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Seven Steps to Minimize Loss from Fuel Theft at Your Truckstop

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

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

Seven Steps to Minimize Loss from Fuel Theft at Your Truckstop

Recently a driver stole $1,500 worth of fuel from a truckstop in Virginia. In our industry, drive-offs are less of an issue than they were just a short 10 years ago, but sometimes fuel theft does occur. Here are some steps that truckstop operators can take to minimize loss.

  1. Always thoroughly investigate every drive-off, no matter how small, with the team members on duty. Any drive-off left unaddressed creates a Pandora’s box. Internal theft is still the largest percentage of loss in travel plaza and truckstop locations, and drive offs, while less frequent, are an easy excuse.

  2. Execute your drive-off policy and procedure to the letter. Ensure that all staff members understand the policy and procedure that is in your operations/procedure manual. It is important that new hires as well as staff that don’t work at the fuel desk understand the policy. The more eyes and ears that are available, the better your execution. While team members may not always listen, they are always listening! If you do not have a policy and procedure, create one. Please call me if you need help.

  3. Execute your pump authorization policy exactly as it is stated. No excuses. If it isn’t followed, even when a drive-off does not materialize, address the non-compliance then and there. If your policy is to verify all plates on over-the-road purchases regardless of payment option and you see this not taking place, be sure to ask why. If you require transactions to be pre-paid and/or pre-authorized prior to a pump being turned on, the procedure must always be followed even if you know the customer. Allowing exceptions begins to lead to larger issues in the future.

  4. If your location is blessed to have lot attendants, runners, maintenance persons, etc., ensure that they make it part of their day to say hello to drivers while they are making your operation shine. Statistics show that thieves in general avoid recognition so saying hello is often the biggest deterrent. You should also get in the habit of visiting customers as they fuel, especially the over-the-road drivers. Drivers talk—both with you and amongst themselves. Good customers will see this as another reason to stop by and spend money with you, bad customers will see this as a reason to go down the road and stop somewhere that employees care less about knowing who fuels and spends money with them.

  5. Invest in new technologies, such as QuikQ RFID technology and other electronic advancements, that make fueling easier as well as more secure. If your video surveillance, for example, captures license plates as they enter the fueling stations, let your customers know that with positively placed announcements. Remember, signs of deterrence should not be negative. You do not want your customers to view you as an unsafe place to stop and spend money.

  6. Invest in security equipment, such as Flintloc, that helps protect equipment from being broken into. Break-ins can damage the fuel dispenser internals so that gallons are not recorded properly and/or replace, copy or attach readers that fraudulently capture credit card information leading to charge backs or other claims.

  7. Always inspect your pumps for break-ins, damage and safety issues during your daily arrival walk and during your daily departure walk. It is also makes financial and safety sense to have the arriving management/shift leaders do the same thing prior to their shifts.

 

Other NATSO resources:

 

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

 

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Join the conversation! Do you have a drive-off policy? Have you seen a decrease in drive-offs?

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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.