Compliance: Your Secret Weapon to Crush the Competition

Posted by Sue Spolan on 2017-06-29

Money disappears when no one’s looking. The cost of EPA compliance is often folded into other budget items. But when you take a look into the actual costs of compliance, the expense can escalate quickly.

On the low side is a $20,000 fine resulting from a failed spot check. If you let a leak go until the point of groundwater contamination, the bill can turn into millions of dollars.

New efficiencies in compliance monitoring save a lot of money and time.

The Big Compliance Picture

It’s no longer an option to ignore the cost of compliance. Do you fully understand the size of your compliance costs? If you’re like your peers in the industry, you may not have done much to address and reduce this aspect of your operating expenses.

But EPA rules set to take effect in 2018 expand UST safety requirements and keep the focus on compliance. These new safety rules uncover inefficiencies through added inspection requirements and new documentation guidelines that can substantially increase compliance costs.

Maintaining compliance affects your entire organization. Field techs and office staff all share the burden of compliance data gathering, reporting and environmental remediation. How do you put a dollar value on the entire process, especially when you take into account delays, inefficient practices and other wasted efforts?

An alarm incident triggers a $500 tech visit. How many times does that tech return to address the unresolved alarm? Pretty quickly, those bills add up to $10,000.

A miniscule crack goes undetected for months. Every day, a little more gas leaks out of the UST. Seems like a tiny problem, until it isn’t. According to the EPA, soil remediation costs a minimum of $25,000 for a small extent release. Groundwater contamination can run up a $428,000 bill.

And that’s just for one station.

Before 2018 regulations hit, take a moment to review your current approach to compliance with an eye to reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Reduce expenses now while preparing for the future.

How to Reduce Costs and Increase Compliance

There are three ways to increase your margins:

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When profits rely on highly competitive pricing, there is little wiggle room for boosting revenues. That’s why you need to turn to other available solutions.

Eliminate complexity, reduce waste and improve standardization to eliminate the variables of your current compliance processes. And you cut costs. Here are just two examples of common fines:

An EPA inspector performing a spot check is a fine waiting to happen. Issues with equipment and gaps in reporting can lead to an instant $20,000 fine. When a UST alarm sounds and there’s no immediate resolution, multiple tech visits add up to tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Five questions to address inefficiencies

  1. What tasks can we eliminate, simplify or reduce to save time and compliance costs while reducing risk?
  2. Are there tools available that boost alignment across work management, asset management and integrity management?
  3. What will help with delays, repeated work and errors caused by false information or poor communication between functions or with service providers?
  4. How can we standardize compliance practices for legacy organizations, acquired operations and peer companies?
  5. Can we utilize new technologies or third-party services to reduce compliance costs and minimize risk?

A comprehensive approach to overhauling your compliance

Once you have collected some data on inefficiencies, it’s time to:

• Define the benefits, risk and cost of improvements

• Solicit the opinion of key personnel to determine obstacles

• Identify KPIs to measure performance

• Define the value proposition of proposed changes

• Analyze benefits versus effort

• Estimate resources and capabilities you need to move forward

• Set up a timeline and assign responsibilities

Take the time now to review your approach to compliance so that you don’t scramble to comply in the future. Align your processes, people and technology to reduce the cost and enhance the effectiveness of your compliance efforts. You will be rewarded with a sustainable source of competitive advantage that will serve you well into the future.

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