Currently the Rural Action Derbyshire scheme offers members the opportunity to take advantage of a bulk buying.

Currently the Rural Action Derbyshire scheme offers members the opportunity to take advantage of a bulk buying. Not everyone in the ‘off gas grid areas’, however, gas grid’ uses oil for fuel. Research the alternative fuel sources for solid fuel hea

Order Description

Currently the Rural Action Derbyshire scheme offers members the opportunity to take advantage of a bulk buying. Not everyone in the ‘off gas grid areas’, however, gas grid’ uses oil for fuel. Research the alternative fuel sources for solid fuel heating systems, taking into consideration the benefits of each fuel type, the cost and the feasibility of purchasing on a bulk buying system that could be administered in a similar way to the oil buying scheme.
Make recommendations and process map how an alternative fuel bulk buying scheme would operate.

Oil Buying Scheme Procedures

The secret to managing OBS is good record keeping. With a membership of approx. 325 members it is easy to lose track of what you have said to who and where each members is in the joining, ordering, renewing processes if you don’t log all phone calls / voicemails and a note as to when you responded.
A database manual is stored in the database folder on the OBS drive and a paper copy can be found in the general file.

OBS membership is now £20 for any member whether business, community organisation or individual.

When the scheme was first set up we used local coordinators to send in orders from their area. We no longer recruit new coordinators but have some existing ones who are happy to continue. Their membership is free of charge. A full list can be found on the database.

Handling an enquiry

1.    Enquiries will come by email or telephone
2.    Point out to members the pros and cons of joining the scheme.
•    We save an average of 5ppl on the best price available on the internet – this covers the cost of membership on the first order
•    Members need to be a little more organised about ordering, i.e. we only order once per month and so they can’t just call and get a delivery in a few days – they must plan ahead.
•    They will not know the price in advance – suppliers need a firm order for us to be taken seriously and get a good deal.
•    People who require a small or baby tanker should not join as we can’t get them a good deal. Only two suppliers in the county (Peak and Halso) operate this small tanker so we can’t ‘shop around’
3.    An information email or hard copy info pack should be sent to each enquirer
4.    Info pack should include
•    Membership application form / leaflet
•    Oil prices 2011-14
•    FAQs
•    Oil Buying Scheme ordering deadlines 2014
(all saved in Membership information/ Application & Info)

Adding a new member to the database

1.    Open the database
2.    From the main menu, click ‘source members’
3.    In the bottom left hand corner, use the arrows to find the next ‘empty’ form
4.    Complete the member details;
•    Title
•    First name
•    Surname
•    Address
•    Postcode
•    Telephone
•    Mobile
•    Email
•    Source – choose ‘no coordinator’
•    Member type – choose ‘Domestic’ (1)
•    Add detail of tank location / any problems the supplier needs to know about in capitals.
5.    Click the save ‘button’.
6.    New members must be emailed or receive a welcome letter, the buying schedule and an order form. An example email is stored in outlook drafts. Example letter in membership information / intro letters
7.    File the paperwork alphabetically in the relevant file
8.    Reference the cheque on the back with the members village and surname
9.    Complete the details on the long orange

Managing membership renewals

The database will not automatically generate a full list of renewals. A report can be produced which identifies which members are due to pay their year 2 membership fees but will not produce those who are into their third year. Instead I use the ‘members data table’ which is an excel spreadsheet that ‘sits behind’ the main menu.

At the beginning of each month I notify members who are due to renew in the following month. The renewal email contains info about when their membership is due to expire, how much oil they have bought and how much they have saved since they joined the scheme, unfortunately these must be generated separately.

To set up a monthly renewal list;
1.    Open member data table and hide all columns except title, forename, surname, postcode, email, date member joined, member type, year 2 member type, members active
2.    Highlight the date member joined column and order ascending so the spreadsheet reorganises into date order
3.    Identify the members needing to renew in the next month, copy and paste into a new spreadsheet.
4.    Delete those rows relevant to members who have already left the scheme (member type 5) or ‘FALSE’ in the member active column or who are coordinators (type 2)
5.    Change the member active column to a ‘paid’ column. You will need to monitor this so reminders aren’t sent to members who have already paid.
6.    Title and save in the renewals folder / membership information in the OBS drive.

To calculate savings info;
1.    Open the main menu of the database and click ‘purchase by surname’
2.    Add the first three or four letters of the members name add press enter. This generates a report from which you can retrieve the following  info;
•    Number of orders placed
•    The amount of oil ordered
•    The savings made against the average price
3.    Add this info to your spreadsheet

Sending renewal emails / letters
1.    Save example email in drafts folder
2.    Example renewal letter saved in membership info / renewals on the OBS drive, send 2nd class.
3.    Using the templates add in the savings info and renewal date and send.

To process returned renewals;
1.    Use the database to search for the member’s details (enter surname in ‘locate by surname’ field)
2.    This will tell you when they’re renewal is due, which will make them easier to find on the monthly renewal tracking spreadsheets. Identify the member as paid so they are not chased again.
3.    If they are renewing with WHHP funding, file the two documents together with the originals, putting the renewal form at front. If they are paying for renewal, file the documents identify the member has paid on the list as above but then process payment.
4.    Add a 1 and save.
5.    Members are filed in alphabetical order.
6.    Using the RAD RECEIPT long, complete the details, adding ‘R’ to the payment type so sally can distinguish it as a renewal fee.
7.    If a member has decided not to renew, add a 5 to the member type column and un-check the ‘member active’ box

I have recently re-designed the order form and have sent this out with the latest deadline reminder. Members can still use the old forms until they’re naturally phased out. This can be found in OBS drive / ordering / ordering forms.

Buying deadline reminder
1.    Email all members and coordinators using the draft template one week before the deadline. Use the ‘member data table’ to copy and paste all member’s email addresses.
Please remember to only send out bulk emails after 9.30pm (this can be done by using options and selecting delay delivery)

Receiving orders
1.    Orders will be received by email or hard copy in the post. Try to avoid taking phone orders unless the deadline is imminent. If this is the case, complete an order form on the member’s behalf and write ‘phone order’ and add the date to the form.
2.    Members can order 500 litres or more, NOT less. Members can also order top up but we need an estimate from them how much this will be. Suppliers will only carry and extra 100 or so litres for top ups.
3.    Members can order an additive and the charge for this varies but will be approximately £20 per 1000 litres.
4.    Members can be away when the delivery is made providing they have either left a neighbour in charge of unlocking their tank for delivery or there is no need for them to be present – there is space for them to add this info on the V2 order form.
5.    Check the database to ensure the member is not due for renewal or cancelled.
6.    Check and print order forms and file alphabetically in the 2013 order file
7.    Email / phone with a confirmation of receipt of the order form.
“Thanks for your order; I will be back in touch before the Xth with details of the price and supplier agreed.”
8.    Save email in a relevant folder in you outlook inbox.
9.    The scheme has 10 active coordinators; their forms can be printed and added to the front of the order file.

Setting up the bulk order
Order forms should arrive by 12.00pm on ‘deadline day’. It is at your discretion whether you add any that arrive later.

1.    Open the order form: in the OBS drive / ordering folder / order pro forma (emails)
2.    Save this blank document ‘Monthly order (emails)’ in the order folder
3.    Open the database and the member data table
4.    Unhide the following columns
•    Title
•    Forename
•    Surname
•    Address 1
•    Address 2
•    Postcode
•    Telephone
•    Mobile
•    Email address
•    Tank location
5.    Number each of the orders. This acts as a check to ensure no-one is missed.
6.    Copy and paste from the member data table. You will need to ‘OK’ the error message and delete the ‘title’ row.
7.    Add the number of litres the order requested, whether they want ‘only’ that or ‘to full’, add kerosene to the fuel type column and if the member has ordered additive, or has any other instructions such as holiday dates – add these to the notes column
8.    Check that the number of members on the order sheet tallies with your paper-based count.
9.    Total the number of litres ordered.
10.    Save to the order file and save again with email column deleted.
11.    Print the order with emails and file.

n.b. the database has some glitches – when ordering the spreadsheet alphabetically some of the members are not included. This is the same with the member data table. If you can’t find a member as you scroll through, they will definitely be at the top.

Negotiating the bulk order

1.    The day before you are due to negotiate, get your bench mark price by visiting and requesting a quote for 500 and 1000 litres from the office postcode. Make a note of the price per litre on each for all delivery schedules.
2.    Repeat the exercise in the morning then you are aware of whether the price is rising or reducing.
3.    Using the standard email contact all 5 suppliers listed in the document ‘Oil scheme suppliers’, stored in ordering folder / suppliers requesting a quote in your total amount.
4.    Give each approx. an hour to respond.
5.    Send reminder emails to those who haven’t quoted and note the best price given by each.
6.    Do not share your best price with any of the suppliers, this may prevent them offering an even cheaper ppl. Use adjectives such as marginally better, slightly better, way off the mark, pretty close etc. to give them a hint as to whether their quote is pennies, tenths of a penny or even hundredths of a penny above your best.
7.    Give each supplier the opportunity to re-quote and beat your ‘first round’ best price, ensuring that any price they offer they can hold for you until the end of the day.
8.    The decision about which price / supplier is best to go with can be influenced by their delivery window (obviously shorter is better) and their payment terms and conditions. Most members don’t mind paying in advance but payment on invoice is preferred.
9.    Aim to beat the benchmark price by approximately 5ppl with an equal delivery window.
10.    Notify the chosen supplier and email the order spreadsheet (without emails) Highlight any unusual requests and draw the sales person’s attention to these in an email. Confirm the terms and conditions with him before notifying members.

Notifying members
1.    Most members can be emailed the price and supplier info using the template email. Copy and paste addresses from the order spreadsheet.
2.    Members who do not have email must be contacted by phone. Make a note of whether you have spoken to them or left a message on the order spreadsheet.
3.    Send the same email to all active coordinators

Recording the bulk order
Each order is recorded so that we can use this information for renewal notices and statistics such as savings per litre over the year etc.
1.    From the main menu search for the first member on the order
2.    Click ‘purchase input form’
3.    Click ‘set bulk data’
4.    Enter the order date, product, supplier, current price, average price (Boiler-juice comparison) and click ‘enter bulk data’. This will grey out the info you have just added.
5.    Enter the number of litres purchased by this member and click ‘save bulk record’
6.    Click to the right of the member name panel
7.    Scroll down the list to find the next member on the order. Make sure it is the correct member by checking the details thoroughly.
8.    Enter number of litres, click ‘save bulk record’
9.    Repeat until all purchases are recorded and click ‘stop bulk input’

Add to website
The website has a list of prices on the OBS page which must be kept up to date. There is also a more detailed document which can be downloaded from the page. Keep this document up to date too as it is useful to send to people who make enquiries. You may wish to reduce the number of prices you can view from the page and just keep this info available to download / send out.


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