Category Archives: Fleet Card

The Loyalty of Fleet

carrotThere is no doubt that customer loyalty is at a premium right now. Everywhere you look, there are schemes created to engage with consumers and lock in their loyalty. The petroleum industry is no different—football promos, sweepstakes, gas giveaways, reward cards, special discounts, free showers at truck stops—the list goes on.

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, the average U.S. household has 22 loyalty-program memberships and actively uses 10. As more and more companies establish and/or refine their loyalty programs, it will only become more challenging to capture the attention and loyalty of consumers.

One of the most valuable attributes derived from loyalty programs is the opportunity to form a relationship with the customer. As discussed in a former blog post, Building Relationships and Profiting from Repeat Business, a joint study by Manta and BIA/Kelsey found that 61% of small business owners report that half of their annual revenue comes from repeat customers. The study also notes that repeat customers spend 67% more than a new customer.

The Intevacon fleet card system is designed so that the petroleum marketer maintains a direct relationship with the cardholder. This is contrary to most card programs. In the case of Visa or Mastercard, the issuer is often a bank and there is little incentive for the cardholder to feel any vested interest in the merchant. In most traditional card transactions, the merchant has no connection to the cardholder other than dispensing fuel and providing a clean restroom.

Intevacon offers the opportunity for the petroleum marketer to own the relationship with his/her cardholders, and our hope is that this helps grow business and increase revenue. Fleet business affords a more consistent and higher volume transaction than most transient consumers. The average fleet card transaction processed through our system is about $104. This is about three times higher than the average consumer spends in fuel per week. Capturing the fleet business and fostering relationships with cardholders is a coveted position for petroleum marketers, and Intevacon was created to help facilitate this relationship.

Find out more about the Intevacon Fleet Card System by reaching out at 678-739-4450 or emailing moreinfo@intevacon.com.

Customer Number One

blogIntevacon is in business to equip petroleum marketers with the best proprietary fleet card in the industry. We define our success by our customers’ success, and this means that we stay focused on the Petroleum Marketer. Merchants are  critical to transaction volume, which one would also think makes them a big influencer in the payments cycle. Interestingly, merchants don’t always receive the priority that they merit.

Apple recently announced its much-anticipated iPhone6, complete with the Apple Pay capabilities of near field communication. Already, there is a waiting list for consumers wanting to get their hands on an iPhone 6; however, there are concerns that there may not be adequate merchants to satisfy this new purchasing tool. A NACS article titled “Apple Built It—Will Merchants Come?” notes the potential added expense for merchants to adopt a new payment system. In a Wall Street Journal article published last week, the CEO of Crone Consulting is quoted saying, “Apple has rallied the issuing bank side, but not the merchant side.”

Another article recently posted in PYMNTS.com also cites similar disregard for the role that the merchant plays when it comes to networks. In a discussion about bank-owned networks, the article says, “[…] the networks actually forgot that they had more than one customer group to serve and that was the merchant.” The world of payments is changing, and merchants seem to be doing a lot of the leg work without reaping the benefits or having any influence.

While other entities may neglect the influence and respect due to merchants, Intevacon continues to build its success on the success of our customers. There are several key elements to Intevacon’s business model which point to our commitment to serve Petroleum Marketers. Our system was designed with our marketers in mind, so we provide a system that empowers marketers to create and manage their fleet accounts according to their own business rules. We maintain that Petroleum Marketers are best fit to manage their own fleet card accounts and manage those relationships. After all, it is those relationships that cultivate loyalty and repeat business at merchant sites. We appreciate all of our Petroleum Marketers, and we commit to continue creating opportunities to help them grow in success.

Partnering with Businesses Increases Stability

The Intevacon Fleet Card offers a business solution to comp$ensate for consumer ups and downs. Consumer optimism is a fickle thing these days, with an August 2014 survey reporting that fewer than 39% of consumers are optimistic about the economy.  In July, just a month prior to this report, consumer optimism was at its highest for the year at 46%. Often, gas prices are cited as a barometer for consumer optimism, but that didn’t seem to be the case over the last few months. August saw gas prices on average lower by 15 cents over the past month.

When consumer optimism fluctuates, it tends to also affect the frequency that consumers drive their cars, which in turn affects fuel volume for petroleum marketers. Partnering with businesses that fuel their fleet cars is a strategic way to navigate inconsistent consumer optimism and create a new avenue of revenue that brings repeat business. The Intevacon system provides online user access and powerful reporting tools to better equip fuel managers and create a mutually beneficial relationship between buyer and seller.

Petroleum marketers provide a service to the businesses in which they partner by offering the Intevacon fleet card with all of its controls. Businesses save money when they utilize a fleet card to enforce product restrictions and credit limits. If consumer optimism is flagging, businesses will be grateful to control costs and manage their driver and vehicles expenses. The Intevacon fleet card offers real time authorization and credit limits, as well as special pricing options. Product restrictions can be as specific as a bag of ice or a fountain drink, and specific fuel grades can be restricted at both card locks and retail sites. Other card restrictions can be enforced, such as dollars per transaction, transactions per day,  gallons per day (card lock), dollars per day (retail site), and location restrictions. Drivers can also be prompted for PIN, odometer, vehicle number, etc. This helps keep the card secure, and it better allows the business owner to manage his/her fleet.

A 2010 fleet management article describes a few ways that fuel managers can save money: restrict to particular grades of fuel, limit the number of transactions per day, and restrict from specific non-fuel items that are not required for vehicle maintenance. An article published in 2012 by Convenience Store Decisions reports, “With fuel costs again on the rise, a fleet card network can attract new business while offering fleet managers the safety, security and reporting tools they need to be successful.” Later in the article, it is quoted that fleet cards are a very stable business. This stability is important when consumer optimism shifts with each month. The Intevacon Fleet Card offers a business strategy to capture loyal, repeat business each month.

 

Building the future of relationships with technology

shutterstock_2128837“Something—or rather, someone—has got to give.” This was the message in a recent CSPnet.com article that was published last week referring to the projected decline in gas consumption, which may decrease by 24% from 2014 to 2040. Businesses that grow have always known that “something has to give” in order to be successful. In the case of the convenience store industry, petroleum marketers must re-evaluate their business models to adjust to the prospect of significantly less gas demand. The petroleum industry has seen shifts like this in the past—economic downturns, environmental regulations, and war—as have other industries. One thing that we know is that our petroleum marketers are a tenacious and sharp bunch.  The key is to be flexible and innovative while finding the right solution.

According to CSP, the c-store industry continues to grow in number of sites, increasing 21% over the last decade. With declining gas consumption in mind, the new thinking is that marketers will need to find other ways to improve profitability. Our favorite response to this impending dilemma was stated by Tom Robinson, CEO and president of Rotten Robbie in California: “As volumes decline, the question is: Can they decline less at your stores than competitors’ stores? You can do that by spending money on stores, trying to upgrade programs, trying to upgrade your offering, trying to use technology as a way to build connections or relationships with consumers.”

Intevacon can help with the technology and relationship piece of this debacle. Our technology provides a payment solution that builds connections and relationships with customers, while also protecting margins by reducing swipe fees. In a future where loyalty is a premium, capturing fleet business is a valuable strength.  We’ll continue to develop valuable tools for our petroleum marketers to help them grow and increase profits. This is the rewarding part of our operation—we succeed when our marketers succeed.

To find out more about the Intevacon fleet card or prepaid card, call 678-739-4450 or email moreinfo@intevacon.com. We are excited about the future of the c-store industry, and we look forward to seeing how our marketers succeed.

Making the Case for Fleet and Prepaid Cards

A few weeks ago we compiled five case studies describing the success of our customers and illustrating how the Intevacon system has benefited their businesses in different ways: increasing repeat business, reducing swipe fees, capturing more diverse customers, and gaining back control of customer accounts for future growth.

Below is a featured case study highlighting an issuer using both fleet and prepaid cards.  To view the complete case study series, click here.  We’ve changed the names of the petroleum marketers and left out any identifiable details in each of the case studies.

CASE STUDY: GROWING PREPAID BUSINESS TO MATCH 35% OF FLEET DOLLARS

The Intevacon Prepaid card was made available in the fall of 2013, and adoption of this alternative form of payment has been growing each month. Intevacon has one customer in the southeast who has been using the Intevacon system with a consistent number of fleet users since October of 2011. Clairmont Petro Brothers offered their fleet users the benefits of online account access to the system, but they decided not to offer any special pricing. Profile2

Towards the middle of 2013, Clairmont Petro Brothers started noticing that while they were able to maintain their fleet business, a lot of cash users were going across the street to use a competitor’s prepaid card. The timing was perfect for Clairmont Petro Brothers to start using the Intevacon Prepaid card in concert with the Intevacon fleet card. Both fleet and prepaid card transactions can be accessed and managed through the same Intevacon web portal. With pricing for the Intevacon prepaid card starting at $20 per month, this was an easy decision.

Since October 2013, Clairmont Petro Brothers have focused on growing their prepaid business to the unbanked customers in their community. The convenience of offering a card that can be loaded with cash and then used at the pump or at the register is a big selling point to their customers. The prepaid card is sold for $0.50 and then it can be reloaded as many times as the customer wishes.

In the last month of transactions for Clairmont Petro Brothers, they loaded $52,000 onto prepaid cards and sold $99,048 in fleet transactions. This means that 35% of the transactions processed in the last month through Intevacon were cash payments made by loyal customers.

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There are a number of reasons that fleet programs vary in robustness, but the two most common attributes of our most successful fuel marketers are:

  1. They actively recruit fleet business.
  2. They manage their cash flow with their invoicing so that they can self-fund larger dollar volumes.

Our goal is to help our marketers grow their business and enhance their relationships with their customers.  We’d love to point you to a list of our references if you want to have a conversation with someone whose story is similar to what you read in one of our case studies.

 

Probability Distribution—Going after the long tail

Being the most popular choice with the average customer is a coveted spot. Popular is the low hanging fruit of a sales activity. A recent article was published by Convenience Store and Fuel News which reported that consumers prefer to fill their tanks at grocery stores and wholesalers instead of at traditional convenience stores. This can be formidable news to the average c-store operation, but it doesn’t have to be. Strategic petroleum marketers know that there are opportunities to capture repeat, loyal fleet customers.

There is a statistics term called probability distribution in which a larger share of the population rests within the tail of the power curve. See the plot below for an example. The music industry is a great example where the long tail applies. There are the top ten billboard music artists who comprise the head of the power curve, and then there are the niche artists who comprise the long tail. The niche artists create the same amount of revenue collectively as the one hit wonder billboard artists, though they may have to generate buzz one fan at a time.dpc

So how does this probability distribution translate to the convenience store industry? Think of the head of the curve as the customers who are looking for the best deal and the most convenience. It would be great to capture that customer base of business. But there is equal opportunity in the long tail. Pursue the fleet card customers who want to manage their business fueling activities through the Intevacon system. Every cardholder that you sign up with a fleet account becomes a repeat customer, often with multiple vehicles to fuel. Government accounts, commercial accounts, consumer accounts—these are all opportunities in the long tail with fleet. When high value retailers are winning on price, leverage your local relationships with a comprehensive fleet system.

The fuel landscape is shifting in the convenience store industry, but with the right business model, this shift can be viewed as an opportunity. By cutting swipe fees and introducing a proprietary fleet and prepaid card, you can grow your business and gain a valuable partner in Intevacon.

Changing Business Models: Learning to be Flexible

“One cannot alter a condition with the same mindset that created it in the first place.” -Albert Einstein

In today’s fast-moving society, businesses must adjust their bushutterstock_1561664siness models or face the risk of obsolescence. Western corporations are especially susceptible to relying on the methods that they instituted decades ago with a hope and a prayer that the economy will act in their favor. We still remember the luxury of big budgets, long timelines, and a structured approach to innovation. The 21st century, however, requires more of us. Corporations today succeed when they act fast, remain flexible, and manage frugally.

There is a lot of opportunity in our futures, and we can learn from the mistakes of corporations that have fallen away. Kodak was a pioneer in the film industry, but it failed to compete in the digital world. Barnes and Noble did not alter from their brick and mortar stores, hardly competition for the likes of Amazon. Entire industries have been trying to master the perplexity of marrying changing times with dinosaur innovation and operating methods. Big Pharma continues to increase the cost of R&D while producing fewer drugs. The auto industry required a bailout of the US government in 2008 in the amount of $62 billion, yet even with this second chance, they are still flagging against their foreign competitors. These bureaucratic, slow-moving business models are proving again and again to be unsustainable.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but there is much to be said of a proactive and flexible approach to growth moving forward. The convenience store industry has made great efforts to stay relevant in the retail space. Fresh, healthy foods are a new staple, complemented by every variety and flavor of coffee. Convenience is more of a premium than ever before, and petroleum marketers are meeting this demand with more products, cleaner facilities, and increased services. Social media is even being adopted as a way to stay connected to customers.

One area of change that directly affects petroleum marketers is that of the payment space. PCI, EMV, Chip and Card—the requirements keep changing and the fees and costs keep increasing. With credit card fees being the second highest expense to a petroleum marketer, Intevacon can offer a new approach to the payments game. There are several advantages in using Intevacon for your card processing. Our low rates are a good start when it comes to protecting your margins. Plus, our system keeps you in control and helps you manage your relationships to your cardholders. By offering your own proprietary card, you can increase the loyalty of repeat customers.

Intevacon continues to innovate and improve our business model. When we were founded, we made the decision to leave all of the legacy systems of fleet cards in the past. Intevacon is completely web-based, and we process card transactions in real time. The system is continually being improved as our R&D department functions in collaboration with our customers. In 2013, we introduced the Intevacon Prepaid Card to meet the emerging needs of our customer’s cardholders. Currently, we are developing the Intevacon Fuel Network to help link petroleum marketers across the nation and equip them to make their own business decisions.

In a world where technology changes so rapidly and information is abundant, it can be difficult to know which direction to dedicate resources. There is a Hindi word, jugaad, which translates ‘an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness.’While the U.S. is blessed with an advanced society, there is merit in evaluating the flexible practices being espoused by emerging markets that are forced to innovate out of necessity. Sometimes the best solutions are those that challenge our business models to shed the institutional constraints to which we have become accustomed. A flexible system with margin is much more likely to thrive in times of change.

 

1. Radjou, Navi, et al. Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.

Challenging Tradition: Alternative Payment Solutions

For as long as consumers have shopped, merchants have provided payment solutions. Whether it was through a barter system when money got tight or during the advent of the credit card, both buyers and sellers have gravitated to the most economical and efficient payment methods at hand. That is why this season of payment solutions is so fascinating. The trends are definitely shifting, and consumers are choosing with their wallets, literally in this case. Merchants are also seeCaptureking solutions that protect their bottom lines.

Intevacon offers a unique payment solution focused exclusively on the oil marketer—we created this system for the marketer, and our business model is built for his/her benefit. As a card processor, Intevacon provides all levels of card processing data—transaction details, quantities, taxes, product codes, etc.—without having to involve the middlemen.

Think of the traditional credit card processor. When you think of this credit card processor, you also have to think of all of the other players involved—the banks (both the cardholder and the merchant bank), the issuer of the card, the acquirer, etc. Credit card fees continue to increase as each player takes a piece of the pie. With margins for fuel counted in pennies, this cut is noticeable to a marketer. Not only does the marketer sacrifice his/her margin to processing fees, but he/she also loses the relationship to the cardholder.

We have seen traditional banks fall out of vogue more and more in time. An article in CSP News titled “Blowing Up the Bank” starts with the line “The banking system today is going to be totally blown up in the next 10 years.”1 Alternative banking and payment solutions are the way of the future. Another article corroborating this claim quotes the research firm, Packaged Facts, saying that approximately 40% of adults 18 years or older are unbanked.2 With this trend, we will continue seeing a shift away from traditional banking to “non-bank” funding accounts and reloadable prepaid cards.

Several non-traditional players have emerged, amongst them: Google, Paypal, and Amazon. We are excited for this new landscape of payment solutions, as it challenges the status quo and gives both consumers and merchants new options. When considering how you will choose to conduct business, consider your partners carefully. An article recently published in Forbes about the future of mobile payments stated, “Whoever ends up with controlling interests in this new digital ecosystem will reap billions in transaction fees, collect massive amounts of consumer data […].”3

Intevacon’s focus is to provide card processing services to our marketers so that you will be able to grow and protect your margins. Your success is our success. With Intevacon, you will always be in the center of your relationship with your customer. We are transparent and generous with our pricing model, and we offer the best customer service in the industry. Give us a call if you want to learn more about adopting a proprietary fleet card program through Intevacon. Now is the time to take back control of the transactions you are working so hard to achieve.

Contact us at 678-739-4450 or moreinfo@intevacon.com to get more information. http://www.Intevacon.com

 

  1. “Blowing Up the Bank.” CSP. April 2014. Web. April 2014. http://www.cspnet.com/industry-news-analysis/technology/articles/blowing-bank
  2. “General Merchandise: Prepaid & Financial Services 2014.” CSP. April 2014. Web. April 2014. http://www.cspnet.com/print/csp-magazine/article/general-merchandise-prepaid-financial-services-2014?page=0%2C0&utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20News%2004-28-2014%20%281%29&utm_content=&spMailingID=45724913&spUserID=MjU0MDQ1OTk0MjkS1&spJobID=423296958&spReportId=NDIzMjk2OTU4S0
  3. “Can PayPal Beat Apple, Google, Amazon And Icahn In The Wallet Wars?” Forbes. March 2014. Web. March 2014.http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2014/02/12/can-paypal-beat-apple-google-amazon-and-icahn-in-the-wallet-wars/

Building Relationships and Profiting from Repeat Business

Intevacon is all about relationships —we value the relationships that we form with our marketers, and we do everything that we can to facilitate relationships between you and your customers. The Intevacon model puts the marketer directly in the center of the card processing relationship, and this is by design. It turns out that this is also a profirepeattable approach.

A joint study by Manta and BIA/Kelsey found that 61% of small business owners report that half of their annual revenue comes from repeat customers. It also notes that repeat customers spend 67% more than a new customer. Watching this trend, small business owners are starting to invest more resources into developing relationships with their existing customer base.

Are you growing a base of repeat customers? An article by MediaPost notes that many small business owners do not utilize technology to their advantage when it comes to building loyalty and repeat business.

We know that c-stores account for 34.3% of all retail outlets as of December 2013, according to NACS. A recent NPD study found that the average consumer visits a c-store six times in a 30-day period, but that number has decreased by 1.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013. An article in Convenience Store Decisions quotes an NPD convenience store industry analyst saying, “It will remain a challenging and competitive environment in 2014 and retailers will continue to fight for dollars. C-stores can hold on to their base with the right product mix, selection, and quality, all of which are growing reasons why consumers choose the stores they do.”

The Intevacon fleet card and prepaid card are valuable tools to help you maintain repeat visits from your customers, both with consumer and commercial accounts. The proprietary fleet card and prepaid card can be accepted at all of your sites and allows your customers to receive level 3 card processing data. To help manage your accounts, you can give your cardholders access to the system to see their own data and run reports. The Intevacon system is intuitively designed and it gives you all of the controls that your customers want to manage their fleet accounts. With the time saved by using our system, you will have time to turn more new customer business into repeat customer business. Protect your margins by saving yourself from swipe fees, and increase repeat business by providing a fleet or prepaid card.

Margins for Growth with Intevacon

iStock_000009737415SmallIntevacon continues to grow each month in the number of customers who use our system and enjoy the benefits of a proprietary fleet card and prepaid card.  It looks like the industry in general is growing as well.  A Nielson study was published recently stating that the U.S. convenience store count increased by 1.4% in 2013, adding 2,062 stores.1,2  Probably even more striking, the convenience store industry has doubled in size over the last three decades. 1,2    This is not totally surprising considering that consumers increasingly view convenience stores as more than just an opportunity to purchase fuel.  Convenience stores satisfy the demands of on-the-go consumers with their ever-expanding product lines, from fresh foods to a myriad of beverages.  In total, convenience stores comprise 34.3% of all retail outlets according to Neilson. 1,2    Of these convenience stores, 62.8% of them are managed by single-store operators. 1,2

More good news for the convenience store industry—a study from Sageworks indicates that 2013 was a strong year for fuel profits at privately held gas stations, with net profits rising almost 3% on average.3  While this is a great trend, the study also noted that privately held gas station owners experienced very little profit from each gallon of gas because the margins tend to be so thin after factoring in the original wholesale cost, taxes, and swipe fees. 3   As a contrast, convenience store retailers have a lower net profit margin on average than most retailers, with the average privately held company across all industries averaging more than 8% net profit margin. 3   This low net profit margin experienced by marketers is yet another reason why Intevacon is excited to be growing.  We are able to offer an innovative and dependable system to our marketers without the high transaction fees that are typically associated with standard credit cards.  We succeed when our marketers succeed, and that is why we have created a pricing structure that allows for higher margins and keeps the marketer in control of his/her customers.

The convenience store industry comprises an invaluable place in our society.  Intevacon is proud to offer alternative payment solutions to our marketers, both in the form of fleet cards and prepaid cards.  We enjoy growing relationships throughout the industry, and we aim to support our customers through all of their successes with a system that is both flexible and innovative to their needs.

  1. “Convenience Store Count Tops 149,000.”  NACS. January 2014. Web. January 2014. http://www.nacsonline.com/News/Daily/Pages/ND0123132.aspx#.Uuqzt_uYV6s
  2. “Convenience Store Industry Adds More Than 2,000 Stores.” CSP.net. January 2014. Web. January 2014. http://www.cspnet.com/industry-news-analysis/corporate-news/articles/convenience-store-industry-adds-more-2000-stores
  3. “Fewer Expenses, Bigger Margins in 2013.” CSP.net. January 2014. Web. January 2014. http://www.cspnet.com/fuels-news-prices-analysis/fuels-analysis/articles/fewer-expenses-bigger-margins-2013

Contact us at 678-739-4450 or moreinfo@intevacon.com to get more information.  http://www.Intevacon.com