Hamilton’s propane is a family-operated propane service company in Lower Michigan. They service the Central Lower Michigan area and serve individual households, agriculture, and businesses.
In the late 2000’s Hamilton’s Propane was utilizing an existing terminal-based software for managing their inventory and customer accounts. This system had limitations on active users, and the restrictive interface left much to be desired. Given the problem, we at 906 Technologies decided we could bring the software up-to-date and provide a web-based platform that could do the same functions with more reliability and fewer limitations to active users.
On the surface, creating a customer POS system for propane would seem straightforward, but with any industry-specific system there are always additional challenges.
Predictive fuel delivery
One desired feature we had to create from scratch involved reading into customer details and delivery history to come up with a way of ensuring that customers never ran out of fuel. Failure to meet this expectation would be devastating for the customer, as running out of fuel during the winter is unacceptable in Michigan. Additionally, preemptively planning fuel deliveries lets staff work more efficiently, without having to answer phone calls from worried customers.
Since Hamilton’s Propane had been operational prior to our involvement, we were tasked with learning their business and conforming to their existing hardware. In our case, this involved an old dot-matrix printer with very rigid print standards. This required us to put limitations on the automation of their print tasks in order for their documents to come out correctly.
Online access and email notifications
After years with the old printer, the time came for an upgrade. Once they had a new printer, we were able to abandon our strict formatting and move forward. Since we were already reformatting the print layout, we took this as an opportunity to add paperless statements as an option for their customers via email. In addition to issuing their payments, we’ve also interfaced their website with the software for an even better customer experience. Customers are now able to schedule their own fill-ups, pay online, and have those requests fed directly into the system with little interaction from Hamilton’s staff.