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NATSO Blog: Marketing & Retail

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Grow Sales at Your Travel Center with an Apparel Program

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Do you have an apparel program? If you do, are you doing all you can with it? If you don’t, it is time to get in this category. Apparel, when done correctly in our industry, can have margins of 50 to 100 percent profit depending on what types of products you’re selling and what you buy.

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Review Holiday Sales to Uncover New Opportunities at Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

The fourth quarter and holiday season has come and gone, and now that the dust has settled, it is a great time to review how things went. Holiday sales at many retailers exceeded expectations. Was that the case for you? Were you prepared or are there things you wish you’d done differently?

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Truckstop Travels: Lessons from the Road

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

I am so fortunate to get to visit truckstops and travel plazas across the country and see first-hand the ways NATSO members are serving their communities. As we have noted before, operators are witnessing a rapid pace of change and many are responding with new and diverse offerings to attract customers. This need to adapt is not unique to our industry, and during my travels I see first-hand the ways other businesses are reacting to our today’s reality.

We can learn from those outside of our industry in addition to each other. Here are some key trends I am seeing from other businesses working to remain relevant.

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My Top Three Trends from NATSO’s Food and Fuel Tour

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

NATSO’s Food and Fuel Tour offered a field-level look at metro restaurants. As a participant in the study tour, I specifically took away insights on how these innovative foodservice operators are changing how they serve their customers based on millennials.

Millennials are changing the norms of food and beverage consumption as we speak.

Craft Brewing Business reports that 58% of the overall craft beer market is consumed by individuals 35 and younger. Additionally, millennials try 5.1 different craft beer brands per month. This shift in millennial taste preference has resulted in craft brew retail dollar growth of 10% over previous year, as well as craft beer now owning 21.9% share in the beer market.

What does this mean for the truckstop and travel center industry?

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Customize Your Metrics to Drive Performance at Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Metrics are a key component of gauging and improving performance, and truckstop and travel plaza operators often wonder what their stores should be doing based on a particular metric. An example of an often used metric that I was just asked about by an industry consultant and an unrelated individual travel center “what should I expect in retail sales for every gallon of diesel pumped? Well, you have to be careful when applying industry metrics to your specific operations. You’re not always comparing apples to apples and you could be underestimating the capability of what your store could do.

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Do Something Different with QSRs at Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Food sales at truckstops and travel plazas are a crucial profit center as well as a prime way to draw in travelers. We all know that both professional and passenger drivers like trusted names, and the right quick-service restaurant can also be a way to stand out. I encourage operators to look at the QSRs that are already along their routes and try something different. If you have the same food offerings as everyone else, you will be forced to compete on the price of fuel, but food can make you a destination.

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Chicago’s History as a Food-Trend Leader

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Chicago has a long history of being on the cutting edge of food trends, and NATSO members can get an in-depth, guided look at some of today’s hottest food locations during the NATSO Food and Fuel Tour in Chicago July 18-20.

Today’s trends might take off like these six classic food offerings that were once little-known but up-and-coming offerings within the Windy City.

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Explore the Latest Foodservice Trend During Food and Fuel Study Tour: Food Halls

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Food halls—modern-day food courts with high-end, quality food offerings—are continuing to grow throughout the country as today’s consumers gravitate towards fast, fresh meals as well as an overall dining experience. Food halls go beyond food and many offer a retail experience, artisan products and communal dining under one roof.

“Food halls also reflect the way more Americans are eating these days, allowing for people to sample a lot of different items (a la small plates) in one place,” The Washington Post reported. “They encapsulate the move away from fine dining to casual eating, as well as the growing interest in street food.”

Some food halls are focused on a single ethnic category, such as Italian, while others pull together options from local chefs. Two of the most popular food halls are Eataly and Revival Food Hall, both located in Chicago. The NATSO Foundation will be offering truckstop and travel plaza operators an in-depth look at both locations as part of the NATSO Food and Fuel Study Tour, July 18-20.

Revival Food Hall, a massive, 24,000-square-foot marketplace, is an all-local dining concept spotlighting the best of Chicago’s acclaimed culinary scene under one roof. The location opened in 2016 and has 15 fast-casual stalls featuring many of Chicago’s favorite neighborhood restaurants in a grab-and-go setting. There are also a handful of all-new concepts debuting from several acclaimed Chicago chefs.

During the tour, Marisa Kruse, general manager of Revival Food Hall, will share her insight into the location’s operations. Next attendees will tour Revival Food Hall guided by Darren Schutle, NATSO’s vice president of membership, and Ed Burcher, an industry leader and principal at Burcher Consulting. Attendees will receive gift certificates to use to see the customer experience.

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Learn from Other Operations with These Four Tips

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Sometimes the best inspiration can come from seeing other businesses in action, and knowing what to look for can help operators make the most of a visit to a competitor or a similar business in another industry.

During The NATSO Food and Fuel Study Tour, July 18-20, attendees will have a chance to visit Sapp Brothers Peru and TA Morris as well Revival Food Hall and Eataly, which have been called two of the most innovative foodservice locations in the Windy City. Attendees can also take part in self-guided walking tour at some of the hottest quick-serv locations in Chicago’s loop area.

Whether operators are taking part in NATSO’s tour or visiting locations on their own, Ed Burcher, an industry leader and principal at Burcher Consulting, shared these tips to help operators dig deeper during behind-the-scenes looks at successful businesses in action.

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Improve Your Food Operations with 7 Tips from Food and Fuel Study Study Tour Expert

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Ed Burcher, an industry leader and principle at Burcher Consulting, has spent decades in the c-store and foodservice industries, including WaWa and Coen Markets where he implemented the Neighbours Store at Petro-Canada. He continues to work in the industry today.

Burcher will share his expertise and guide attendees during The NATSO Food and Fuel Study Tour, July 18-20 in Chicago. The NATSO Foundation has handcrafted a customized tour to give operators a behind-the-scenes look into a biodiesel plant, successful travel plaza locations and some of the hottest foodservice locations in Chicago.

Today he shares these tips for operators looking to improve their food offerings.

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