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Review Holiday Sales to Uncover New Opportunities at Your Truckstop

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail

Editor's note: Darren Schulte, NATSO vice president of membership, frequently visits NATSO members to review their locations and offers impactful merchandising and operations improvements. Contact Schulte at dschulte@natso.com or (915) 526-5820 to learn more about the costs and details of this service.

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The fourth quarter and holiday season has come and gone, and now that the dust has settled, it is a great time to review how things went. Holiday sales at many retailers exceeded expectations. Was that the case for you? Were you prepared or are there things you wish you’d done differently?

During my travels, I recently stopped at a truckstop that had 2018 calendars for sale in mid-January. It might seem like it makes sense to offer calendars at the first of the year, but the fact is that most people already have a new calendar once January hits. We see them for sale beginning in October at many retailers. If you don’t put calendars out until December or January, the odds are that you missed the boat.

I was with a company that had travel stores that had daily retails sales at times of $35,000 to $40,000. How does someone get to those kind of sales? You have to be prepared. What are some of the opportunities you’ve missed?

The Bomb Cyclone that hit the East Coast was great for retail, but only for those locations that were prepared. With the right planning winter weather can create sales opportunities, particularly in our industry. Not only can sales of winter jackets, windshield washer fluid and hot coffee boost revenue, they also help meet customers’ needs. What were your sales like when the weather turned cold? Was there more you could have done to take advantage of the conditions?

As you think about your 2018 sales, be sure to plan ahead. Make a list and focus on promotions well in advance. You should be planning for Christmas as early as possible, and fourth quarter and winter sales should be executed and in stores by September.

Watch retailers for cues on how you can boost sales. We’ll be seeing shorts popping up at retailers soon, and if you have a strong apparel program, you won’t want to wait until temperatures rise to roll out your summer wear. And, do not scoff at shorts, flip flops and sandals in the stores early, remember people can now buy these items 24-7, 365 days a year via the internet.

Seasonal promotions are a great way to draw attention to products, boost sales and add to the retail environment.

The key is to make a plan. Identify promotions, products and placement of those products and promotions before you buy and before the product arrives. If you do not know what, when, how and where you’re going to place and promote the products, you will fail to maximize your profitability. So create a strategy and roll out your seasonal promotions in a timely fashion before the sales opportunity has passed you by. 

/// Did you know most weeks can find Darren Schulte, NATSO's Vice President of Memebrship, visiting a NATSO member truckstop location, spending three to four days, using his merchandising and operations expertise to help them grow their business? Learn about NATSO’s Profitable Retail Review program here.

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Photos Credit: 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.