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    Electronic Contact

    Jaco Oil automates fueling communication between its stores and headquarters.

    Supplying fuel to 100 retail sites -- 12 company-operated -- Jaco Oil, based in Bakersfield, Calif., had three major goals. First, to know how much fuel was sold at each store, each day so the company could get paid. Second, to get bill of lading information from the drivers when deliveries were made, and third, to automate dispatching.

    "We own the petroleum equipment, underground tanks, dispensers and canopy's, but 50 of our locations are on someone else's land," explained Charlie McCan, COO at Jaco Oil, operating under the Fastrip name. "I wanted the operators to be able to key in the information about how many gallons were sold and credit and debit transactions so I know how much money to draft from their account."

    McCan also wanted his drivers to be able to key in the bill of lading number, net gallons delivered, where the product came from and whose truck delivered it for each delivery to a store.

    After years of searching, the company chose Intellifuel Systems Inc. to provide one-way communication between the stores and the headquarters via a dial-up connection using a computer or Data Bug hooked up in the store.

    "They send the information once a day and we have it in our office before 7 a.m.," said McCan. The data is collected by Intellifuel in its Florida office and stored on a server in their facility. Intellifuel sends the information to Jaco Oil and the information flows directly into the company’s accounting software.

    "The data comes into our server, through a software program we had written," said McCan. "Factor, which is our back office software, wrote an interface for us so the information then flows directly into our accounting software. Before we had people who took the data and manually keyed in the information into Factor and now it is much more accurate and faster."

    The company piloted the system at two of its older stores for 30 days and then set up 25 more stores. "Intellifuel sent out a technician to work with our technician and set up the two stores and then we set up the next 25 and tested it for another month before installing 25 more," said McCan. "We had twelve people working on it, and did the last 50 in a month."

    Both store managers and truck drivers received training on the system, and McCan pays a monthly fee to Intellifuel for each location. "It's an inexpensive way to get the store information without a huge investment," he said. "It has streamlined our operation and allowed me to farm out inventory management of Northern California stores to carriers without any added expense. I had dispatch people doing it for us and now I've reduced my payroll. I give the carriers access to their regions and we reduced our overall costs. Also, the carriers like it because they can manage their own fleet deliveries."

    Phone communications to the company’s service department is also down because the information is received electronically. "Now there is a paper trail, which has been very helpful," said McCan. "The retailers even report needs for paper products, and it has reduced the amount of confusion."

    One of the biggest challenges was compliance by operators and drivers, since many of the stores did not own a computer. "A lot of them are old school so it took some encouragement, but persistence overcomes resistance," said McCan. "I have it in my contract with carriers that if they make over five errors, I start billing them five dollars. I had to provide a lot of encouragement to my operators, but after I run them out of gas, they learn. I've already done that and once I do they decide to participate in the program."

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