Comparing Commercial LPG Gas Suppliers
If you are a commercial user of LPG and looking to compare alternative suppliers, there are a number of things to consider when you evaluate commercial LPG gas suppliers.
If you were to ask current commercial LPG users what was important to them from an LPG supplier, I believe the most common answers would be reliable supply, local support and safety.
Here are some of the things that go into providing these important supplier qualities:
Delivery Capacity for Reliable Supply
It’s pretty basic logic that the more delivery vehicles and drivers in the supplier's fleet, the more reliable the service.
The trucks also need to be large enough to make the required volume of deliveries, not just little utes.
This is especially true during the peak winter season.
It’s hard to be everywhere every day, but it’s even harder if you don’t have enough delivery trucks and capacity.
Your business depends on it!
Choice of Delivery Options that are Best for You
Smaller LPG suppliers may only offer cylinder exchange service.
However, you should look for an LPG supplier that also offers on-site filling from LPG tankers.
Bulk tanker refills have a number of advantages for you, as the user, especially if the supplier offers automatic bulk LPG delivery.
Gas Cylinder & Tanks Sizes that Suit Your Needs
Many LPG suppliers can only offer 45kg gas bottles because they don’t have the tankers required to fill larger sized cylinders, like 90kg and 210kg and larger.
If you are a heavy user of bulk LPG, this could force you to spend extra money on your installation, with an elaborate manifold system for multiple 45kg bottles.
LPG User Support and Engagement
You need to be able to communicate with and get information from your LPG supplier.
Look for a comprehensive web site, with answers to more than just the simple questions.
They should supply LPG "How To” advice for all aspects of your LPG use, from gas bottle operating instructions to advice on gas appliances, as well as information on technical issues.
Reviews of LPG Suppliers by Others
Almost all companies claim to be the “market leaders”.
The best way to find out how well a company really performs is to ask their customers for a review.
As with most products and services, LPG gas suppliers receive consumer reviews.
Google search is the place that most choose to post their reviews.
In addition to the star rating number irself, you should also look for companies that have lots of reviews.
A large number of reviews indicates more engaged customers and makes the score more reliable, as it would be difficult to post a large numbers of fake reviews.
The number of reviews is the number just to the right of the stars (see examples below):
The other thing to watch out for are suppliers with no listing at all.
They are either not really located in your area or they have chosen to avoid being reviewed by not having a listing (listings are free from Google).
Help for New Users of Commercial LPG
The supplier should provide detailed safety training, "How-to" instructions and answers to frequently asked questions specifically tailored for new LPG users.
They should also have technical experts that can provide more detailed answers.
24/7 Live Contact with Your Supplier
You should be able to contact the supplier 24/7 for all of your needs.
We are talking real live people at the other end of the phone line and not answering machines.
For obvious reasons it is advantageous to deal with a supplier that has a local depot in your area.
They have all of the large supplier advantages combined with friendly local service and knowledge.
As with all modern product and service suppliers, you should expect to have full online access and interaction with your LPG supplier.
You should be able to order online and receive a real-time confirmation number, not just an automated email.
Online credit card payments should be through a secure server and you should be able to access all of your account details whenever you need them.
Natural Disaster Response
One of the advantages of a large national supplier is in the event of natural disasters, like floods or bushfires.
The larger companies have resources, from other areas, which they can mobilise and bring to the affected areas.
This is particularly important if the LPG depot itself is affected by the disaster, as recently happened during the flood in Bundaberg.
Small local suppliers simply don’t have that kind of backup capability.
I even know of a large Australian LPG supplier that organised a helicopter delivery of LPG to a small town cut off by a landslide.
No points for guessing who that was!
Upstream LPG Supply & Reliability
Reliability is paramount. If your supplier runs out of gas, you run out of gas and could be out of business!
Your LPG supplier should have more than just local storage capacity.
They should have upstream supply, storage and transport facilities to provide Surety of Supply.
This is important if there is a supply interruption, as happened in SA a few years ago.
One national LPG supplier mobilised a fleet of tankers and kept their SA customers supplied from their major storage facility in Victoria.
No points for guessing this one either!
Competitive Commercial LPG Pricing
Price is important but the fact is that there usually isn’t much difference between suppliers.
This benchmark varies on a monthly basis and is the primary determining factor in how much the LPG suppliers pays for the LPG they supply to you.
Pricing can vary a bit based on a number of factors including the cost of supply, haulage and delivery to different areas.
Uncompromising Safety & Training
You are responsible for providing a safe workplace for your employees, including LPG safety training.
Your LPG supplier should be able to assist with this.
Once again, the larger suppliers have an advantage over smaller suppliers in LPG safety.
Large LPG suppliers can justify full time safety staff like National Safety Managers, National Training Managers and Technical Compliance Managers, to make sure that safety is the priority.
There is only one LPG company in Australia that ticks all of these boxes.
I think you've probably already figured out which LPG supplier that is.
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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.