Thinking about opening a propane and natural gas business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
The Propane & Natural Gas Industry
Propane and natural gas businesses are important links in the nation's energy distribution chain. Many homes and commercial properties rely on natural gas and propane deliveries for their heating and cooling needs, not to mention periodic maintenance of their heating and cooling systems.
The demand for propane and natural gas is steady. If your startup is successful, you can expect to service the same energy customers for years. But a loyal customer base can also lull you into complacency -- and that's a mistake because today's energy consumers are cost-conscious buyers with more energy options than ever before.
How to Launch a Competitive Propane & Natural Gas Business
The National Propane Gas Association and similar trade organization advocate for propane and natural gas business interests and provide resources to help startups launch safe and successful operations. But to be competitive, you'll need to offer the products and services that are in demand with modern energy consumers:
- Energy Efficiency. In the current energy environment, consumers expect their energy suppliers to be partners in efficiency. Many propane and natural gas companies offer energy efficiency evaluations and other services designed to insulate their customers from unnecessary energy costs.
- Price Plans. The most competitive natural gas and propane businesses offer price plans and price protection programs to loyal customers. These programs fix pricing on an annual or seasonal basis, making it easier for consumers to plan for energy expenditures.
- Service Plans. Service and maintenance plans have become a popular offering for energy buyers. For a fee, your business will periodically service heating and cooling systems to ensure energy efficiency and to extend the system's useful life.
Successful Business Plans for Propane & Natural Gas Businesses
By now, you're probably tired of hearing how important a good business plan is to your propane and natural gas business startup.
Although it might seem like an unnecessary formality, your propane and natural gas company's business plan is a document that will shape your goals and strategies on a go-forward basis.
Furthermore, a good business plan will help you avoid key startup mistakes. If your business plan includes accurate industry metrics and conservative forecasts, your business will be less vulnerable to market fluctuations and catastrophic surprises.
Take a Look at Competitors
Prior to launching a propane and natural gas business in your area, it's a good idea to find out what the competition looks like. Try our link below to generate a list of competitors in your area. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of propane and natural gas businesses in your community.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
Once you've finished assessing the competion, it's a wise move to learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. If you think your local competitors will give you advice, you're being overoptimistic. What's in it for them?
Thankfully, an owner of a a propane and natural gas business in another town may be more than happy to give you a few tips, provided that you won't be directly competing with them. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
How do you locate a propane and natural gas business manager in a different locale who can assist you?
It's not that hard. Just use the handy link below and enter in a random city/state or zipcode.
Acquisitions vs. Startups
Unfortunately, many inexperienced propane and natural gas business entrepreneurs approach ownership with the mistaken idea that a startup is their only option when they could also pursue a business acquisition.
Unless you have compelling reasons to launch a new business, buying an existing propane and natural gas business may be the better choice.
Established propane and natural gas businesses are already equipped with the resources and processes new business owners struggle to acquire. The key is to locate a business-for-sale that closely matches your ownership philosophy and professional objectives.
As an entrepreneur, your chances becoming a successful entrepreneur are much greater when you franchise rather than going it alone.
If your goal is to start a propane and natural gas business, it's worthwhile to investigate whether purchasing a franchise might make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.
If you currently own a propane and natural gas business, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to propane and natural gas businesses, this isn't the right place for you. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.