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Lessons From The NATSO Show: Suggestive Selling Adds Up to Increased Profits

Posted in: Truckstop Business, The NATSO Show, Marketing & Retail


For two and a half days, the industry gathers to find knowledge, solutions and connections at The NATSO Show. Just like The NATSO Show, The NATSO Show Magazine is your source for improving your travel plaza business operations. Unlike The NATSO Show it is year-round.  

Lessons From The NATSO Show: Suggestive Selling Adds Up to Increased Profits

For Herb Hargraves, director of fuel and retail sales at Cash Magic Truck Plazas and Casinos, suggestive selling is adding up to significant profits. Hargraves launched his company’s suggestive selling program several years ago and has seen it grow year over year. 

“The first year we made an additional $10,000, the next was $20,000 the next was $35,000. When I look at my year over year, it is a 1.5-3 percent increase,” Hargraves said while addressing operators at The NATSO Show 2015. “Those incremental rings can add up to the bottom line. As companies, we want to increase our sales and profits.” 

Hargraves led the NATSO U session Growing Incremental Sales. He told his fellow operators that for a suggestive selling program to be successful, employees have to embrace it. Hargraves said that when he first discussed the program with him employees, he explained that the company needed to improve sales so it could continue to offer cost-of-living increases and maintain positions. “You want to make it important for the associates and not just expect them to do it because they are being told to do it,” Hargraves said.

He also provided training and conducted role-playing scenarios with staff. To encourage employees, Hargraves offered them prizes. When Hargraves first started the program, he provided the prizes, but as the program grew, vendors stepped up and offered incentives.

“There is a marketing fund that each of these vendors have. Our most successful promotion to date was fourth quarter 2014, which was on all standard size and king size M&Ms. We were 2/$2 on standard size and 2/$3 on king size. We sold 30,000 pieces. I was able to offer two hourly associates $1,000 each and two $500 each,” Hargraves said.

Finding the right item at the right price can make the program more successful. “It is all about the smart suggestions. If you make the item too expensive, it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

The best way to get started with a program is with existing vendors, Hargraves said. Although he started his first campaign without support from vendors, he said he has had several come to him. One was Mentos. “We sold 14,000 rolls of Mentos. That was 1,000% growth. Don’t think too big on suggestive selling. Don’t make it too hard. It doesn’t have to be difficult,” he said.  

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About the Author

Amy Toner

Amy Toner

Toner markets NATSO products, services and meetings. She is the content editor of NATSO's core websites, Stop Watch magazine and Highway Business Matters biweekly articles. In addition, she provides creative services across all departments. Toner joined NATSO in 2006. Prior to joining the association, she served as director of membership services at an association for ambulatory surgery centers. Toner lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son.

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