Keep in Touch with Prospective Customers


Industry suppliers working to keeping in touch with prospective customers can walk a fine line between persistent and overly aggressive. Highway Business Matters talked with truckstop and travel plaza operators to get their input on how often and how they like to connect with potential vendors.

Overwhelmingly, operators said they prefer electronic communications. Rex Davis, president of Melvin L. Davis Oil Co. that operates locations in Stony Creek and Warfield, Va., prefers quarterly email correspondence. “I don’t like phone calls just because I get a lot of them, but I’m looking at email all the time,” he said.

The best part of email correspondence for Davis is that he can use it as an electronic file organizer for items that interest him. “You can go back and readily grab the information when you want it, but a voicemail will get dumped after a while and it can be hard to get the information again.”

Dave Shoemaker, president of Shoemaker’s Truck Station in Lincoln, Neb., said he also prefers email and admits he feels some emails come too frequently while others don’t come often enough. “If someone is sending information about existing products, monthly is enough, but if there is something new, they can send information more often,” he said.

Don Quinn, president of Sapp Bros., which operates 16 locations, agreed that email is the best way to get product information in front of key buyers. For Sapp Bros., emails should be targeted to the appropriate department manager, which include the restaurant manager, merchandising (travel store) manager and shop manager.

As travel store manager at the Petro Travel Plaza in Portage, Wisc., Seth Miller, said he carves out time to look at new products each month. In addition to email, Miller said he likes to look over newsletters to learn about new products.

Dirk Binnema, owner of Planeview Travel Plaza, in Oshkosh, Wisc., said he has most of his vendors in place, but he does shop around weekly for pricing. He also does a price comparison with his grocery and automotive suppliers annually.

{HBMHighway Business Matters is a brief semi-monthly newsletter created exclusively for companies that provide products or services to the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Highway Business Matters will keep you informed on trends, tactics, and tips to help you connect to the $65 billion truckstop and travel plaza industry. 

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Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
Highway Business Matters (HBM)
Retailer Featured:
Melvin L. Davis Oil Co.Petro Travel PlazaPlaneview Travel PlazaSapp Bros.Shoemaker’s Truck Station

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