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Customers: Are the Locals Loyal to Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business

LocalSwitches.jpg

During the upcoming NATSO Show, one of the educations sessions is on knowing your customer. Specifically, the session wil cover having a relationship with the customer rather than the card they use to fuel with you. During my NATSO reviews of locations as well as here in my blog series, I frequently harp about the importance of knowing who your customer is. 

With the rise of social media tools such as Foursquare, Groupon, Twitter, and Facebook, among the many others, independent operators have the potential to level the playing field between themselves and national and regional chains. According to a recent RetailWire News Article, "In fact, local merchants should be able to do much better, with their proximity to their communities providing an advantage in tailoring messages.”

Local operators have the unique ability to leverage switches that turn the senses on and off for potential local shoppers, such as fuel discounts for purchases made for fuel and merchandise.

Understanding what switches are important to your local community is critical to creating loyal local customers.

Making assumptions will only get you a customer who shops for price, no matter what the commodity. According to the RetailWire News Article, "The big win is creating cross-shopping activity among and between businesses [within your operation] enabling customers accumulating value to cash in for something more interesting than "10% off." That often relies on the standard recipe for loyalty marketing of providing tailored offers to individuals based on where they shop and even their interests. The method of enrollment and data collection for this program will determine how powerful it can be for merchants in the long run.” 

If local customers know that they can get discounted fuel for eating lunch or breakfast at your location, you will endear them to your operation. Most of us fuel once a week—if I can fuel while I eat my hot fresh pancakes breakfast, which gave me an additional 5 cents off my fuel purchase for eating at your establishment on Sunday before church, there is a strong chance that I will be back regularly.

 

Editor’s Note: A panelist of presenters led by Ernie Betancourt of Quik!Q, LLC are offering a session on Know Who Your Fuel Customer is And Learn How to Keep Them at The NATSO Show. Learn more on The NATSO Show website. - AT

Photo Credit: Ira Wexler/NATSO

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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.