The #1 Question We Hear Your Customers Asking.
How do I scale up with my gas supplier?
When you’re working with clients that are looking to scale up in terms of gas usage, communication is key. Though the need for new service methods, equipment, and safety measures in response to a customer’s increased usage may seem obvious to you, this is not as widely understood outside the industry. Because of this, it’s important to stay in touch with your clients to ensure they will be able to scale up efficiently and safely.
How Can You Help Clients Scale Up?
In the world of industrial gas, the supplier/customer relationship can and should go beyond selling and buying gas. All too often, however, gas suppliers fail to help their customers as their companies scale up. In two past installments of Ratermann’s Women’s Round Table Sessions, which took place in separate months, guest speakers Lo Friesen of Heylo Cannabis and Hannah Gohde of Naked Brewing independently brought up this topic.
“As we’ve grown and scaled up, our distributor hasn’t come to us and said ‘hey, when you get to this volume, here is an alternative way to have us service you’ – for example, having a larger vessel outside that gets refilled as opposed to having the bottles swapped in and out,” Lo said.
Due to this lack of support and advice, Lo has considered switching gas suppliers for Hey-Lo Cannabis entirely.
During another session, Hannah – who sits on several association committees – discussed just how prevalent issues related to scaling up have become. She said nearly everyone she has spoken to in the brewing industry has run into problems with their gas suppliers as they have grown.
According to Hannah, this lack of guidance on how to scale up can be particularly damaging to newly-established businesses.
“It’s super overwhelming. There’s a lot to cover, and you’re trying to focus on the here and now – ‘what do I need to operate on what I’m currently building?’ A well-thought-out business plan will include plans for expansion and how to do that, but oftentimes, it doesn’t,” she said.
Hannah has personally felt the impact of poor communication between gas suppliers and their customers – especially when it comes to the safety hazards that can arise as a result.
“The thing that I’m probably most passionate about … is making sure that all of your gas tanks and cylinders are properly secured. I had a pretty gnarly injury as a result of one of those tanks not being properly secured,” she said.
Due to her injury, Hannah had to go through two surgeries. Even so, she sustained permanent damage in her hand and arm.
When Do Businesses Need to Scale Up?
Clients typically scale up in response to increased demand. Let’s say you have a customer that goes through one cylinder a week at first, but eventually goes through six cylinders a week. You can then deliver a six-pack of cylinders instead of six individual tanks, followed by a 12-pack if their business continues to increase. If that’s not enough, you may want to talk to this client about liquid cylinders and micro-bulk tanks. At each point in the process, you should start considering more efficient delivery methods when the old methods become overly labor-intensive.
Although keeping up with your clients’ demand for gases is important, it’s just as critical not to oversize customers. If you oversize customers that are using liquid cylinders, these liquids can become oversaturated – and the resulting increase in pressure can lead to major problems. Because of this, you’ll need to determine the gas usage “sweet spot” for each of your customers.
When Should You Talk to Clients About Scaling Up?
Both Lo and Hannah said they wished their gas supplier had asked them about their goals at the start of their relationship/contract. Talking to new customers about their long-term plans for scaling up and their knowledge of gas/cryogen safety early on can go a long way in terms of building a strong partnership.
Some questions you may wish to ask your clients early on include:
- Do you understand how to safely secure your tanks, and why this is important?
- Do you know where to get the equipment to secure your tanks?
- How much gas are you using now (in cubic feet per month)?
- What percentage are you trying to grow every year?
- Do you plan on staying in your current location for a while?
- Does your city have laws that prevent micro bulk tanks?
- When you have questions or need help, do you know how to contact us?
What Products Should Your Clients Know About?
Once you’ve established what your customers do or don’t know about safely using gases and cryogens, you may want to give them advice on the equipment they should consider using. Here are our top recommendations for products that come with the benefits of safety and reliability:
Businesses using any type of gas cylinders need to keep these tanks firmly in place. Our straps and chains can help your customers ensure they won’t be responsible for a situation similar to – if not worse than – what Hannah went through. Click here to view truck distribution supplies.
RPV Cylinder Valves
According to Lo, she and her peers in the cannabis industry had not realized that 50-pound tanks used for cannabis extraction purposes could not be returned due to contamination. Ratermann’s cylinder valves that incorporate Residual Pressure Valve (RPV) technology can prevent backflow, eliminating contamination in the process. Click here to shop RPV valves.
When you’re working with cryogens like liquid nitrogen, you’ll want to store them safely – and one of the best ways to do that is with a cryogenic liquid cylinder, which is a type of tank designed for this exact purpose. Depending on a client’s needs, these tanks are available both with and without wheels. Click here to shop liquid cylinders.
Arctic Fox Mini Bulk Tank/Micro Bulk Tank
Another storage option for cryogens is our Arctic Fox tanks, which are available in four sizes ranging from 1,500 to 6,000 liters. Among other features, these tanks boast top and bottom fill capabilities – clients with large cryogenic transport trailers will be able to fill them while production continues! Click here to shop Arctic Fox Tanks.
With vaporizers, customers can safely handle the regasification of gases that are stored in liquid form. Ratermann offers a wide selection of cryogenic vaporizers that allow for additional flow rate – we can provide a vaporizer to your clients that fits the size and style they’re looking for! Click here to shop vaporizers.
Vacuum Jacketed Hoses
Traditional hoses used in cryogenic applications may become frosted, and that can result in dangerous wet floors in your customers’ facilities. Our vacuum jacketed hoses are designed to always stay warm and flexible, all but eliminating this risk. Shop Vacuum Jacketed Hoses.
Help Your Customers Scale Up the Ratermann Way
If you want to develop a relationship with your customers that goes beyond supplying gas to them, starting a conversation about scaling up is a great place to start. The people you serve might not have thought about this topic before, but it’s one of the most important things that a business using industrial gases can take into consideration.
All the products mentioned in this article are available from Ratermann. If you or your clients want to learn more, get started by looking at our catalog!