Ms. Prudy Bennett of Home Oil Shares Her Story
There were days when Prudy’s dad would bring work home for her do. She remembers these times fondly sharing that “he’d pay me a nickel and I’d work myself to death to make ten dollars.” However, most days, she’d do her work at the Home Oil office under the wise, instructive guidance of her mother. Prudy said, “Back then it was all paper and ink ledgers,” which Prudy’s mother used to patiently teach her how to balance the company’s books.
Over time, Ms. Prudy learned all the ins and outs of the petroleum distribution business from her parents. It was clear that her path with Home Oil was set in stone after she married, and her parents invited new husband, Carey, to “come on board” with the business. These were happy times that Prudy recalls with gratitude.
This was Home Oil’s first foray into using technology to automate their processes. Prudy shares, “It sped things up, but we still had to add things manually to get it balanced.” As her mother got older, Prudy took on more and more of the bookkeeping duties. Once her parents passed, Prudy and her husband took over Home Oil and all the happy memories that transpired there.
Prudy’s even passing Home Oil’s legacy on to her daughter, Kristen, whom she describes as, “AWESOME.” Her daughter also grew up hanging out and working at the business. Ms. Prudy says, “It’s just wonderful being with family and getting to see each other every day. We all got along great and still do.” Currently, she’s teaching her daughter everything she knows and is LOVING the process.
In the early 90’s, Prudy and Carey started hearing more about computer automation and its positive benefits. They started looking into ways to automate their accounting processes but weren’t familiar with the logistics involved. In walked AIMS with their COMPAS 7.0 accounting software.
Where and how AIMS walked into Prudy’s life remains a bit of a mystery. According to Prudy, “I heard about them probably at a LOMA trade show or a cold call from ‘Father Al’ [aka Al Peterson], who came and gave us a presentation and showed us what the software could do.” They were impressed and purchased the software. Home Oil has been with AIMS ever since.
Over the course of their relationship, they’ve gone through a couple of software upgrades starting in 1999 with COMPAS 8.0 and then moving to Commander in 2009. Each new version brought greater features and functionality that helped Home Oil become more and more successful.
Prudy makes a joke when she describes their ongoing relationship with AIMS. “It was always easier to stay than leave.” She cracks up and adds, “Only because they make it easy to stay with them. They’ve been so helpful and quick to help with any accounting issue over all these years. They’re always kind, knowledgeable, and available to answer on the spot. Now there’s email, but I’m old school and still like to call a warm body and they’re always there, just a phone call away.” It’s obvious that Prudy and AIMS have built a strong, family-like bond over the past 28+ years.
Here are her top nuggets of wisdom:
- Keep your sense of humor. You’ll need a “lot of laughs” to deal with the ebbs and flows inherent in being a business owner regardless of the industry. “You just have to put your heart into your business and remember this too shall pass. Whatever you run into, take it on and let it go.”
- Keep on learning the business. “It’s a lot of live and learn but your relationships with your employees and your clients are key.” Keep them both happy. Take care of clients when they call. Good service is what it’s all about. If they can get the fuel this day or for sure the next, do it.”
- Keep on maturing as an owner. “Do what you say and say what you do. Do your work as it comes in. Don’t procrastinate! Be sure to never stop living, learning, and applying yourself.”
- Keep on investing in technology. The positive benefits will pay off! “Technology has advanced so much and will continue to. Hats off to AIMS for keeping up with technology. It’s just a learning experience every day.”
Given how important humor is to being a successful business owner, it’s no wonder that Ms. Prudy picked out the now infamous Home Oil slogan, “Passing Gas Since 1928.”
According to Prudy, this slogan has been Home Oil’s greatest marketing achievement, which is saying a lot since they have no website and operate almost exclusively by word-of-mouth referrals. She laughs again. “People LOVE it.”