Three Things Your Customers Want From Suppliers


Truckstop operators don't want to just sell products; they want to sell a lot of them. Operators know their suppliers have the expertise that could help take their sales to the next level, so Highway Business Matters talked with truckstop owners and managers to learn three things they'd like to see from their vendors.

Operators said they welcome input on new products and proven favorites, but like when vendors take it a step further and offer suggestions for merchandising those items.

"The way to sell the most product is for them to help us with how to display it," said Bobby Berkstresser, owner of Lee Hi Travel Plaza in Lexington, Va.

Berkstresser recently revamped his coffee program and chose a vendor that would provide more than just coffee. "I found a company that will come in and help you with your backdrops, counter layout and menu boards," he said. "We'll pay for the design and the counters, but they will tell us what we need."

Allen Burns, general manager of West Winds Truck Stop, Green River, Utah, said he would "love input on in-store displays." He recently rearranged a peanut display and has seen sales increase dramatically.

"It was an eight-foot move from peanuts hanging on the pegs to a promotional stand by the cash register and it makes a huge difference. We can't keep peanuts in it."

A Relationship
Operators agreed that they prefer to do business with suppliers that get to know them. "I want to buy from those vendors that want to come in and do the things we all need to be successful," said John Langley, travel center director of Golden Acorn Casino and Travel Center in Campo, Calif. "They know the more I sell the more I buy."

"The most useful thing is if they came to see our operation," said Burns. "When they come in and see our layout, our clientele and what we have across the street from us, they might have other ideas for products that will work for us."

West Winds also serves as the Greyhound bus depot, which Burns said could present additional opportunities. "Our suppliers may see that and say, 'Oh those guys are only there for 15 minutes, here is something you can do just for them.'"

One-on-One Time
Sean Flynn, owner of Flynn's Truck Plaza in Shrewsbury, Mass., said he would like to work with sales reps to streamline the inventory process.

"A lot of the times the sales rep comes out and spends most of the time with you placing the order," said Flynn. "Instead of spending time ordering, we should be able to utilize his expertise and see what items are selling, what aren't and how we could move things to see if we can increase sales."

Langley told NATSO vendors who take the time to recommend new products and find unique offerings not only help secure repeat business, but earn his as well. For example, one of his hot food vendors frequently brings in ideas for new menu items. "We'll cook it and give out samples," he said. "As long as he is always trying, I'm always buying."

{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:
Flynn's Truck PlazaGolden Acorn CasinoLee Hi Travel PlazaWest Winds Truck Stop

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