Propane marketers, oil, gas, and “energy” business owners manage daily changes affecting their business’s short and long-term goals. While there’s no way to control what goes on in the world, there is a way to plan and keep your business stable despite family, political, economic, or business challenges.

Doug Woosnam, a Consultant with Cetane Associates, Marty Kirshner, Partner with Gray, Gray & Gray, Clayton Latiolais and Champ Rawls, succession planners with The Rawls Group, discuss a diversity of strategies to maximize the value of your business.

An essential step for future-proofing your business is determining how to maximize business resources.

As Champ Rawls says:

“What is the point of growth if you don’t know what you’re good or bad at now.” Determine what your business excels at, whether it’s dealing with oil, HVAC, gas, or even renewable energy; focus on your strengths and then determine if there are additional opportunities to build upon them and diversify your services or products.”

Diversifying ensures your business doesn’t fall off when seasons or economic conditions change. After figuring out your business’s strengths and what it can offer in the off-season, planning and strategizing comes next.

Marty Kirshner recommends diversification as

“having other products and services that you can do outside of the winter, especially in the summertime, offsets seasonality of revenues.”

A loss of revenue within one season doesn’t have to be a complete loss, as it can be made up during another season with different services or products. Strategic planning sessions are essential to identify strategies to fill revenue-producing gaps where needed.

As Champ Rawls says,

“Sitting down and having a strategic planning session, which might sound boring, allows you to understand the budget and how you can push it during the ups and downs of any type of weather, politics, technical disruption.”

Understanding and sticking to an operational budget will help you run your business efficiently and be well-positioned for unexpected changes.

Doug Woosnam goes on to support the need for strategic planning and budgeting sharing,

“The first thing an owner needs to do is create an operational budget.”

An operational budget will measure what your business is doing and how it is performing. It essentially is a plan that keeps your business on track, as strategies and the budget work together for the company to run efficiently.

Future-proofing your business also involves building a culture that attracts and retains employees. Whether it’s within the day-to-day, communicating about the “why” behind strategic decisions, or asking employees for feedback, it must be done in a way that involves respect and creates growth for the employees.

As Clayton Latiolais says,

“Creating pathways for entering the business is key to developing a resolute workforce.”

These pathways and growth opportunities must be enticing for the type of talent you want to attract and retain long-term.

Whether dealing with the decision to grow or sell, professional guidance provides you with many more opportunities and options than the DIY strategy.   As Champ Rawls says,

“Do not go to and get a buy-sell agreement; get a professional who knows what they’re doing.”

For more insight:

Visit the “Create Control Over Your Future” discussion page or select one of the additional episodes of the series below:


  • Cetane Associates: a unique group of fuel industry specialists armed with assets and proprietary processes that help them perform wonders for their clients
  • Gray, Gray, and Gray:  With 77 years of experience working with fuel oil and propane marketers and convenience store owners, Gray, Gray & Gray has established a reputation as the energy industry’s leading accounting, consulting, and business advisory firm.
  • Succession Readiness Survey:  A 7-minute investment in time will put you in an informed position of opportunities many business owners overlook, impacting business value, growth, and lifestyle, and ultimately achieving your vision.
  • Contact a Succession Planner: The Rawls Group can help you with insights and 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 immediately.

Strategic Planning

The only constant one can plan for is change.  Strategic planning positions the business to address the probable, possible, and potential contingencies impacting business success. 

Click the following link for more drill-down resources on Strategic Planning

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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.