July 1 last year saw ConocoPhillips go live with a major initiative to improve two-way communications with its Jet dealers through the launch of a secure customer extranet website and an end to paper invoicing. Two months later the CPNet online invoicing development scooped Jet the award for Best Oil Company Initiative in the Forecourt Trader of the Year awards.

What particularly impressed the judges was that the oil company had converted 98% of its dealers to the new CPNet system, with 95% logged on by the launch date. And considering that not all of the 409 Jet dealers had computers or were even computer literate at all, that was no mean feat.

Matthew Tudball, CPNet co-ordinator, said: “Dealers needed access to their account and other information outside ConocoPhillips’ office hours. CPNet provides faster communication between Jet and its customers, helping customers to help themselves.”

In the spring of 2003, the Jet Dealer Council and ConocoPhillips agreed that CPNet would become Jet’s primary method of delivering account information to dealers. Dealer roadshows were then organised during May 2003 to communicate the initiative, giving dealers just over a year to prepare for the system.

To help those who were not geared up for online invoicing, ConocoPhillips bought and then lent out computer equipment to dealers so that they could realise the benefits of online working and decide which equipment they wanted to buy.

The website has a number of benefits and key features of the ‘My Account’ area includes financial transactions with a sort and search facility; monthly statement of invoices due; a list of all unpaid and overdue items; six months financial history; current purchased volumes by product; comparision of volumes by year, month or quarter; and flexible security enabling the site manager to access single site information while the owner can access all site information.

With CPNet, invoices are available 24 hours earlier; monthly rolling terms statements have the value split by due dates in addition to the statement total to help budgeting; PDFs of invoices enable easier storage and electronic VAT submissions as agreed with Customs & Excise; and information can be downloaded direct into accounting software.

The website also acts as a more general communications tool with safety and environment news, details of latest legislation, a risk assessment guide for onsite checks, Jet’s retail emergency response plan with a checklist to print off and complete, as well as all direct phone numbers and email addresses for Jet retail staff – including the managing director!

The Highly Commended award for Best Oil Company Initiative went to Texaco for its online communication tool for Texaco-branded retailers.

Launched in the UK about two and a half years ago to the company-owned company operated sites, a year and a half later TexacoStation was rolled out to its company-owned retailer operated and company-owned franchise operated networks as well.

With key features such as current prices for fuel, plus that of the retailers’ marker locations; a fuel ordering system; access to Texaco’s weekly communication newsletter; a ‘talk-back’ feature for two-way communication; as well as up-to-date information on important issues such as legislation, health and safety, human resources and product information, TexacoStation is designed to help Texaco retailers run their businesses in a professional, legal and customer focused way.

The website also includes a feature called SCAIRS, an incident reporting tool for company-owned company operated sites. The manager can report all types of incidents, and a status of security incidents appears on the home page. Linda Cope, manager for field operations at Texaco, said the feature has enabled the oil company to better target where to spend its money to protect customer and staff.