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Create a Strong Microwave Section to Increase Grab-n-Go Offerings

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

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Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators

Create a Strong Microwave Section to Increase Grab-n-Go Offerings

According to this article from the Institute of Food Technologists, “Microwavable foods are changing, thanks to consumers’ increasing time pressure, nutritional awareness, and desire for foods that taste and smell like they were cooked in a conventional oven.” (Be sure to check out the article. While old, it still has a lot of relevant points.)

This is especially true for the time-pressed travelers who visit your truckstop. For them, the microwave section of your truckstop can be a destination location. Not only will customers heat food within the location, over-the-road drivers may grab something they can prepare in their truck later.

The number of products that can be microwaved continue to increase. We are also seeing microwavable products of better quality. Some examples of popular food items include popcorn by Orville Redenbacher, Campbell’s soup and pastas by Barilla. We’re also seeing new products, such as single-serve Rice-a-Roni cups and mashed potatoes by Idahoan. 

As quoted in the article linked above, “Microwave cooking is not simply a shorter way to heat things, but rather it is an integral part of the way people live. This is a very positive environment for microwavable food.”

To make the microwave section as attractive as possible, I’d suggest:

  1. Invest in good looking powerful microwaves. Two is better than one.

  2. Ensure that the microwave is noticeable to those potential customers. Searching for a microwave to cook your Don Miguel burritos will not drive sales and profitability. If they are hard to locate, you will find the burrito laying in your candy aisle later in the day when you walk your store.

  3. Integrated microwaves that are part of your overall food service look are very impactful and speak to a higher and cleaner quality food operation. Additionally, they save space rather than just sitting on the counter.

  4. Include the cleanliness of the microwaves in your daily deli food safety and cleanliness process. Check on the cleanliness of the units regularly. Make it a routine to keep the microwaves as spotless as possible.

  5. Place microwaveable product in professional wire displays adjacent to the microwave. Try to ensure that all of the racks are similar. It is also important to ensure racks stay clean and are well maintained. Given the proper space, you can even create departmentalized racks for a wide variety of products. Keep in mind who your customer is and specifically the local demographic that shops and buys with you.

  6. For your customers’ convenience, try to avoid carrying canned products that require a can opener. If you do offer canned products that need a can opener, clip strip can openers close to this product mix.

It is estimated that by 2015 microwavable foods will be a $91 billion dollar business. Are you ready?

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

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Join the conversation! What microwavable items sell well in your truckstop?

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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.