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Create a Specific, Measurable, Realistic Holiday Action Plan for Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail


We are more than half way through the summer drive, yet it is difficult to think about the 4th quarter with its cold weather and special holidays. But, you need to.

It is imperative to put your action plan in place for the winter season now. Keep in mind that there is only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, a FULL six holiday shopping days less than last year.

Every year other retail purchase opportunities continue to steal sales away from traditional retailers. Online purchases steadily increase every year, grocery and hardware stores sell crazy-priced large-screen TV’s to get you in the door, liqueur stores sell Christmas cards and last minute gift ideas. The list is never ending.

According to an article written by Melissa Warten for TMCnet, “A shorter shopping season has the potential to highlight the conveniences of online shopping even further – free or same-day holiday shipping rates for example, have been on the rise in recent years and eliminate the need for a trip to the store while still enjoying timely delivery.” Do not think that online purchase have no impact on you, they do. Just think about the items you used to be able to sell in your stores just five years ago that you can’t today. Certainly the economy has impacted retail sales of the nontraditional retail items, but there are other agents at work impacting them as well.

When considering your holiday action plan keep these simple planning keys to success in mind. They have not changed in 50 years...

  • Your Plan Must Be SPECIFIC: From the owner to the cashiers, everyone on your team needs to know what you are trying to accomplish during this time period. 
  • Your Plan Must Be MEASURABLE: Measuring progress is vital to determining if your plan is having the desired results. Review it frequently in the beginning to see if you need to update the goals, forecast and so forth. Be sure to include quantitative and qualitative goals to keep yourself and your team accountable.
  • Your Plan Must Be REALISTIC and ACHIEVABLE: It doesn’t help to list category sales increases, margin improvements, market share and segment domination as well as other ideas that you would like to implement if you lack the resources to actually accomplish those milestones. Don’t set goals and plans that are beyond your location, your team and your own capabilities. Set realistically ambitious goals and plans. You cannot sell 55,000 remote control vehicles if you have 8 feet of retail space available for this promotion and daily customer counts of 300 persons.
  • Your Plan Must Be TIME-BOUND: You need a beginning and an end to your action plan. No beginning date equals no launch of action and no end date equals no ability to rate success rate and review the process. As referenced above, give yourself a time limit to push for success and measure frequently enough so that you can adjust your tactics to meet your goals.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: Amy Toner/NATSO

Be sure to download our Sample Truckstop Marketing Calendar below to prepare for the entire year.




Join the conversation! Do you think it is hard to plan for the holidays when it is cold out? How do you keep your whole staff involved in the holidays?

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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.