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NATSO Blog: Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators

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Truckstop One-Day Sale: What to Do Day Before, Day of and Day After

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail

One-day sales can be a great way to add excitement to a truckstop and travel plaza locations and spike sales. During the most recent Operational Exchange phone call we discussed the role one-day sales can play during seasonal and/or holiday special events. After the call I received a handful of follow-up questions asking for more details on the concept of a one-day sale, which made me realize operators could use some standard operating procedure guidelines to follow when creating such an event.

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Best of Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators in 2015

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail, Operations

Thanksgiving means pumpkin pie, time to give thanks and if we are lucky a trip out of town with family and friends. As Darren enjoys a much-deserved vacation, I thought I'd guest host with a round-up of his most popular blog posts.

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Master a One-Day Sale with These 16 Tips

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail

One-day sales can be a great way to add excitement to a truckstop and travel plaza locations and spike sales. During the most recent Operational Exchange phone call we discussed the role one-day sales can play during seasonal and/or holiday special events. After the call I received a handful of follow-up questions asking for more details on the concept of a one-day sale, which made me realize operators could use some standard operating procedure guidelines to follow when creating such an event.

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Daily Truckstop Checklist: The Morning Routine

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail, Operations

The start of a new day can be hectic, but this list will help you keep it simple. You don’t need to check something just for the sake of checking it, but here are five key areas to check each morning.

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Before Purchasing New Technology, Use What You Have

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Technology

Technology is such an important word in our culture today, and we often think more and better technology is the solution to whatever challenge we’re facing. During my visits with truckstop and travel plaza operators, many of them tell me they’re thinking of investing in new technology. I always like to dig a little deeper into why.

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What Does Walmart's Advanced Vehicle Experience Mean for Truckstops?

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Fuel and Trucking

The trucking industry is buzzing with news of Walmart's Advanced Vehicle Experience. The truck prototype combines aerodynamics, mictroturbine-hybrid powertrain, electrification, advanced control systems, and cutting edge materials like carbon fiber all in one vehicle with the end goal of drastically improving fuel efficiency.

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How to Know Your Truckstop Customer

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail

I always highlight the importance of knowing your customer and understanding what your customers want, but operators frequently ask me what that means. They also want to know if it is going to be hard and where to start. I always tell them that, no, it isn’t hard, but it takes some time and effort to do it correctly. As so many of our members remind me daily, operators do not know what they do not know. Unless you have been taught how to spacewalk, chances are that when given the opportunity, you will not do well at that activity. So let’s walk through an example process of discovering who your customers are and what they want from you.

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Truckstops Face New, Varied Competition

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Fuel and Trucking, Marketing & Retail

The truckstop and travel plaza industry is facing competition from a number of fronts. Last year in Stop Watch magazine, we covered some of those sources, including grocery stores and restaurants installing gas pumps and home improvement stores adding food offerings.

These and other forms of competition are becoming much more formidable as our customers continue to be starved for time and as vehicles improve their miles per gallon. Not only are drivers stopping less, now more than ever they are looking for the closest, most convenient one-stop shop. Retailers are responding by offering them more opportunities to stop, shop and fuel, which may mean less opportunities in our locations.

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Calculating the ROI in Truckstop Technology Projects

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Technology

When I am out in the field visiting members, they frequently ask me about technology. Operators are often wondering if they should upgrade their pumps or their point-of-sale system, invest in a mobile app, update their web site or purchase digital devices, such as a menu board.

As with any major purchase, business owners also want to know what the return on their investment (ROI) will be, but that isn’t always easy with technology investments.

To start, it is helpful for operators to gather information about the benefits of the technology they are considering, such as increased speed of service for their customers or their employees, which can result in decreased costs and an improved experience.

From there, operators can begin putting a pencil to paper. Let’s say you find new point-of-sale technology that can save employees time counting a till, and it saves you one hour and you’re paying that employee $15 an hour and you have three employees on shift. Now you have a number associated with your return. You may also find that an updated POS system provides a streamlined reporting process, allowing you to take care of it faster, or create a loyalty program that will allow you to establish a correlation of growth. Those are all quantifiable benefits.

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10 Ways To Be A Better Holiday Merchandiser Than Santa Claus

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Marketing & Retail

Yep, the summer drive is not even over and I am beginning to see holiday themes, gifts and toys popping up in big retail. Recently, on a trip overseas, I saw early signs of Christmas shopping at two of England’s landmark retail operations.

So what does that say about your operation?

Do you need to have Santa Claus, Rudolph, and a Christmas tree displays up now? Certainly not, but I hope that you have a plan in place to take advantage of the upcoming holiday season.

Let’s cover a host of items you should have in place already.

1. You have noted on your calendar when your holiday shipments, winter additives and fourth quarter product will be arriving. You have made sure that your staffing needs are appropriately deployed to get this merchandise properly checked in, properly priced and properly displayed as soon as it arrives.

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