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NATSO Blog: Truckstop Business

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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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Five Answers to Biodiesel Questions from Food and Fuel Study Tour Expert

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Biodiesel

Operators are turning to biodiesel to grow their business and increase margins, but the fuel often comes with questions. During a recent webinar, Grow Your Business with Biodiesel Blended Fuel, Jon Scharingson, executive director, sales and marketing for Renewable Energy Group, and David Fialkov, vice president of government relations at NATSO, shared their insight into the financial, performance and environmental benefits of biodiesel and provided answers to operators who are investigating biodiesel.

Operators looking to learn more about biodiesel should attend NATSO's Food and Fuel Study Tour that will take place July 18-20 in Chicago. The tour will include a visit to an REG biodiesel plant and truckstops that offer biodiesel on July 19.

“We’re going to do a deep dive on biodiesel blending economics, including talking about the value of RINs, how to trade RINs and what companies are out there to assist you,” Scharingson said.

The tour will also show biodiesel equipment and cover fuel specifications. On July 20 operators will visit food service disruptors not in the truckstop industry.

Here are five things operators wanted to know:

Q: What are the issues with putting B10 or B20 into an underground storage tank that has never had biodiesel?

A: Scharingson said operators that have a good tank maintenance program in place and regularly clean and inspect tanks shouldn’t have a problem putting B5 to B20 blends in an existing tank. “You’d likely want to clean your filters more frequently at first because the solvency properties of biodiesel are going to clean up some of that gunk that just formed over time,” he said.

Scharingson added that operators should start with a B5 blend for a few weeks before moving to a B15 or B20 blend. “The more biodiesel you have in there the quicker the solvency properties are going to take effect,” he said...

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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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What NATSO’s July Food and Fuel Study Tour is All About

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

NATSO’s Food and Fuel Study Tour, July 18-20 in Chicago, will give NATSO members an opportunity to tour food service and travel plaza locations, take a deep dive into biodiesel blending economics, including talking about the value of RINs, how to trade RINs and what companies are out there to assist and network with truckstop and travel plaza operators.

NATSO’s past study tours have sold out because they really are special experiences.

During the Food and Fuel Study Tour, NATSO will take the experience to a new level and add in industry experts who will share their insights into the latest trends in both food and fuel — two of the most important profit centers within a truckstop or travel plaza.

See and learn more about this must attend event.

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NATSO Best Practices in Truckstop Merchandising: Redundant Merchandise

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Truckstop Merchandising Video

Every other Thursday, we share a video from Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, on one component of truckstop merchandising.

Today he talks about redundant merchandise using the example of flashlights.

Watch the video and then go look at your flashlight section. Do you have too many flashlights? Email me and let me know what you find!

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NATSO Best Practices in Truckstop Merchandising: Sets [Video]

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Truckstop Merchandising Video

Welcome to a brand new video in the Best Practices in Truckstop Merchandising blog series!

Every other Thursday, I share a video from Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, on one component of truckstop merchandising. Merchandising consists of how you organize the product in your store both physically and financially. With nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising, Schulte is a truckstop merchandising expert.

In today’s video, Schulte walks listeners through which sets should be reduced to make room for bigger sets of other products that drive sales.

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Human Resources Question of the Month: Unpaid FMLA And Paid Holidays?

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Human Resources

Today Federated Insurance is sharing one of our “HR Questions of the Month” regarding employment-related practices liability issues.

Question: We received a question regarding unpaid FMLA leave and holiday pay. An employee has requested unpaid FMLA leave. There are paid holidays during the leave period. Is the employee entitled to holiday pay?

Response: In determining whether an employee on FMLA leave is entitled to holiday pay for a holiday that falls during the leave period, the employer's policy governs

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NATSO Best Practices in Truckstop Merchandising: SKU Reduction [Video]

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Truckstop Merchandising Video

Every other Thursday, we share a video from Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, on one component of truckstop merchandising.

In today’s video, Schulte walks listeners through best practices in SKU reduction.

He encourages operators with limited space to count the number of SKUs of a particular product type. For example, during the video he counts the number of orange sodas and root beer offerings.

Do the same in your truckstop. Do you have too much of the same thing?

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