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Collaborate with Vendors to Increase Truckstop Sales

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

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Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators. The author, Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, brings to NATSO a wealth of knowledge about our industry.

Join Darren here every other Thursday for his biweekly retail column.

{Great Ideas} Collaborate with Vendors to Increase Truckstop Sales

I just returned from a very educational study tour in Europe. Our group of eight NATSO members and staff saw and heard quite a few exceptional ideas including both long-term and actionable-for-the-now ideas. It was certainly evident that our European counterparts struggle with much of the same daily issues that we do.

One of the good ideas gleaned from the European counterparts was for retailers and vendors to be very collaborative. I would venture to state that European retailers exceed us in developing programs and initiatives in conjunction with their vendors.

Upon arriving home, as luck would have it, I had an opportunity to read a study by IBM Smarter Commerce and Booz Allen Hamilton in partnership with Trade Promotion Management Associates. According to the study, when trade partners work together more effectively, they improve retail-focused merchandising and marketing.

Finding ways to work with your vendor partners needs to become a priority. Recent studies have shown that customers entering our stores after fueling are spending less than 2 minutes in the operation. If you are not developing a strategy and the tactics to capture their sale in conjunction with the vendor community, you will find yourself full of merchandise that is not selling at its capabilities and potentially not selling at all.

The study found that “trust, while a key factor in collaboration effectiveness, it was relatively insignificant compared to other barriers to promotion collaboration as seen by retailers and vendors”. The top concern “cited by 75% of participants was lack of data consistency.”

Regardless of what type of data you have available and what type of available data your vendor has, you need to be sharing it, discussing it, and most importantly acting on it.

Does the provider of your truck supply product category know that your over-the-road (OTR) customer is less than 10% owner-operator? Does your soda vendor know that you have significant more four-wheel customers visiting your operation Friday through Sunday?

Once you begin sharing information, you can begin to create tailored promotions and programs together. For example, do you typically promote your soda on the weekends when you are busier? Are you not better off having promotions during your least busy times? These are the types of discussions you can and should have with your vendors. 

/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here

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Editor’s Note: Schulte is teaching an educational session on how to harness the power of vendors at The NATSO Show 2013. Learn more about his session, Manage Your Vendorson The NATSO Show education page.

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.