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Fuel Your Fun: Scott Balwinski and Lynsey Steffy of Cynch Fueled by AmeriGas

July 16, 2019

Scott Balwinski, Director of Home Delivery, and Lynsey Steffy, Associate Product Manager, at Cynch fueled by AmeriGas, join us today on the Real-World Branding Podcast. Scott retells his transformation from a transportation engineer to Director of Home Delivery at Cynch. Lynsey describes how AmeriGas – an established player in the propane industry – pioneered a revolutionary home service in the age of instant product delivery. There is still time to order your propane tank through Cynch at use code “CYNCH10”! If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a rating!

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Bill Gullan: Greetings, one and all. This is Real-Word Branding. I’m Bill Gullan, President of Finch Brands, a premier boutique brand consultancy. Every so often when we record a couple of these and we get ahead, we kind of have them in the can. They’re evergreen, they aren’t as reliant on the calendar or current events. They’re great stories, but it really isn’t important whether it’s this week or next week when we release them, but not the case today, and you know why? It’s because summer is halfway done, or at least I think July 4th is the sort of official midpoint, and that means a lot of us are grilling. And if we’re going to be grilling, we’re going to need a propane tank, in many cases, if we have a gas grill, and we happen to have a discussion today about a new solution for the task of replacing propane and making sure that you can worry about your guests and your fun.

Bill: So we had the team, at least two of the key members of the team, behind a new launch of a service called Cynch from AmeriGas, which is the propane leader I think by and large, by a great distance. Scott Balwinski and Lynsey Steffy here with us to talk about… and if you’re in the Philadelphia region you’ve probably seen advertising on social media or well beyond for Cynch. It’s a new service. We were fortunate enough to play a role in it. It’s a great story and it’s a fascinating thing, and if you stay till the end you’ll get a promo code, so enjoy Scott Balwinski and Lynsey Steffy from Cynch.

Bill: Coming to you from AmeriGas HQ in King of Prussia, PA, so glad to have Scott Balwinksi, who’s the Director of Home Delivery at AmeriGas, and Lynsey Steffy who is Associate Product Manager with us. Thanks for having me.

Scott Balwinski: Hey.

Lynsey Steffy: Thanks for coming.

Bill: Oh, it’s a pleasure, and getting to know you all has been a pleasure. I know that our listeners are really going to enjoy the story of Cynch. If you live in our region, you can’t help but see it. It’s launched recently, it’s everywhere.

Scott: Very exciting, yeah.

Bill: That’s the goal.

Lynsey: Mm-hmm

Bill: So, let’s start where we normally do, and we can go one at a time. I mean, you both have sort of interesting stories, I think, that have led you to this point career-wise. Scott, maybe we start with you. You’re undergrad, you’re an engineer, yes? By at least education.

Scott: That’s right. And the funny path you take to different places in your career. But I was an engineer, actually a transportation planner engineer.

Bill: Interesting.

Scott: Which I guess comes full circle here-

Bill: Right, sure does.

Lynsey: Did you plan that?

Scott: … now that we’re designing delivery truck routes and everything else like that, so… No, engineer undergrad, had a stint doing management consulting, like a lot of people. Got to see a lot of different industries early on. Hit business school on the way, and had a stint at AOL because everybody… I’m from northern Virginia and everybody from northern Virginia, I think, you can’t go to a cocktail party without 75% of the people ex-AOL employees.

Bill: Sure, sure.

Scott: But for those keeping score, I hit it after the run-up, so poor timing there, but-

Bill: You weren’t bringing discs with 100 free hours or whatever to people at parties, or it was a little bit past that?

Scott: No, actually I joined during the broadband stages of that, when AOL was transitioning to broadband. And then, we’ll get into this later, but also the management team there, we as a group went over to an education company, which was great. We had to grew that from pre-IPO to post-IPO.

Bill: Very cool.

Scott: And had a great run there. So I actually spent 10 to 15 years of my career in actually education and operational roles and product management roles, general management roles, you name it. I sort of posit myself as a general manager, operator, get stuff done kind of guy, and strong bias reaction, which also led me to Propane Taxi when the founder of Propane Taxi, who became a serial entrepreneur, needed someone to run it day-to-day. I had a cup of coffee with him, and he was a great salesman, and I shouldn’t have had that cup of coffee because that was my entrée into propane and the world of propane.

Scott: So I joined Propane Taxi as its CEO, which was doing home delivery of propane, and I think we’ll talk about this, but then ultimately it made sense to join forces with a large industry player, bringing a lot of different things to the table that we certainly didn’t have as a smaller company. So it’s sort of a match made in heaven. And as of the last… in 2018 we merged with AmeriGas and I’ll let Lynsey talk about it from the AmeriGas perspective, but happy to be here and now we’re doing great things together.

Bill: Sure, and it seems like, and we’ll go to Lynsey in a second, it seems like Propane Taxi and AmeriGas may have been thinking similar things in separate places.

Scott: Absolutely.

Bill: So Lynsey, AmeriGas is your first gig, tell us about you.

Lynsey: Yeah, I know. So I went to school at Susquehanna University-

Bill: Track and field team. What was your event or events?

Lynsey: Yes! The 200 and the 400.

Bill: Nice.

Lynsey: Little bit of 800, but it was kind of a little long for me.

Bill: We will not race in the parking lot after this, no.

Lynsey: No, I have since retired. No, but I studied business marketing, did that because you could pretty much get a job anywhere with a business degree, and I like the creative side of business, so stuck with the marketing piece. Great education, which is awesome, and then I spent the summer figuring out what I wanted to do. I wanted to work for a big company, didn’t really care who, just a stable bigger company.

Bill: Sure.

Lynsey: And stumbled upon AmeriGas on LinkedIn and applied, and two days later got an interview.

Bill: There you go.

Lynsey: And then two days later got hired.

Bill: Nice!

Lynsey: So it was very quick.

Bill: Yeah, that’s a really tough search process, wow.

Lynsey: Yeah, it was crazy, I mean I did enjoy my summer, but-

Scott: I would say you just sold yourself there.

Bill: Yeah, right.

Scott: They couldn’t pass it up.

Lynsey: I was just such a great seller of myself and my skills that they just had to hire me.

Bill: Absolutely.

Lynsey: No, but yeah, I got a marketing specialist role with AmeriGas with their grill tank exchange, so working with the Home Depots, Dollar Generals, 7-Elevens of the world, marketing with them, promoting the grill tank exchange business that had the cages outside, the vending machines now.

Bill: Yeah, we’ve all seen them, yeah.

Lynsey: Yeah, so recently Wawa too.

Bill: There we go.

Lynsey: Yeah, it was awesome. I loved it. It was a great opportunity for me to learn a lot and meet awesome people who I’ll never forget, and then continue to meet awesome people. But yeah, then this opportunity came up last summer, actually, I want to say probably, actually, a year ago, where we found out about Propane Taxi and my boss came to me and was like, “What do you think of this?” And I was like, “I think it’s amazing. It’s so where it needs to go.” And so we worked together and he went off and did a stint for a consulting company and mapped out the journey of how we were going to do it.

Lynsey: And then, when Propane Taxi came to the table, we were like, this is great, we’re going to bring in so much great resources and knowledge that we didn’t have. I mean, we were running off of what we thought we knew versus bringing on Propane Taxi which knew, so when we all got together and merged, when we met with Scott and Johnny for the first time, it was all of this insight and all of this knowledge, and I just was like, “I’m in it, we’re here.” So I just-

Scott: We were able to reaffirm the product market fit-

Bill: Right, right.

Lynsey: Exactly.

Scott: … for propane and brought our customer data along with it.

Lynsey: Yeah.

Bill: Yeah, sure. So, and we’ll bounce back and forth between the two of you because it is in some ways a parallel story, and it’s a fascinating one. So Scott, you had a cup of coffee with a very persuasive person. What insight, what… I mean I guess the insight may be fairly obvious. Many categories that are very traditional have been disrupted by technology, there’s an automated economy, there’s an expectation, but what is it that led your partner at the time to choose propane. Talk about the origin story of Propane Taxi.

Scott: Yeah, no, that’s a great point, and of course I won’t do it justice like the founder would, but… No, it did start, he first had the inspiration when his then pregnant wife told him to come home from work and get a grill tank because she couldn’t get it delivered, and she was surprised about that. Of course, we’re at the age now where you expect things to get delivered. And this was circa 2006, 2007, right, so this is a little bit before maybe the Amazon Prime that is today, but certainly product delivery. So he did, and a better husband than I would’ve been, because I would have been like, “Figure it out,” something like that. So anyhow, bonus points for him.

Scott: But then he looked into the industry a little bit, and the thing that I think Lynsey was just alluding to is propane is an industry that’s not really geared towards end-user marketing. It’s a little bit of a utility, people take it for granted, and he was looking at one of the industry magazines and it said, “How important is marketing in your industry?” And it was only like three percent of people said important, or very important.

Lynsey: I took that survey. No I’m kidding.

Scott: And it was funny too, because the title… people call themselves propane marketers. So propane marketers, that’s the industry term that they were-

Bill: Because the product is standard, I mean propane is propane right? There’s not an opportunity to differentiate there, so service delivery-

Scott: It’s a commodity, absolutely. So, just the idea that a delivery mixed with, maybe, and industry that’s a little bit slower to adapt than other industries, maybe didn’t have the impetus to do it, and he was like, “All right, let me do this.” And he started it alongside his current job, grew it to a point where it became his full-time job and then grew it. And Propane Taxi, for those that don’t know, it’s serving four markets, home-based out of Washington, D.C. So obviously a modicum of success, product market fit, but we found ourselves limited at one point because there’s a couple advantages that AmeriGas had that we didn’t have. One is a nationwide distribution network.

Bill: Absolutely, right, right.

Scott: Obviously a lower cost of an access to the propane, the propane cylinders, the refurbishing, refilling of all those, the national built-in network just provided a lower cost operation that we could do. So a lot of our, as a smaller-scale operation, just not as cost-efficient. No surprise. Obviously, then, also the access to capital, right? It takes money to open a city, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s people, the technology behind that, that helps. I think the things that we bring to the table was obviously a startup can-do, rapid market release kind of mentality, a technology, a platform, and then just, like we just earlier said, the customer data. All the potholes that you would step into as you launched a new business, we’ve already stepped into them-

Bill: You’ve done them, right, right, you knew what they were, yeah.

Scott: We knew them all, we had the bad omens to prove it, and we like to say that at least we’ll save some battle wounds for the next person through.

Bill: Yeah, scar tissue’s helpful. And so Lynsey, that’s great, so from your perspective, you’re sitting within this large organization, very stable business, big business, national leader. You are working with the part of the business, at least in terms of the retail connections, that sounds like you were doing some innovative things, it wasn’t just the dusty old independent gas station, you were doing some things. But now it goes into real innovation terrain. Talk about it from your perspective.

Lynsey: I’ll start from the beginning where it’s like, when we started rolling out the vending machines with Walmart, Sam’s Club, and now with Wawa, it was really cool because it was something different than a normal, standard cage, and I liked that. I liked the opportunity where you could learn more about this and give people a more convenient option. And, me being younger, I was like, change is always really good, and you want to see your company evolve. And a propane company, you definitely… it’s not the first thing you think of, where it’s like, oh, it’s so evolutionary and so moving in the right direction and forward. It’s one of those things where you said, you set it and forget it.

Lynsey: But when those vending machines came out, I started getting a little more excited, because we’re doing something more with our product. And then, once those are now rolling, which they’re continuing to roll, which is great, and then Propane Taxi and propane home delivery was starting to be discussed, I was so interested, I was like, “We have to do this.” I can’t even believe, one, I didn’t think this when I first came in because I didn’t know it was even an option, but when Propane Taxi came in and we started all working together, it was that moment where you take a big company and then you shake it up a little bit and say, “We’re going to just throw everything at the board and see what sticks,” and shake up processes and different kinds of things that we’re evolving and changing. It’s good for not only us, but for the company as a whole. And thinking of that way, being innovative in an ever-changing market is something that’s-

Scott: I was just going to add, I don’t think it was necessarily an easy decision for AmeriGas either. Being an entrenched player and creating not only… home delivery can cannibalize your existing business and channels-

Bill: Yeah, channel conflict and-

Scott: Channel conflict and-

Lynsey: Good point, yeah.

Scott: But I think the impetus was just the concept of, if we don’t do it, this decision’s growing, someone else will. So sometimes you have to take that first leap of faith and get out there and be the first mover, so to speak.

Bill: Yeah. Well I’m sure, to both of your points, that isn’t necessarily the muscle memory that AmeriGas has, organizationally, but I think to their credit… I’m sure that not only people, but processes here to bring something to market quickly in a way that is consumer-facing and consumer-friendly was probably a really different club in the back here that may not exist institutionally, historically. But credit to this large organization to make this happen. And of course importing expertise, folks who’ve fallen in those potholes and taken a look into the market, but also dedicating an internal team of resources, energetic people.

Lynsey: And we credit our leadership too for believing in it and pushing it forward. Because without them, we would still be fighting an uphill battle. And it is nice to have the support behind you and know that somebody has your back and is like, “No, this is where it needs to go, and this is where needs to end up to be successful.” So, even just having that is key.

Scott: Right, and I think the other side of it is, if you step back, it’s a pretty stable industry and it’s in its life cycle of… there’s propane home users that are pretty stable, the overall cylinder market’s been pretty well-established and saturated. So this is also a lot of internal excitement about this, not only from the executives but throughout the whole company ranks. Just a new product, a new growth engine for the company, something that is a little bit shinier, I guess, if you will, not to get cliché.

Bill: Yeah, talk about it at the cocktail party, or at the barbecue.

Lynsey: Sell propane and propane accessories.

Scott: I’ve been blown away by the hallway conversations, and everybody’s like, “How’s it going,” and “What are we doing?” And just really excited about it, and where it’s going to lead is really exciting. So I think, at the end of the day, it’s a small beginning to what could be a larger part, and you have to have a portfolio approach as a company, but it’s pretty cool. Super AmeriGas, yeah.

Lynsey: It is.

Bill: So here we are, it’s Cynch, it’s fueled by AmeriGas, so let’s talk about the process of building the concept, the brand, the business model, and where we are today. I know it has launched very recently, taking advantage of at least the second part of the summer season in this market.

Scott: I think we’re in week three?

Bill: Week three.

Lynsey: Week four? Yeah, week four.

Scott: Week four, okay.

Bill: We wanted to rush this up because we’ve been so impressed, just in our own lives as consumers and people, we’ve run into it in so many venues. It may just be that every place you are happens to be where I naturally go, podcast, the Phillies, other things-

Lynsey: Naturally, naturally.

Bill: But either way, it’s definitely making waves. So, first of all, Propane Taxi did exist, there was a name, there was a brand, it was in four markets, as noted. Talk a little bit about the process of brand development. First of all, why it made sense to think differently as opposed to Propane Taxi by AmeriGas, which it’s not. Talk about some internal decision-making around building this thing.

Lynsey: Yeah, it’s not that we didn’t like Propane Taxi or anything like that, it was a great brand, it was a strong brand, and it was something where it is what it is.

Bill: Very descriptive.

Lynsey: Propane Taxi, it’s a taxi service, pretty much.

Bill: Sometimes that’s helpful for something that’s new.

Lynsey: Exactly. So I think for AmeriGas, we tend to get into our own world here, and we wanted to do, because the service was a different direction than what we typically go in, we wanted to do the same thing with the brand. Make it a little bit more, because it is end-consumer, make it a little bit more sexy, different, go a little bit out of the box, but still keeping that brand piece to what it is, which is, it’s a service.

Lynsey: So, working with you guys, Finch, it made sense, we were working with you on the AmeriGas side, I was in a bunch of meetings with you, and when we came to the table and decided-

Bill: Stayed awake, impressively, in meetings with us.

Lynsey: Yeah, I know. But no, when we came together, I loved working with you guys, and I loved the way that you were thinking, and the process you were thinking about it was different than how we typically do things. So, it was a natural fit, and the questions you were asking were difficult to answer, some of them were, because one, even for Scott and Johnny on their side, and I’m not going to try to speak for you, but it were those types of things that it made you question and think about really what you’re doing, and how you’re going to be doing it, and how you’re going to be portraying it to the customer.

Lynsey: So, I credit you guys for going that deep with us, and I think that’s how we got to this point today, which ended up being Cynch, which was a service-focused name. It’s a cinch, it’s easy, it’s easy to order, I can only use the word easy, it’s a cinch. And then bringing the logo piece into it, we matched the service with the product, so with the flame, if you haven’t looked at it, you should probably look it up. It’s pretty cool.

Bill: It is cool.

Lynsey: With the flame, we are a propane company, we fuel your grill, we create the flame. So bringing that service and that product with the name and the logo just made sense. So, Scott-

Bill: We appreciate the kind words, and it was an honor for us to play even a small part in this, but yeah. So Scott came with Propane Taxi, but saw a strategic need, potentially, with…

Scott: Yeah, I think we just came on board right after the process was started, and I wasn’t protective with the name Propane Taxi, even though I could’ve been, or should’ve been, or whatever. And the reason was is a couple things. One is, first of all, there’s no right answer when you’re coming up with a new name, and you could ask 100 people and get 100 different opinions. But one of the things that… some of the design criteria that we were struggling with in all these whiteboard sessions is Propane Taxi, it’s a very descriptive name, which is helpful for somethings, but it also boxes you in. If you do anything outside of propane it gets really difficult.

Bill: Yeah, sure.

Scott: Taxi can be confusing to some people, believe it or not. They think you’re a taxi service.

Lynsey: Taxi service!

Scott: But the reason why I think it really made sense to really think about it from branding the service like Lynsey said, in Cynch, it’s fueled by AmeriGas, and the power of a AmeriGas name, that’s well-known, established. I mean, you are still getting your propane, something that is a flammable gas, you want that assurance that it’s not Billy with a pickup truck delivering on the side and whatnot. This is a fully certified… the backing and reputation of a large company. So to bring that in and combine it with a brand that’s light, fun, we can establish the personality, those were some of the design criteria that really helped us come to a new name.

Scott: And Cynch, which as Lynsey said, “It’s a Cynch.” So it elicits a feeling of, what part of the process is, what feeling do people have when they order their tank, when they get their tank delivered, when they use it, and you’re thinking, “Propane, no one thinks about this,” but no, there is still a feeling that you do, and to tap into that. And we went through, of course, a bunch of names, and we can talk about that, but when it came down to the ordering process and the using process, yeah, it was a Cynch.

Bill: And so the name is C-Y-N-C-H, obviously cinch means easy, C-Y is a reference to cylinders, which is really what we’re…

Scott: We don’t tell people that, but you know.

Bill: It’s an industry term, right.

Lynsey: It’s our own little Easter egg.

Bill: Yeah, exactly, for people who get it or figure it out. Now, Fueled by AmeriGas, to your point, from a strategic brand architecture perspective, it made sense to create the trust within that link, but also create the distance, so it wasn’t just another old legacy service model here. The offering itself so, I believe picks up tanks from any company. Talk a little bit about how it works, and what one does, and how you’re choreographing the experience for consumers.

Lynsey: I mean, yeah.

Scott: Go ahead.

Lynsey: I’ll probably start and then you’ll elaborate, which is good.

Scott: Okay.

Lynsey: Yeah, no, the basic idea is you can order your propane tanks online, and we’re going to come and deliver it to your home. That is it, that is the core of what we do. We wanted it to be exactly what the brand name was, which was a Cynch, easy, simple, and creating a website around it to only be three pages. You type in your delivery address, we tell you if you’re in our service area or not right up front, then you go to the next page and you say if you want an exchange or a spare, and then you type out, or I shouldn’t say you type out. You select your delivery date from our list. You pick which day you want us to come and deliver it to you. You pick where you want to leave your tank out: by your front door, by your garage, or if you’re getting just a spare tank, where you want us to drop the tank, front door or garage. And then you go and order like you would order a t-shirt online and have it delivered. We literally take care of the rest.

Bill: You pick up the empty, or the old tank.

Lynsey: Yeah, we pick up your old tank.

Bill: From any brand?

Lynsey: Yeah.

Bill: So if it’s a-

Lynsey: Any brand whatsoever.

Bill: … Blue Rhino, or if someone’s rented it out…

Scott: It has the same price of going and doing it yourself, so this is-

Lynsey: Yeah, it’s $19.99, I mean it’s-

Bill: Yeah, you can’t beat it.

Scott: It’s a little bit of a no-brainer, and every time we talk to people they’re like, “Why wouldn’t you use this service,” because they’ll tell you, everyone has a horror story of exchanging their cylinder, whether it’s ripping their car seat, getting it dirty, or forgetting to do it, or waiting until the last minute, so it’s just a convenience that you do. Amazon Prime has let everybody know that you can get anything delivered, and you can probably get it delivered the next day, or second-day. And so that’s the world we live in, it’s been dictated to everybody else, so no matter what business you run, you better be able to deliver. And all retailers are dealing with this right now, right?

Bill: No, it’s true.

Scott: You can’t pick a retailer that isn’t being involved with this, being “Amazoned,” as the word may be, and so it’s the customer expectation and we’re meeting it. And it’s just an advantage now that you don’t have to lug that tank around.

Bill: Right, no question, and I think to your point, one of the maxims that I’ve probably repeated a thousand times on this podcast, but I know is always central to our thinking was, and I guess it was Ted Levin, the professor who said, “People don’t want to buy,” and I’m paraphrasing it, “buy a drill, they want a hole.”

Scott: That’s right.

Bill: So, it would’ve been very easy to focus, and Propane Taxi may have actually done this a little bit, to your point about making differences, on the thing. People don’t want to buy, or really care that they’re buying propane or they’re buying a cylinder. What they want to buy is a successful barbecue, or a level of peace of mind, or an ability-

Scott: Fun.

Bill: Yeah, and I think some of the tagline work in go-to-market stuff, “Fueling your fun,” has been really focused on painting that picture, not just, “Hey, here’s a thing,” but here’s what enables you to do it, here’s the benefit of not having to worry about it, checking it off your list.

Lynsey: Yeah, if you’re having a barbecue on the weekend, you’re going to get your groceries delivered, maybe, probably, I mean I would.

Bill: If you’re in town, yeah.

Lynsey: And the fact is, if you didn’t have propane, you would have to go the store and be like, “Well I’m here now, so I’m just going to go and get my groceries, I’m going to do my propane, I’m going to spend an hour or two in the grocery store getting things done.” But then you go home and you have a thousand other things you have to do around the house, especially if you have a family, and it’s just one of those things where it’s like, you can get your groceries delivered, now you can get your propane delivered. There’s no need for you to even step outside other than to set up your party, or whatever you’re doing that weekend, or spend time with your family, spend time with your friends. We’re trying to just give you a little bit of your time back. We’re not trying to say you’re lazy or anything like that, but we want to make sure that you know that you don’t have to worry about this anymore. We’re going to worry about it for you.

Bill: Mm-hmm

Scott: Right, and we have the liberty with being tied to cookouts and fun, and… To have fun with the brand, we don’t have to bring this serious… it’s not a large financial transaction for someone, they’re not picking a financial planner, they’re not picking a doctor, something that’s a consultative sales process, let’s just have fun with it. And so, wrapping ourselves around the backyard fun, and we’re just establishing the brand, but you’re talking about AmeriGas and it had had to establish itself as a safe, secure, reliable utility that delivers propane. All makes sense.

Scott: With Cynch, we have the opportunity to really take that and build on it with a fun, fresh, personality. If we can make someone smile while they’re receiving their propane or ordering, that’s the best, or while they think about it. It’s an easy concept, it’s not hard to use, so we don’t have a lot of explaining to do, so a lot of the things we can do are actually fun, which is-

Lynsey: You give a voice.

Scott: And when you don’t take yourself seriously, that’s the best thing you can do. And a lot of brands, they get wrapped up in their own selves and they take themselves seriously and they forget that customers aren’t thinking about you all the time.

Bill: Well that’s funny, the brand personality just launched, it’s up on Instagram. It is very fun, and there’s a little bit of self-deprecation there, I mean this isn’t brain surgery, but it can ruin your day if you don’t think about it. So some of the posts, there’s a really cool graphic where there’s a Chinese delivery box, and it said, “This gets delivered,” and then there’s the other half of it, it’s the propane tank, it said, “Now this does too, woo.” The personality seems intentionally fun and light.

Lynsey: Yeah, and that’s what we were going for. The thing is, to Scott’s point, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, it’s propane. Our focus is, and I’m going to take some stuff from our social media company, we try not to focus on the product itself but what you can do with the product.

Bill: Right, absolutely.

Lynsey: So those types of things, fueling into the barbecue, fueling into patio heating, I mean you can brew beer with propane, all these different kinds of things that you can do that you just don’t normally think about that are powered off of propane, we’re bringing to the surface to say, “You can run all this stuff off propane, your fire pits, all that good stuff, have a good time, but don’t worry about thinking about having to go to the store to get it.” We wanted to definitely keep this very lighthearted.

Scott: What was it-

Lynsey: One of our things was like, “Ben Franklin didn’t invent propane, but we did, so there.”

Scott: So there.

Lynsey: Yeah, it’s supposed to be fun, it’s not supposed to be anything too serious.

Bill: No, absolutely, that comes across. So in terms of the model, it launched a couple weeks ago. What is the current delivery area? I know there’s a promo code, how are you planning on rolling this out, scaling it? You have some experience, Scott, from Propane Taxi, but talk a little bit about what the, at least, envisioned launch cadence is going to be like.

Scott: Oh, sure, so I’ll take this first, and Lynsey you fill in the gaps.

Lynsey: Yeah, you go ahead.

Scott: So, like all business, you have to get out of the starting gate. You can think and plan forever, but sometimes you just have to ship. There’s podcasts about “You’re not in business until you actually shipped.” So we started, and we launched Cynch in the Philadelphia area, which is nice, it’s the home area of AmeriGas, and we cover the greater Philadelphia area on the Pennsylvania side, and yes New Jersey, yes Delaware, we’re coming!

Lynsey: We are. We promise, I’m sorry!

Scott: It’s just funny that you launch, and we’re in a pretty generous area. I say from the three Ds, Downingtown to Doylestown to Downtown. I don’t know if I made that up, but it’s the three D town-

Lynsey: Did you just make that up right now? That is super impressive.

Scott: No, I made it up last week when someone asked me, so-

Bill: Nice. Northern Virginia guy-

Lynsey: You should’ve just said you made it up just now and sound so…

Bill: … figuring out the geography, yeah, see.

Scott: And people not in the Philadelphia area listening to the podcast, that’s a pretty generous area, going out to the exurbs, as they would say. But we’re just starting, because what we do is, we do want to cover a really generous area with great delivery options. Right now we deliver a lot of free standard delivery days for those areas in the week. We want to roll out next-day service for everyone, same-day service, so this product really goes, and you know Amazon is rolling out same-day, so you can order your cylinder or your tank and then get it the same day. And then we even want to roll out what we call on-demand, which is, “I’m out of gas and I have a problem.”

Bill: Yeah, holy crap, right?

Scott: I might be three beers into my cookout, not a good idea to go, and we can be there within minutes. Now this is all our roadmap, and not only do we-

Bill: Yeah, that’s a scale issue, right?

Scott: And then Philadelphia is of course just the beach head for us. We want to be nationwide in all the major metro markets, so our plans are to open up dozens of cities over the immediate future here. So, we’re working out the kinks, both operationally, both on our platform, but it just gets better every release that we do, it just gets better. So if you visited us already, please come back and check us out in a couple months. You’d be surprised what you’ll find.

Lynsey: Yeah, seriously.

Bill: Yeah, it sounds like a launch, you got a launch, and then from there so much learning and opportunity to progress, to grow, to refine, et cetera. Marketing-wise, as I said, it’s everywhere, at least where I go. It’s almost like it maybe is following me, like the cloud over one of the Peanuts characters, but in this case a ray of sunshine.

Lynsey: That’s good!

Bill: Yeah, right. But talk a little bit about, and I’m sure we’re just trying a bunch of things to see what sticks, but little bit of thoughts around the launch marketing that’s been-

Lynsey: Yeah, we have a lot of things going right now, and half of that is the brand awareness piece, which is you need to make sure your brand is out there in a great way. And working with great vendors, we know… Going into this we were like, we can promote it all we want on our end, but nobody knows it but us. We need to work with people that are well-known in the Philly area who have a voice, who have a following, who genuinely would probably use this service. I mean, they do, which is great, and they’ve voiced their opinions that they really do love it and use it. Working with people like the Phillies and 6abc, and now Spike Eskin, you were talking about the podcast.

Bill: Yeah, right, I had listened to it this morning, yeah.

Lynsey: Exactly, yeah. Working with people like that, it’s nice because they give a genuine feel to the service, that it’s not just, Oh, you got to do this because we said so,” it’s more like, “No, you got to do this because why wouldn’t you go do this.” We’re giving you an easier option to live your life. So it’s those types of things that we’re trying to get out there, and we’re trying-

Scott: We have some educating to do.

Lynsey: Yeah, absolutely.

Scott: When we picked Cynch as a name-

Lynsey: Oh yeah.

Scott: … it’s not a descriptive name, you don’t here cinch-

Lynsey: And think propane.

Scott: … and know it’s a propane. And that was a conscious decision we did during the process, so we knew our first wave of marketing would have to be educational. We couldn’t just start being playful with the name Cynch because no-one knows what it is yet. So instead of our tag, we don’t have creative taglines. Right now it’s Home-Delivery Propane, or tank… Actually I’m messing that up.

Lynsey: Grill Tank Home Delivery.

Scott: Grill Tank Home Delivery. The whole point is you have to be descriptive so when someone sees Cynch, then you immediately… And I don’t think we’ve earned a right yet to play off of Cynch yet. So a lot of education right now, and at the end of the day, we’re making people change their behavior.

Bill: Yeah, right.

Scott: So it’s educational. Change your behavior. Those are the kind of things that we did. And you mentioned a promo code. We’re actually, to have people change their behavior, we’re saying, “Hey, try it out for a $10 tank,” which is, of course, lower than you’re going to find anywhere else, but it’s just too… We know that once you do it, you’re going to not want to go back to the other way, it’s cumbersome, right? You’re going to find someone at a store, you got to put it in your car, you’re waiting for some clerk to come out and open a cage for you. All bad things, right?

Scott: So we know once you do it, you’re going to stick with the program, and there’s no commitments or anything like that, so it’s… You know, try it out, I think what did we say, Cynch10, C-Y-N-C-H 10-

Lynsey: C-Y-N-C-H 10

Scott: … is a promo code that’s active right now.

Lynsey: $10 for your first tank exchange.

Scott: There you go.

Bill: C-Y-N-C-H 10.

Lynsey: Yes.

Scott: There you go.

Bill: For all you listeners, I’ll repeat it again in the intro and in the outro. But it seems, to the point about some of the things that we’ve been doing, that there is an experimental quality. So the podcast’s an emerging medium, although it has emerged, it continues to emerge from certain authentic voices, but then you see more traditional things like the sponsorship of the Phillies, then you see more progressive things like a very strong social presence. There was a sponsorship, I think, of some of the larger concert series around the 4th that we saw.

Lynsey: Yeah, with the Summer Concert Series partner, yeah.

Bill: So we see Cynch around a lot, yeah.

Lynsey: Yeah, it’s doing those things where it’s like, you know people are watching, you know people are listening, you know people are hearing, so we need to be where they’re listening, watching, and paying attention to, so it’s-

Scott: We’re trying to, of course target-

Lynsey: Oh yeah, we target, absolutely, but to our credit, we’re trying to be where when you need us, we’re there, because it is very much, to Scott’s point, it is changing buyer behavior, but it’s also being there when you run out of propane so you don’t have to think, “Oh, I got to run to the store.” You’re like, “Oh, I saw that Cynch commercial-

Scott: That’s a great point.

Lynsey: … I saw that Cynch ad, I should just really try this right now, right on my phone.” I was at a barbecue this past weekend, and I was talking to the owner of the home, our friend, and he was like, “Oh yeah, that’s right. How is that working out?” He ran out of propane.

Scott: Staged! You came and emptied it.

Lynsey: I’m not even telling you right now, this is not staged. I swear, he ran out of propane. He had a second tank, but I was like, “Why don’t you just use it right now?” And he was like, “Oh, do you guys service me?” And I was like, “Yeah, we do.” He ordered it right on his phone, right when he was cooking.

Scott: We got to send Lynsey to all these events to-

Lynsey: I mean, I didn’t mind this, free food for me.

Scott: … personal advocacy, and food, right.

Lynsey: Yeah no, but I kid you not, I’m not plugging that. It was so true.

Scott: You know, marketing is a little tough because the majority of homeowners, single-family homeowners, have a grill. So you can get caught up in that, it’s hard to target, right? Yeah, it’s a mass market product, so it’s not that traditional. Let’s find the niche people and where are they and what associations they belong to, and then go into their trade conferences. That doesn’t exist. It’s sort of a mass market appeal, which there’s great news about that, because our market is big, but for marketing, where do you begin? And that’s very difficult, so some of those choices that we’ve made out of the gate are trying to target the traditional grillers.

Scott: Obviously, it still tends to be the man in the household that is in charge of getting the propane because it’s a dirty, clumsy experience. We actually hope to not only include the men, but transition that to where women, who tend to order more online, take over, if you will, this purchase. And so, we are starting from our strength, which is the men and single-family homeowners, but really, from there, it can expand, right?

Lynsey: It’s for anybody.

Bill: Obviously, when you go into market 10 or 12, the model will probably be sharper, and you’ll learn a lot along the way about the target and about different vehicles to reach them.

Lynsey: Yeah, and I mean for the technologically challenge too, sorry not to-

Bill: Yeah, no, please.

Lynsey: But for the technologically challenged people, we have… If you sign up for an account, you can order for other people. You can order for your parents, you can order for your grandparents, so you don’t have to worry about it. My parents order for my grandparents. It’s something that they don’t have to worry about, and my parents know that my grandma’s not going to break her back. I mean, my grandma wouldn’t do it, my pappy would, but it’s one of those things where we’re offering this service not only to help you, but to help your family and to help the people that one, don’t even have smartphones or computers but don’t know how to use them. So we’re trying to give everybody an option to get to them.

Scott: Yeah.

Bill: That’s terrific. I’ve kept you already longer than we promised-

Lynsey: Sorry!

Bill: But again, so interesting, and we were honored to play a meager role in all that you’ve built and are doing. Let’s end where we normally do, and through this experience or your career journey up to this point, are there any words to live by or lessons that you’ve taken out that are important to you and how you think about building Cynch or just your own progression as a businessperson that our audience might be inspired by?

Scott: There’s a lot of advice we could give, but on a creative side, and this is something that I think you guys were good on this process to is, I’ve been around enough to know when a lot of times you’re in a business and you want to think creative, they get in a pretty small box and they don’t want to… They have a strong opinion and they have a hard time letting go of that. And I’ve always been amazed when I let creative people be creative. You have an opinion, the joke was if AmeriGas didn’t, there was going to be AmeriGas Home Delivery, or Propane Home Delivery, which is not even a brand, right? But it was descriptive.

Scott: But let them go, and say… I always push back, and in the process it was like, “Hey, what do you guys like? What do you think about this, what do you think about this?” I’m like, “You know what? Green field, just go. Surprise us.” Because that is something that you would probably get an answer that you would never have thought of yourself. And you can always build on that, you can always say no to that, but if you lock it in too early, you’re not opening up the proverbial hourglass to really get something to where you never thought you would’ve gotten to before. So, let creative people be creative, and let them go, and they will amaze you.

Bill: Yeah, that’s great. Anything, Lynsey, you want to add to that, or?

Lynsey: From my perspective, being a 27-year-old female in the propane industry, shocking.

Bill: Flocking, they’re flocking to propane.

Lynsey: Flocking. I knew this was my job from day one, no. It’s admitting that you don’t know everything and always learning, and I’ve told Scott and Johnny this too, even when they came on board. I’ve learned so much from the two of them in the last couple of months working with them, I can’t believe it’s been months, it hasn’t even been a year yet. I feel like I’ve known you guys for like 10 years.

Scott: When you’re in trenches, you know?

Lynsey: Yeah, right? But it’s always learning and always trying new things, and listening to people and not trying to oversell something that you’re not fully confident in. It’s a lot of things that I feel like millennials get flagged for, but it’s true. We don’t know everything, believe it or not, and from my perspective, I’m learning every single day, and I love every second of it. You’re always building on your character.

Bill: Awesome. Well that’s a great place to leave it. We’ve been so grateful, Scott and Lynsey, for your time and for your partnership throughout this process. We’re so excited to see what Finch… Cynch, Finch, whatever it is.

Lynsey: Cynch and Finch, what?

Bill: Yeah, a slip. What Cynch becomes. We encourage all of our listeners, of course, to give it a shot. Cynch10, right, it’s the C-Y-N-C-H 10 is the promo code.

Lynsey: Cynch10, yeah.

Bill: And I think this will go up, we’re recording this on Thursday, so it’s probably going to go up next Tuesday, that’ll still be good at that time?

Lynsey: Yeah, no, you’re all good. All through the rest of 2019, so.

Bill: Excellent!

Lynsey: Cynch10, $10 for your first tank exchange.

Scott: Perfect.

Lynsey:, C-Y-N-C-H dot com.

Bill: Give it a shot

Scott: It was a pleasure.

Lynsey: Yeah it was awesome, thank you.

Bill: Thanks for having me.

Lynsey: Appreciate it.

Bill: Thanks to Scott and Lynsey, not only for their time and insight today, but being part of something that’s certainly going to simplify my life, as someone who’s had, I don’t even know really how to check how much propane I have. I know, I think, if you put your finger on it, the difference in temperature, et cetera, but I’ve certainly been caught in the past, and so very, very glad that Cynch is here. It’s also an interesting story about how startups, as well as large companies, innovate differently and in parallel. And so, hoping that Cynch is as successful as we think it is cool.

Bill: As always, bunch of different ways to help us here at Real-World Branding. Let’s go super simple. Three Rs: rate, respond, review. Give us a rating, respond with ideas, comments, criticisms via Twitter, @billgullan or @FinchBrands, and review. Get in there and give is five stars if we deserve it. We’re told that’s what helps us increase our visibility and connect with new folks who might find value, and we want to do this every other week. Interviews with brand and business builders. We’ve been okay the last little while with that schedule and we’re certainly grateful for the time that you spend with us and for any comments that you’ve provided thereafter. And so I’ll sign off from the Cradle of Liberty.

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