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Six Ways to Set Your Truckstop Apart

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. The author, Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, brings to NATSO a wealth of knowledge about our industry.

Join Darren here every other Thursday for his biweekly retail column.

Six Ways to Set Your Truckstop Apart

An important component of marketing your truckstop is deciding how you and your management team want to set your location apart from your competition. If you think about it, you and your competitors generally sell the same products at about the same prices and offer many of the same services. In order to stand out, you have to determine how are you going to set yourself apart. Your customer needs a reason to choose your truckstop over your competitor's. In the customer’s mind, it does not always come down to price. A majority of your customers will pay a little more for an item if they know that they are going to get a quality product in a clean environment with superior customer service instead of bargain shopping for the lowest price.

There are endless ways you can distinguish yourself from your competitor. Six examples include:

  • Food. Maybe you have the best fried chicken in the area.
  • Staff. You could have the friendliest staff, most knowledgeable staff or consistent faces.
  • Products. You may have chosen to be the largest electronics retailer for the over-the-road driver.
  • Showers. You could have the cleanest showers on the interstate, the nicest towels or the most showers so customers will never a wait to get a shower.
  • Beverages. Maybe you have the best coffee or the widest selection of soft drinks.
  • Parking spaces. Maybe you have the cleanest, most accessible parking in your area.

You need to pick one or several and make sure that your customers and future customers are aware of them. Highlight them on your advertising, in your business model, on your flyers and on billboards. Customers should understand what you stand for no matter where they see your company listed. Again, it is critical you know who your customers are and why they shop your location. Never assume you know.

Editor's Note: Marketing and merchandizing is an essential element in the success of any operation. To help NATSO members, NATSO offers a Truckstop and Travel Plaza Training Manual that includes a chapter on "Marketing and Retail." Purchase the Truckstop and Travel Plaza Training Manual here. - AT

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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.