of today’s automated tank gauges are much more sophisticated, helping you detect leaks and validate the quality of the product being stored.

Another way petroleum marketers can maximize their software’s monitoring capabilities is by studying meter data to identify trends. For example, are sales up or down at a particular site in recent days? If they’re up, you may need to get a load out sooner than expected. You can also look at year-over-year trends. Perhaps things look normal on Tuesday compared to last week, but if your year-over-year trend analysis indicates a historically high fuel sales week, you should probably prepare for that.

Lastly, petroleum marketers should monitor turn times when looking to prevent runouts. Practical considerations such as traffic patterns, average driver times, terminal congestion, and the amount of time it takes to get a truck to the site should always be on your radar.

Use Your Crystal Ball

Okay, it’s not exactly magic, but using software to help compile a data-based forecast can definitely help you predict the future, ensuring you don’t run out of product or tie up valuable capital in excess inventory. So, what exactly does forecasting entail? Combining your knowledge of the upper and lower limit of your tanks with historical seasonal, holiday or special event (e.g. concerts) data will allow you to more accurately determine when a site will need fuel. Doing so will empower you to fulfill customer expectations and remain profitable during times of wildly fluctuating demand.

Fueling Your Enterprise

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, nearly 80 percent of convenience stores sell fuel. To put it plainly, fuel is a huge deal for convenience retailers. Fuel runouts not only prevent sales at the pump, but they also have a ripple effect, causing missed sales opportunities inside the store. Good supply maintenance is critical to preserving your customer reputation and maximizing margins. To prevent getting stuck with a low tank and no allocation, know where your fuel is coming from, and track and review allocations and contracts with your suppliers.

Data is King

Data can tell you so much about your business, your customers, and how to gain a competitive edge. As a fuel supplier, empowering your enterprise with a software solution that optimizes inventory and improves the connectedness of your supply chain is perhaps the most essential ingredient to ensuring your customers are happy and profits are up.