Category Archives: Service

Organizational Growth–delight, connect, and exceed expectations

The Intevacon team just returned from iStock_000024846557Largea great week in Las Vegas at the NACS show. It is always rewarding to chat with our customers and hear how they love using our system. There is nothing like hearing compliments and referrals from our customers to keep us motivated and excited to continue growing and serving our customers and prospects. We have a very talented development team who works very hard to make the Intevacon system run smoothly and meet all of our customers’ needs. 

Intevacon was founded in 2010, and in the last 4+ years, we have partnered with petroleum marketers across the country who have grown their fleet business with us and helped make us the best fleet card processor in the industry. A blog came out last week by Seth Godin describing the four stages of organizational growth: struggle, Servant, bully, and utility. Seth says that a business “can move to servant mode, delighting and connecting customers, exceeding expectations and performing what seems like miracles. Or it can take profits as soon as it can. The former leads to scale, the short-term approach usually results in more struggle.”

The Servant stage of business is exactly where Intevacon intends to stay as we grow with our marketers. We have big plans for 2015—plans to network our marketers across the nation, plans to help bring more volume to their sites, and plans to maintain strong relationships between the petroleum marketer and his cardholders.

Our business modIMG_2397el is not necessarily the most conventional to turn a big profit, but we are satisfied with investing in the long-term growth of our business relationships. An article posted by PYMTS.com recently highlighted the fleet card industry stating that players in this field “charge vehicle fleet operators a subscription as well as transaction fees and they also get a piece of the transaction revenue from the gas station partners whenever anyone uses one of their cards to pay for fuel.” Intevacon just doesn’t operate that way, and we never will. We want to achieve our success by ensuring the success of our customers first.

To wrap up this blog post, here is a final quote by Seth Godin on organizational growth, “I’d like to believe that the goal is to figure out how to live a life in the servant stage, to create an organization that doesn’t become a bureaucratic haven or an avarice-focused engine of profit.” Amen.

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.

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.

All Customers, Big and Small, We Love Them All

shutterstock_287472So far the trade show season has been a wonderful opportunity for Intevacon to connect with our current marketers and create new relationships with future partners.  This is a really fun season for us, and we are excited for the opportunity to serve in this industry.  As we travel across the country and interface with so many different businesses in the process, we cannot help but notice that there is a chasm between the companies who are in business to provide a service and the companies who are in business to increase revenues. 

As everyone who flew to the last trade show can attest, the airline industry is a perfect example of an industry that has shifted perspective from focusing on its customers to focusing on its bottom line.  Traveling by plane is no longer just the price of a ticket.  There are now fees tacked onto every element of the experience—from baggage to seat selection.  Delta made a move this week to revamp its reward system starting in January 2015.  The new structure will prioritize “those sitting in the front of the plane, rather than the back-seaters,” as stated in an article published by MSN. 

The most obvious aspect of this mentality is the absence of an honorable purpose.   The agenda is no longer to serve the customer, but rather to take advantage of the customer at any opportunity.  Intevacon endeavors in every exchange to benefit the marketer.  Your success is our success.  We want to be generous in our service, our pricing, our features, and our support.  We are in business to serve you.  Intevacon provides the best product in the industry, so why not also give the ultimate level of support to our customers who use it? 

Delta’s prioritization of its high-dollar front seat customers over the “back-seaters” is an anachronism to the business model that we espouse.  We know that our smallest customers depend on us the most.  The success of their one or two sites means the success of their entire business.  We also understand that our biggest customers need special TLC to get all of their processes aligned with the Intevacon system.  We are equally invested in all of our customers, and we find that this approach fosters relationships that are both personal and gratifying.  (For more, see our blog on “What Makes Customers Happy”.)

Intevacon is built on the principles of Integrity, Value, and Confidence.  Our marketers are generous in their praise and recommendation of Intevacon, and we take pleasure in being generous in the benefits that we can offer to our marketers.     

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

Becoming a Convert

One of the mosshutterstock_1338696t common questions that we hear from new customers relates to the process and timing of conversion to our system.  Because of the intelligent design built into our system, conversion and training are really very simple.  Intevacon has a team of dedicated members to help our customers reach their target Go Live schedules.  We can move as fast as needed to get our customers up and running on the Intevacon system.

As a summary, below are the five basic steps for conversion onto the Intevacon System:

  1. Signed Contract
  2. Data
    • Site list and account information sent to Intevacon
    • Data imported by Intevacon
  3. Testing
    • Gateway device connected at site
    • Transaction test with POS and product codes
  4. Training
    • Intevacon system training
    • Additional system set-up (if required)
  5. Go Live

The process is direct, and Intevacon is available to assist every step of the way.  Our timelines vary from marketer to marketer, with conversion taking less than a week (whew!) to over a month depending on the marketer.  Marketers with many sites will need a technician to visit each site to set up the gateway device (small device that allows the POS to talk to our system) and conduct a swipe test at the POS.  In most cases, card account data can be automatically imported into our system, eliminating the need to manually key any account information.  For customers exporting to an accounting package, we have a transfer file that can be downloaded and sent to your accounting representative for testing.

Once customers are connected to our system, we provide remote training, and we are always available for additional questions about using the system.  We repeatedly hear about how easy it is to use our system, and the online log-in allows customers to have access from any computer to see real-time transactions.  Intevacon’s system was built for our marketers, and we continually innovate and improve to meet the needs of our customers.  Now that you know how easy it is to convert, are you ready to set up your Go Live date?