A woman balances on a red line sitting atop two hands, showcasing how to balance in a shifting landscape.
Strategies to accomodate your marketing & software operations for shifts in cybersecurity, customer demographics & more

From navigating the complexities of changing energy regulations to adapting to shifting consumer demographics, propane businesses must constantly adapt and innovate to remain competitive and resilient. Additionally, the ever-present threat of cyberattacks poses a significant risk to operations, requiring businesses to adopt robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data and critical infrastructure. The key to survival is building resiliency into the business, enabling it to thrive amidst change and upheaval. 

Adapting to New Dynamics in the Energy Industry 

The energy industry is undergoing a period of rapid transformation, driven by factors such as technological advancements, environmental concerns and evolving consumer preferences. Propane businesses must be prepared to adapt to these changes to maintain their market share and profitability. 

Key Strategies 

  1. Embrace technology: Propane companies can leverage technology to improve operational efficiency, customer service and overall business performance. This includes adopting cloud-based systems for managing customer data, inventory and deliveries, as well as implementing mobile applications for real-time tracking of delivery routes and technician schedules. 
  2. Monitor regulatory changes: Stay informed about changes in energy regulations and proactively adapt business practices to comply with new and evolving requirements. This may involve investing in new equipment or training employees on new procedures. 
  3. Explore alternative energy sources: Consider expanding product offerings to include alternative energy sources, such as renewable propane or solar, to meet the evolving needs of customers and diversify revenue streams. 


To successfully implement these strategies, management should clearly communicate the reasons for change, engage employees in the planning process and provide comprehensive training. Setting measurable goals and recognizing achievements can also help build buy-in and maintain momentum. 

Shifting Demographics 

The demographics of propane customers are changing, with a growing number of older adults and fewer millennials becoming homeowners. These shifts in demographics necessitate a tailored approach to marketing, sales and customer service. 

Key Strategies 

  1. Understand customer needs: Conduct market research to understand the specific needs and preferences of different customer segments, such as older adults and millennials. This can be as sophisticated as a formal market study, or as simple as a survey of existing customers. Tailor marketing messages and sales strategies to resonate with each segment. 
  2. Embrace digital marketing: Use digital marketing channels, such as social media, pay-per-click ads and email campaigns to reach a wider audience and engage with potential customers. This will be particularly effective with younger homeowners. 
  3. Offer personalized customer service: Provide exceptional customer service tailored to the specific needs of each customer segment by offering online bill pay options, providing propane equipment maintenance and educating customers about energy efficiency measures. Use your customer database software to identify services and/or products that you can sell to individual customers. 

To effectively market to and serve different customer segments, management should involve employees from various departments in strategy development. Customer-facing staff can provide invaluable insights, while marketing and IT teams can collaborate on tailored digital campaigns and innovative service offerings. 

Mitigating Cyber Threats 

Cyberattacks pose a significant threat to all businesses both large and small, and propane companies are no exception. A recent report on cybersecurity predicted that the cost of cybercrime would reach a massive $9.5 trillion in 2024 and would be in excess of $10.5 trillion in 2025. A cyber intrusion can disrupt operations, compromise sensitive data and damage a company’s reputation. Businesses must implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect their systems and valuable assets. 

Key Strategies 

  1. Conduct cybersecurity risk assessments: Regularly assess cybersecurity risks to identify potential vulnerabilities and implement the necessary and appropriate mitigation measures. 
  2. Implement employee cybersecurity training: Educate all employees extensively about cybersecurity threats and best practices to protect company data and systems. This is not a “one-time” process but must be repeated regularly as the techniques used by cybercriminals evolve. This training should include simulated “phishing” to teach all employees to be alert for and recognize potential attempts to obtain access to your system through subterfuge. 
  3. Secure critical infrastructure: Protect critical infrastructure, such as propane storage tanks and delivery vehicles, from cyberattacks by implementing access controls and physical security measures. 

Fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness is crucial. Management should lead by example, adhering to best practices and encouraging open communication about potential threats. Regular training, clear policies and performance incentives can reinforce desired behaviors. 

Make Resiliency a Priority From Top to Bottom 

By proactively addressing the challenges of changing dynamics, shifting demographics and cyber threats, propane companies can build resiliency and thrive in the face of adversity. This requires embracing change and adapting business strategies to stay ahead of industry trends and customer preferences. But it requires a “buy in” at all levels of an organization, from the owner’s office, to the management team, to the customer service staff, and delivery and service personnel. 

Open communication, clear expectations and acknowledgement of positive actions are essential parts of the process. Management should involve employees in strategic planning, provide ample training and resources, and celebrate successes along the way. Building resilience is an ongoing journey that requires dedication, agility and a commitment to continuous improvement from everyone in the organization.

Marty Kirshner is a partner and leads the Energy Practice Group at Gray, Gray & Gray LLP, a business consulting and accounting firm that serves the propane industry. He can be reached at 781-407-0300 or mkirshner@gggllp.com


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