Initially, we started with 1 truck in each of the Kilmacanogue and Gorey depots. Both trucks were, conservatively, 15 years old; Ireland was in the middle of yet another awful depression; interest rates were in the mid-teens; all in all, a perfect time to start a new business! Looking back, they were very tough years, hats off to Mum and Dad for keeping it going, but keep it going they did.
The years went by, myself and Kevin joined up in the early 90s, the business model changed, we started making a few bob, upgraded the fleet, volumes increased steadily and further changes then came when Topaz bought out Irish Shell’s interests. That change enabled us to expand our network and grow the business.
A lot of this growth came from adapting new ideas – we were the first Irish distributor to put a mini tanker on the road. Everybody thought that we were nuts, yet mostly everybody in the business has one now.
We have 5 depots now in the South East of Ireland and are still keen to tack a couple more on, so watch this space!
How did the relationship with Magnus Monitors come about?
Shankar walked into my office in October 2016 with a mortar shaped device. It was his version 1 of what we now know as the Magnus Monitor. We discussed its capabilities but mainly its potential. We had been looking for a cost-effective, reliable and accurate telemetry option for many years to no avail and now we had a chance to help with the development of such a product.
We agreed on a reasonably sized trial of 100 units scattered across Wicklow and Wexford and took it from there.
What were the business challenges or opportunities you wanted to address?
Like all oil distributors, despite the many marketing campaigns, radio ads, text message campaigns and personal calls, we still had a large number of run-outs across our customer base. As Murphy’s Law states, these run-outs happen in the busiest of times and we have to get to them that day. The routing sheets then become meaningless and everybody’s job instantly becomes more difficult with stressful juggling of all the demands along the supply chain.
If we could reduce the number of run-outs, we knew it would be a massive help to our delivery efficiencies but also improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
What made Magnus Monitors stand out as a suitable supplier?
The Magnus Monitor that is now on the market is truly unique. It’s reliable, is very robust and, like the old Ronseal ad – it does what it says on the tin!
As mentioned above, we had looked at many proposed solutions over the years. We stocked and marketed a couple of different product lines but stopped doing so as, in short, they just didn’t give us, or our customers, what we, or they, were looking for.
We liked what we saw with Eirscope and where they saw the product going. The fact that they actively looked for our input was huge. They listened to the issues from the oil distributors’ point of view rather than the other way around. That sealed it for us.
Tell us about the benefits.
Magnus Monitors are radar-based so all it takes is a simple sealant to install it on tanks. We don’t compromise the customers’ tanks by drilling holes. This allowed our staff to install 1000s of monitors with very little training and time.
We have now a large number of units out in our customer base across 6 counties and can now plan our routes well in advance. Our staff have totally embraced it because it helps all of us on a daily basis and customers are more aware of their usage thanks to the Magnus app.
In short, any customer who has a Magnus, doesn’t run out of oil, ever.
Our delivery routes have become far more efficient and we are better prepared for the spikes in orders that have become more common over the past few years. We can order our own stocks well in advance as we can see what is needed over the coming period.
It’s a win-win.
How did the implementation go?
There were a lot of learnings with Magnus Radar Monitor (Version 1). The main one being the critical customers who absolutely have to have their tanks monitored all appear to live in areas that have poor telecommunication coverage. This is where it was great to be part of the development. At the time, we were working off the Sigfox platform which worked nearly everywhere, but we needed those extra few percentages of cover.
The latest Magnus Radar Monitor version now provides this as it offers 5, if not 6, telecommunication options. The unit itself now selects which option works the best in a particular area and this has made the implementation pretty much seamless.
It works for residential tanks, as well as large commercial tanks with heavy throughput, including our depot tanks.
What about post-implementation?
It’s gone very well. We are now working on integrating it more into our own software systems. Any of our customers who has one loves it, as well as the peace of mind it gives them.
Is there any advice you would share with other distributors considering going along the same route?
We were one of the first suppliers in Ireland so, as an early adaptor, we got to hear and experience everything from the customer’s perspective.
It’s not for the entire customer base – yet. I can see that changing over time. The roll-out takes a while but is well worth it, so stick with it.
Just imagine a life without multiple customer run-outs on a daily basis and how much easier it would be to run the business without those run-outs – that’s what the Magnus will help you achieve.
How would you summarise?
The Monitor is easy to install and easy to use and the information provided is detailed without being over complicated for our staff to follow.
It was great to work with the Magnus Team. They are very open, supportive and quick to respond to our feedback.
Most importantly, we can now say to our customers: “You will never run out of oil again.”