- Buying Groupsfuel calculatorBuying Groups
We recognise that buying groups have a mixed appeal to customers.
Some like the discounted rates that are often available whilst others are put off by the requirement to pay up-front and/or pay a joining fee, order a specific quantity rather than a fill up, the non-specific or distant delivery dates or the impersonal feel of dealing with ‘any company at all as long as they are cheap’.
Some customers also recognise that ruthlessly driving down prices to the lowest possible rate is not necessarily in the interests of a healthy, competitive market in the long term – always buying from the cheapest can become a race to the bottom whereby price over-rules service, sustainability and common sense and it becomes less easy for smaller companies to exist. That may seem a reasonable sacrifice for a cheap delivery right now but is there any guarantee that the cheap prices on offer will still be around once the few surviving companies have the Buying Group market to themselves…?
Sustainability may be a touchy, feely word that gets bandied about all too often nowadays but in this case we feel it's hugely valid.
Basically, we prefer to stand by a long held principle of quality service at a fair price. Our price may not always be the cheapest (although happily, it sometimes is) but it will always be fair, it will always represent value to our customers and it will always be sensible. With that approach we hope to keep employing people in our local community long into the future.
We also like to look after our customers on a personal level and not leave them waiting a long time for a delivery when they're low on oil, or even empty, and the weather's cold. We saw customers leaving buying groups and coming to us directly during the cold weather in early 2018 (or bringing the whole group with them) and long waits for delivery were one of the reasons cited for this. It struck us that personal relationships/care for the customer as a person had possibly been lost somewhere along the way and we were happy to step in and restore it - after all it's the most important part of customer service.
So, soap box cast aside, whilst we are always open to enquiries from buying groups our policy is that we won’t sacrifice common sense and sustainability of the business, nor customers' interests, to obtain orders at any price – it wouldn’t be fair on our employees and it wouldn’t be fair on our customers who value a high quality, responsive and personal service, even if that might cost fractions of a penny more per litre.
So, if you represent a sensible buying group that looks after your members' warmth as much as their wallets then please contact our office on 01262 673346 or use the form on the contact page to email us. We'd be happy to discuss your requirements.
Buying Groups: The Pros & Cons
PRO - "Cheap prices"
CON - Reduced flexibility? (set delivery day, could be a few days away and that's no good if you're very low). Is it a fair comparison? If there's a joining fee have they factored that into the apparent savings? If you buy 2000 litres at a time are you getting the saving you think you're getting or is it the 500 litre deliveries that make the big savings? Are prices being compared to the last time an order was placed or the price available elsewhere on the exact same day?
PRO - "Reduced tanker journeys"
CON - Do other areas get a reduced service level on that day if we are focusing on one village? Some buying groups ask for certain deliveries (e.g. people low on fuel) to be delivered soonest - this means the supplier might be forced to visit the same village more than once for the same group anyway.
PRO - "Groups source the cheapest supplier"
CON - What if it's so busy (e.g. during snowstorms) or your group is so big that only one company can handle it this time? Would that sole supplier be the cheapest available in the whole marketplace? Or would you have effectively out-sourced your enitire purchasing decision to someone who's hands are tied due to the unwieldy size of the order. Likewise, if one person in a group of 80 needs a small tanker, might the group go with a supplier who is more expensive but can offer the small tanker...? And would this be in your personal interests?
PRO - "Community venture"
CON - Buying groups that genuinely unite a village can be a positive thing, but is it always that romantic or in reality does it often fall upon one person to do all the legwork, all the paperwork and all the co-ordination with little thanks in return?