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NATSO Blog: Truckstop Business

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Join Me Abroad to Take in New Great Ideas and the Latest Innovations

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Leadership & Strategy

I am a strong advocate for learning all we can from those around us, and I would love for NATSO members to join me in June at the NACS Convenience Summit Europe.

Along with retailers from around the world, I’ll be working my way through London and Amsterdam and will gather ideas and trends to share with truckstop and travel plaza operators when I return.

The tours, which are led by convenience industry experts, are designed to provide a closer look into retail operations and solutions and a deep dive into discussion-based learning.

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4 Best Practices for Long-Term Truckstop Hiring Success

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Human Resources

Truckstops and travel plaza facilities create unique challenges for those who manage them. Unlike many businesses, most truckstops and travel plazas are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and managers must work hard to keep the facility adequately staffed at all times.

A location’s team players are the first and last line of contact for customers in a truckstop and travel plaza, so hiring and training the right team players can significantly affect the profitability of the business. With proper orientation and training, operators can ensure from the very beginning that their team players will succeed.

Here are four tips for long-term hiring success.

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How to Use Billboards to Drive Your Travel Center's Profits Up

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Next time you drive down the Interstate to your facility, look at your signage from the point-of-view of a customer who is visiting for the very first time. Signage is a crucial piece of your business as it serves as an invitation for a customer to stop into your site versus your competitors’ sites!

Interstate billboards give you exposure to large numbers of travelers every day and night. I believe that this is one of the most effective forms of advertising.

Billboard Pricing and ROI
Billboards range in price. Small non-illuminated units may cost $150 to $350 per month. Large illuminated billboards can range from $1,500 to $4,000 per month or more depending on traffic counts and several other factors such as the number of units available in the market, demand for those units and if it is a left- or right-hand read...

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Five Retail Trends Your Truckstop Should Be Adapting to and Exercises to Explore Them

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

In preparation for NATSO Connect, I took a fresh look at the trends influencing the industry. Truckstops and travel plazas should be adapting to each of these trends.

Number 1: Rise of Experiential Retail
According to the article, “The old model of in-store (and even online) retail strictly focused on products being sold. However, consumers have slowly but surely been moving away from strictly shopping for products, instead seeking a more engaging experience”.

The trend was originally driven by younger consumers and their preference for experiences over price and product, however that no longer just the case. Young and old are less likely to spend money in places where the experience is poor regardless of how great the prices are. There is a growing feeling that my money is worth something and if I plan on spending it better be a worthwhile experience.

“Even so, simply remodeling a store isn’t enough,” the article continues. Nearly 5,000 stores closed in 2018 and some experts believe another 4,000 are expected to close their doors in 2019, and “the brands that do survive will have done so by creating engrossing experiences”.

What Should You Do:

Get a pencil and pad of paper.
Identify your three busiest diesel fuel gallon times and days.
Schedule an extra employee on these days.
Create a mini menu for breakfast and lunch of grab-n-go foods.
During these identified times, the extra employee armed with proper safety gear should ask drivers while they are fueling if they can get them anything to eat and drink such as a breakfast burrito and coffee and or a PBJ with chips and milk.
This will create a positive experience.

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Highlights from NATSO Connect 2019

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Truckstop and travel plaza operators came together in Orlando, Florida, for NATSO Connect 2019 and left inspired and informed. So many amazing things came out of the annual event. Here are a six highlights.

Insight Into the Future
We all want to know what the future holds, and much of NATSO Connect focused on helping operators prepare for the trends and technology that are coming down the pipeline.

During one keynote, NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings sat down with Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc. and Immediate Past Chairman of the American Trucking Associations as well as Dan Murray, vice president of the American Transportation Research Institute, to discuss the latest trends affecting truck drivers. Attendees got a first-hand look at how hours-of-service requirements, electronic logging devices and e-commerce are all changing professional drivers’ operating environment.

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NATSO Connect Coca Cola Presentation Shares Signage & Product Positioning Ideas to Boost Beverage Sales

Posted in: Truckstop Business

Those within the truckstop and travel plaza industry know that beverages and the cold vault make up a significant portion of travel plaza and truckstop sales, and research from Coca-Cola shows that beverages are often the catalyst for a stop in the first place.

“Beverages are the No. 1 reason for a trip to the store and account for more than one in four trips,” said J.T. McMahan, senior sales manager for Coca-Cola. McMahan made the remarks while sharing the latest innovate research from the beverage powerhouse during a presentation at NATSO Connect 2018.

However, 74 percent of gas customers leave without buying anything, which makes it important to find ways to capture their attention.

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NATSO Staff Share Product Mix Tips at AMBEST

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Stocking the right product mix is central to not only meeting customers’ needs but also growing sales. NATSO has created a Product Mix To-Go Toolkit to help truckstop and travel plaza operators identify the right products for their locations.

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Maximize Your Vendor Relationships and Product Sales with These Three Tips from NATSO Connect

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Vendors are valuable partners can help truckstop and travel plaza operators learn more about industry trends, category performance and promotional plans. During NATSO Connect 2018’s Good-to-Great Workshop, Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, shared several ways operators can get the most out of their vendor relationships.

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Four Ways to Improve Employee Retention Shared During NATSO Connect

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Human Resources

Retaining top employees not only improves customer service and overall morale, it can save money, too. It costs about $4,000 every time an employee walks out the door, with employers having to pay to recruit new hires, fill the spot and train new employees.

“If you keep your employee, you keep your money,” said Heather Meade, a consultant with Ernst & Young and a leader of NATSO’s HR Share Group. Meade and Ernst & Young’s Tara Bradshaw spoke during NATSO Connect 2018 and shared several concrete ideas for retaining top talent.

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Five Food-Service Lessons From NATSO Connect 2018

Posted in: Truckstop Business, The NATSO Show, Operations

Food and fuel are two of the top things truckstops and travel plazas are known for, and an effective food-service program takes work. During NATSO Connect 2018, food expert Michael Ouimet of Ouimet Consulting Group shared his expertise during the Good to Great Workshop. Here are five quick tips he shared during the event.

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