Keeping Membership and Patronage Accurate
January 20, 2018
Written By Adam Buckallew
MFA Oil’s farmer-owners will soon receive their patronage checks in the mail, and there’s one department members can thank. The company’s Records Services department is responsible for not only mailing equity and patronage checks, but also keeping membership information up-to-date and maintaining other customer-related paperwork.
Any customer who is involved in production agriculture or who owns land used for agricultural purposes and buys at least $1,000 of product from MFA Oil Company during its fiscal year meets the qualifications for membership. MFA Oil members are eligible to receive patronage refunds based upon a percentage of their total money spent with the cooperative’s bulk fuel and propane operations or at Petro-Card 24 locations. Records Services monitors which accounts belong to members and tags them accordingly to ensure patronage is properly calculated.
Managing the disbursement of patronage checks, which are mailed out every February, is one of the department’s biggest projects. Records Services deals with tens of thousands of accounts tagged for patronage and recently implemented a new consolidation measure to create a smoother and more efficient method for mailing its large volume of checks annually.
“We used to send out two separate checks for equity and patronage to MFA Oil members,” says Lora Sedgwick, MFA Oil records services supervisor. “After combining the two in a lump sum check, we were able to reduce the number of checks mailed from 75,000 to 50,000 per year, which significantly saves time, money and effort.”
While all members appreciate precise management of their patronage accounts, maintaining up-to-date addresses and contact information is just as important.
One of the main goals of Records Services is to maintain clean and accurate address records of all MFA Oil customers and members. The department is reliant upon account holders notifying the company of any changes. Frequently, address changes are communicated to personnel in the field, who then forward the information to Records Services.
“Keeping account and patronage information up-to-date, as well as verifying members’ tax-exempt status, are all contingent on individuals notifying us of updates,” Sedgwick says. “That’s why it’s important for our membership to communicate with us if they move or have other important changes that could affect their account.”
Another way the department finds out about address changes is through returned monthly statements. Undeliverable statements are often returned with a forwarding address attached. MFA Oil’s credit department sorts through the statements and passes along changes of address to the records team.
Ensuring member and customer accounts have the proper tax paperwork on file is another important function of Records Services. Applying tax exemptions to accounts enables farmers and ranchers to purchase dyed diesel fuel for agricultural purposes without paying sales tax.
“We try to help as much as we can and in as timely a manner as possible,” Sedgwick says. “We’re always available to answer any questions.”