Choosing a fuel oil company to heat your home or business isn't something to take lightly. In 2018 alone, 5.5 million homes in the United States used heating oil to warm their spaces. While you shop around for the best deal, remember you might not get that if you opt for the cheapest provider in your area. Here are some key factors to consider when choosing an oil provider for your home or business.
Primary Types of Oil Companies
Oil companies generally come in two types — full-service and discount. Full-service heating oil providers sell oil and offer various other services. The exact nature of those services will vary between companies. These businesses will also have a physical location that you can visit, and they may have worked in an area for many years.
Discount oil companies also sell oil but don't offer any other services. They may operate on a "cash on delivery" basis, meaning you pay only when the oil is delivered. They might look like the most cost-effective option, but they're only able to offer those low prices because they don't provide any other services.
One out of three customers will pay more to receive better service, but is it really worth the extra expense? Let's find out!
Full Service vs. Discount Services — What Are You Really Getting?
Let's break down the differences between full-service and discount heating oil companies.
First, we have customer experience. Full-service heating oil dealers usually have a strong and positive reputation. This quality brings in a lot of customers — 85% of consumers polled stated that they stuck with a company because of a history of transparency. On the other hand, discount companies usually have very little accountability or investment. They can open one month and disappear the next.
What about supply? Have you ever called a discount oil company, only to find they couldn't deliver because they were out of fuel? Discount oil providers don't maintain their own fuel stores, so they may not be able to make deliveries if demands are high. Full-service companies do manage their storage facilities, so they won't run out of fuel.
More than 80% of American consumers state that knowledgeable help is one of the most important parts of customer experience. With full-service companies, you have access to trained professionals who likely have many years of experience in the industry. With discount companies, there is no way of knowing how well the technicians have been trained. Many discount heating oil dealers hire anyone off the street without background checks and may not bother to train them, as a way to cut costs.
Oil quality is also something you should consider when choosing a company. Full-service heating oil providers have access to premium oil, which can cost you a little more. Discount companies often sell untreated oil that can damage your equipment and increase the need for costly repairs.
When it comes to delivery, we all need a company that will work around our schedule and make it easier for us to keep our tanks full. Full-service companies often offer automatic delivery, so you don't even need to keep track of things like time and date.
Discount oil dealers don't have the tools to do that, so they will only deliver fuel to your home when you place an order — if they have any to spare. Upwards of 90% of customers prefer when a business knows their account history.
Full-service companies can also provide different payment options, from electronic funds transfer (EFT) and check to credit cards. They also offer price protection options and flexible payment plans. Discount oil companies require payment in full on delivery and generally require cash or check at the door.
Put Your Money Toward a High-Quality Heating Oil Dealer
When it comes to choosing a fuel oil company for your home or business, the old adage holds up. You really do get what you pay for. Instead of living with the guesswork of a discount heating oil service, invest in a trustworthy company like Smart Touch Energy if you want a long-term partner for all your oil and heating needs.