Oil and Energy Online recently featured Kendall Rawls in “Diversification for the Next Generation” alongside Steve Abbate with Cetane Associates and Aimee (LaBrake) Allen with Degree Days Consulting.

Like many other industries, retail heating oil and propane gas marketers are experiencing rapid change.  Consolidation, political, and environmental pressures, as well as “what employees want” are forcing owners/operators to re-think and consider structuring their businesses differently.

Where it may feel as if options are limited in terms of talent and growing, Kendall Rawls suggests there are so many opportunities, it just takes sitting back and engaging in strategic thinking:

Rawls advised businesses to engage in “scenario planning” – a tactic that has become all the more valuable in light of COVID-19. A company that is debating whether to acquire a business or diversify an existing service department, for example, might first consider what would be the best possible circumstances for executing each plan, as well as “medium-to-bad” scenarios and worst possible cases.

Strategic and scenario planning, allows a business owner to determine new ways to generate revenue and overcome issues impacting their business such as how to:

  • Expand existing services into new markets
  • Add provide different services to existing markets
  • Attract talent and keep them
  • Create strategies to attract talent without just throwing money at the problem
  • Grow efficiently and effectively

Thinking through predictable, probable, and possible scenarios, business owners and their teams can create strategies to overcome any obstacle and create choices for the future they want.  A solution is often closer than people imagine. It may just take steering the ship one degree to the left or right to thrive in the face of change.

“Give yourself a runway of 12 months, have your team come up with five to six strategies, and debate them all given each scenario – best, bad or worst,” Rawls explained. “Those strategies that remain viable given all three scenarios should be implemented now.”

The worker shortage was a major theme during the Heat Conference.  Questions received from the audience ranged from:

  • How do we get people to apply?
  • How do we get them to choose our company amongst everyone else who is hiring?
  • Are there different ways to attract talent than paying them more than the highest offer?
  • How do we get people to stay long-term with our company?

The answer to all of the questions is found in the strength of the organization’s culture, which is influenced by those in positions of leadership.  The ability to Diversify for the Next Generation begins and ends with your ability to attract people to your organization and inspire them to grow with you.  Whether it be this generation, the last generation, the next generation, or future generations, the people who work for you want more than just a paycheck.  They are committing hours of their lives to the fulfillment of organizational goals. They want to be inspired and valued for their contributions.

According to McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index, there are 4 key qualities people look for in their leaders and ultimately organizational cultures:

  1. Supportive
  2. Strong orientation to results
  3. Seeks different perspectives
  4. Solves problems effectively

And, as was recently reported in INC magazine, one of the main reasons why people leave your culture can be boiled down into 4 words: “FEEDBACK THAT GOES UNHEARD”

Diversification and thriving through constant change require a team of inspired and empowered people.  When you have a strong culture, people in your community will talk. Retail heating oil and propane business owners are the heart of the community.  Therefore, when your people talk, the community listens and it will be known you are a top-notch place to work.  Then, by leaning into the creative resources of your team you can build resilient strategies to overcome any issue getting in the way of the collective vision.  Success through change, also known as succession; will be a foregone conclusion.

Read the entire article on the Oil and Energy Online website: Diversification for the Next Generation”

Contact us and we can help you with insights, other resources, and see if it makes sense to work together. At the very least, in 30 minutes, you may get some ideas you can apply to your business right away.

The Succession Planning Matrix

Many people put off succession planning because they think it means retirement, exit, and the end. However; succession planning is just the beginning. It gives the owner options in terms of what “their next” looks like, whether that be growth, philanthropy, or a new business venture. Our process focuses are addressing 10 key areas of what we call the Succession

Click the following link for more drill-down resources on The Succession Matrix, or check out our Facebook post.

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