Tag Archives: business models

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.

 

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.