A few months after the Conoco Phillips demerger to create a business dedicated solely to its downstream operations, Phillips 66 took to the road in a uniquely branded bus to do what it does best – talking, and building customer relationships
Over 200 dealers and distributors turned up to the Phillips 66 roadshow at exciting locations across the country, to take a seat in the specially designed double-decker bus, talk to members of the team, and learn more about the company after its introduction to the UK market earlier this year.
It was a whirlwind journey around the UK, designed to allow as many customers to attend as possible. The dual-branded Phillips 66 and JET bus visited eight iconic venues, including the Falkirk Wheel, Bristol Planetarium, Twickenham and the Imperial War Museum. Fuel Oil News joined in the fun at the last event at Old Trafford football stadium, for a chat about the benefits of the recent reorganisation, and a peek into the Phillips 66 future.
A seamless split
“Looking back at the demerger, it has appeared seamless – but there has been a lot of work from those behind the scenes in the organisation,” said Pete George, managing director, UK and Ireland marketing.
Lindsey Grant, manager, national sales, added: “The roadshow has been about showing that although operations are under a new name, we still have the same culture, mind-set and strengths. The name has changed, but we haven’t changed who we are.
“Our objectives from the outset were to introduce customers to our team and highlight our new customer-centric structure and approach. It was also just as important for us to get feedback from customers and find out more about their needs directly from them. We feel that we have achieved this and more.”
Phillips 66 was introduced in the UK in May this year, when the downstream business split from the ConocoPhillips name to create two independently operated companies. As a result, Phillips 66 focuses on downstream refining, marketing operations and trading in the UK, while also continuing to market its fuel brand as JET. The move also included a company restructure, involving the creation of a separate national sales team, led by Lindsey, to look after UK-wide brands, such as GB Oils and Watson Petroleum. Independents with a regional base are now looked after by Guy Pulham, manager, regional sales, and a team of regional managers.
“We have introduced a number of changes during the reorganisation to further support our distributors. For example, regional account co-ordinators have been introduced to be on hand for customers when a member of the sales team is on the road or unavailable,” said Guy. “A new online system has also been installed at Bramhall, Immingham and Kingsbury which calculates the daily amount of fuel a distributor has lifted. If needed, they can request to lift additional product, meaning no wasted journeys.
“The service we provide for each customer depends on the type and level of support they require,” added Lindsey. “Whereas national customers need a UK outlook, regional customers now have a contact within their local area to match the needs of their business. Matching technology and different planning strategies are also tailored for each customer.
“The reorganisation addresses the way the industry is heading, and means Phillips 66 is at the forefront for the benefit of our customers,” said Lindsey.
Busy ensuring that the split and restructure was as smooth as possible for customers, the company has been less vocal than usual. The roadshow presented the perfect opportunity to show customers that it’s business as usual and shout about the benefits of the structural changes.
“We’ve seen a lot of people and it’s been a lot of fun,” Lindsey continued. “Our biggest strength is our service focus and the relationships we have with our customers, so the bus acted as the ideal mobile venue for us to talk informally to people in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.”
Culture of success
The company recognises its culture as one of its core strengths, emphasised by the name change to Phillips 66 – which has been one of the leading fuel brand names in the United States for decades.
“The Phillips 66 culture is very family oriented,” explained Pete George. “Our values of safety, honour and commitment are a perfect fit with the UK business.
“We like to think we have a different approach. We listen to our customers and they have almost unlimited access to us – most have got my mobile number. We’ve got a very responsive and energetic team who don’t have to answer calls at 10pm, but they want to. You can’t buy that culture, you have to create it.”
Pete was planning to retire later this year, but accepted his new position as part of the reorganisation and has no regrets about continuing.
“It didn’t take a lot to persuade me to stay on after the restructure. I love the unique culture of the company, which was shown at its best throughout the roadshow. It’s a breath of fresh air in a corporate world.”
An earlier interview with Pete George was published on page 6 of the September 2012 issue of Fuel Oil News.