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Take Flight with a Merchandising and Marketing Checklist

Posted in: Great Ideas, 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.

{Great Ideas} Take Flight with a Merchandising and Marketing Checklist

After spending two days performing a NATSO Profitable Retail Review at NATSO member locations, I am often asked how the operator can ensure that my marketing and merchandising recommendations continue to be implemented long after I am gone.

My simple answer is to treat your operation like a pilot treats his or her plane prior to every departure. A pilot follows a pre-departure checkout plan ensuring everything is operationally intact and you can do the same.

Simply use a merchandising and marketing checklist every day. Follow the checklist as part of your basic walk through process when arriving and leaving the location daily. (Tristan Griffith of Sacramento 49er recently described a similar practice in her Day in the Life of a Truckstop Operator feature.)

It is practically an expectation for operators to have a restroom self-examination checklist, but it’s quite uncommon for operators to have a merchandising and marketing one.

Below is a sample generic 14-point merchandising and marketing checklist you can use as a starting point for your own checklist. Rate your store(s) from one to five, with five being the best score per item. Or we've also created a downloadable sample merchandising and marketing checklist. Click here to get a copy.

  • Exterior, including fuel areas, automotive and OTR parking, lighting, building and grounds.
  • Interior lighting, ceiling tile and vent
  • Window displays and signs
  • Floor displays
  • Cooler organization, signage, back stock, inside storage, price identification tags and promotional pricing
  • Cooler stocking and out-of-stock issues
  • Signage throughout the store
  • Shelf stocking
  • Shipper placement and presentation including wing rack and clip strip programs
  • Transaction counter clutter and presentation
  • Cigarette presentation, pricing and availability
  • Food service cleanliness, specifically roller grill programs, pastry programs and hot box
  • Coffee, fountain bars and other dispensed beverage
  • Food service product availability including hot and cold dispensed beverage

So take the to the sky yourself with confidence knowing that your simple daily marketing and merchandising checklist makes your operation shopper-worthy.


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


Join the conversation! How do walk your store every day? Do you use a checklist?

 Or have a different retail merchandising, marketing or operations question? Post your question in the comments and Darren will answer it in the next Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators.


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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.