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How to See Your Truckstop with Fresh Eyes

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


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

How to See Your Truckstop with Fresh Eyes

We all know that curb appeal is important, and now new surveys show that two thirds of customers will not come into your operation if the curb appeal is not positive and inviting.

But often times, we need to look at our locations with fresh eyes and see our operation in the same way a customer does.

The next time you pull into your truckstop or travel plaza, pretend you’re a customer stopping for the first time. Take a good look at your location and look at things such as:

  • Are the entrances welcoming? Does the over-the-road diesel entrance appeal to drivers? Does the driver see what appears to be empty displays or a mish mash of products with no focal points? Does the four-wheel gasoline entrance look inviting?  Does the entrance to the restaurant make it clear where to go and what to do?

  • Are pump toppers and/or signs on your mechanical petroleum dispensers (MPD’s) utilized to drive business into your operation?

  • Does the current message drive business? It is important that every touch point 
drives the messaging consistently to the customer. This, consequently, positively 
enforces the average ticket growth.

  • How do you feel about branded fuel? How do you think the relationship with the
 fuel provider is working?

  • Even if your curb appeal entices someone to stop at the location, do you have a strategy to encourage them to purchase more?

  • Do you think there is proper focus on getting outside pay­-at-the-pump users into the location?

  • What is the percentage of fueling customers that purchase outside versus 

  • Is a fuel discount offer driving business? Are customers utilizing a Fuel Rewards Network (FRN)?

While you’ll want to ask these questions about your operation, you can also apply them to your competitors’ locations so you can learn from the areas they are doing well. There is always more to learn, and even minor changes can bring big results.

Photo Credit: Jules Clifford/NATSO

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

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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.