For the past couple of years, I have been advising fuel industry members that the payments landscape is constantly changing and a solid strategy to address these variables is an absolute necessity.
With fuel product now costing more than ever, I cannot stress enough how imperative it is that you have a good strategy in place, as it could literally tip the scales one way or the other.
Based on the data, it is obvious that fuel retailers need to proactively do everything in their power to take advantage of the “more-friendly” payment options, while steering clear of the cost-prohibitive, less friendly ones.
Just sitting there and taking it will destroy your margin and devalue the business. However, if you choose to be proactive and invest nominal time and energy, the dividends are significant and will compound themselves over time, helping “compress” those fees even more.
You have options, but you must take action today as inaction will silently creep up and blindside you.
Retailers need to make the time to properly address this significant line item as it directly affects your bottom line and touches a huge percentage of companies’ overall sales.
Visa Credit and the majority of Amex transactions are costing roughly FIVE TIMES more than the other more friendly (in terms of fees) payment options. (See Table)
Yes, to be clear both Visa Credit and Amex are eating your profits the way Pacman eats dots.
You can avoid that 1-15 cents per gallon equivalent on most Visa Credit and American Express (Amex) transactions.
• Migrating from Visa Credit to Echeck: saves 13.7 cents per gallon over Visa Credit
• Migrating from Visa Credit to debit card: saves 11.4 cents per gallon over Visa Credit
• Migrating from Amex to Echeck: saves 15.5 cents per gallon over Amex
• Migrating from Amex to debit: saves 13.2 cents per gallon over Amex
That’s significant, especially when you consider that these two-payment methods account for 30—40% of fuel dealers overall electronic payments. ICM
Contact Larry at 617-843-5700 x200 or at [email protected]
Join me at the Northeast Propane Show (August 10 & 11, 2022), (northeastpropaneshow.com) and at the HEAT Show, September 13-15, 2021 (HEATSHOW.com) where I will be talking about this further and the importance of data portability.
On August 23, 2022, please join me for a 30-minute, complimentary webinar session focused on ideas and strategies around shedding pennies per gallon resulting in significant overall card fee reductions. To register, please email [email protected] to reserve your seat.
Having personally spent the greater part of the last 20 years directly communicating with credit card brands on behalf of the Heating Fuels Industry, I am not happy with the recent and unfortunate increase in Visa Credit rates. Not only is this increase detrimental to the industry, it eats into the hard-earned profits that you work for each and every day by providing your customers important essential services, comfort and peace of mind.
Your customers have grown to trust you over the years—the late-night emergency service calls certainly illustrate the type of responsiveness that a customer could only hope for from another service provider.
For greater perspective, just think about the vast differences between the multi-generational Heating Fuels Industry compared to the conglomerate utility companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange. This industry is different; it focuses on individual customers and cares about their immediate needs. This is where “Big Business” drops the ball; their priorities are the investors and shareholders of the company who are forcing the majority of publicly traded companies to look at daily operations and overall priorities differently.
There was a time when good service and pride was a required prerequisite of most companies, both large and small. However, the landscape has drastically changed, compounded by advancements in technology, access to data and greater transparency. It is intimidating enough to compete in today’s world, but throw all of these additional obstacles into the mix and it’s daunting.
From a competitive vantage point, there is no question that “Big Business” can utilize its resources to help tip the scales in its favor and win market share.
This Heating Fuels Industry is made up of thousands of family-run businesses that now, more than ever, need to think creatively to complete in an environment with the odds inherently stacked against them.
When it comes to electronic payments, all four major brands (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) are publicly traded companies that operate around the globe. As mentioned above, they have a lot to prove as they all trade in the public markets, where good news and big profits are constantly on display for stockholders and investors
In April of this year, the payment landscape drastically changed for the worse for Heating Fuels dealers operating in the U.S. After more than 15 years, they are no longer eligible to participate in a reduced Visa Credit interchange category, resulting in a significant increase in fees the likes of which this industry has never seen before. To further compound the issue, in conjunction with the elimination of the discounted program for Fuel Dealers, Visa simultaneously released its largest general rate increase in the last 25+ years, magnifying the processing expenses associated with accepting Visa credit cards. To make it worse, consumer Visa credit cards represent the largest pool of card types in the marketplace.
To illustrate what this really means for the average Fuel Dealer accepting consumer Visa credit cards—it will cost them an additional $3.00 per transaction based on an average transaction size of $400. What cost dealers approximately $6.00 on April 1 today costs them roughly $9.00 for accepting the very same card. It should be noted that $6.00 was almost three times the cost of running a MasterCard or Discover credit card, and that was before the huge increase to $9.00.
It is unfathomable to simply accept this as the new norm. This industry cannot just “take it on the chin” because big business needs to report larger earnings to Wall Street.
The time has come for the heating fuels industry to be innovative and approach these rate increases in a strategic, creative manner. Embrace it as an opportunity to engage with customers, build loyalty and add value that truly differentiates you from your competition.
It is no easy task, but if handled properly, the byproducts of executing a well thought-out plan will yield dividends to your organizations and the entire industry. Let us once again come together and rise above the tsunami of big business. ICM
Larry Richmond, is a Cashflow Automation Specialist and President of Richmond Financial Services (RFS). In 2005, Richmond successfully lobbied MasterCard to reclassify home heating retailers into the lower risk utility processing category resulting in billions of dollars of savings to the industry. Contact Richmond at 617-843-5700 x200 or by email at [email protected]