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Plan of Action to Add Popcorn to Your Truckstop

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


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

Plan of Action to Add Popcorn to Your Truckstop

As our industry trends to more robust food service such as full-service restaurants, quick-service offerings and grab and go, it is important not to forget the smaller offerings that can generate exceptional sales and profitability.

One of those offerings is popcorn; yes popcorn. Some locations are selling popcorn and other locations have done it in the past with varying results based on how the program is executed. It is imperative to have a plan of action when you implement a popcorn program. For starters, I would suggest:

  1. Your popcorn machine must be strategically placed. Clean that counter off and have the machine placed on the counter so that it doesn’t block customer or team member sight lines.
  2. Ensure that you have a popcorn-popping schedule. For example, “We pop corn every day at 5:00 pm...”
  3. When creating your schedule be sure to look at your busiest diesel gallon, gasoline and transaction times. Keep popcorn fresh during these peak time periods. Popping corn at your busiest times will ensure that the maximum number of potential buyers will be in the store at the time that the smell of the popcorn is most robust.
  4. As popcorn gets older, consider reductions and/or giveaways. This limits waste and improves profitability.
  5. As popcorn is salty, look to attach beverages to create buy-one-get-one (BOGO) opportunities. Be sure to focus on your fountain products to ensure maximum profitability.
  6. Look to offer add-on products such as gourmet seasoning and specialty offerings like jalapenos.
  7. Have fun with the sales. Create sales contests and/or make selling popcorn part of your suggestive selling program.

You may not think that such a small offering can impact your sales and profitability, but done properly you will be pleasantly surprised. I cannot wait to hear back from those of you that create a program and share your success. Tell us in the comments.


/// 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.