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Ten Ways to Increase Emotional Engagement at Your Truckstop

Posted in: Marketing & Retail

As Ken Schmidt, the former chief marketing officer for Harley Davidson, told truckstop and travel plaza operators during The NATSO Show 2015, we live in a world where everything is commoditized. 

“I will say until my face turns purple that there is nothing you are selling that I can’t get from someone else for less money,” he said, adding that we choose to do business with people we like.

That means the best way for businesses to differentiate themselves is by engaging customers and building relationships.  

NATSO members joined together this month during an operational exchange conference call* to share ways they connect with customers. Here are ten key ideas operators shared during the call. 

  • Let customers know you miss them. If you’ve had a regular customer who you don’t see for a while, spread the word with other drivers that the person is missed. One location even placed a wanted sign on the door, winning the customer back.

  • Leave a goody bag inside of the truck for those having maintenance done.

  • Take down the birthday for those who have house accounts and call them on their birthday.
  • Place a note in the shower from the person who cleaned it thanking the person for using the shower and explaining how to reach out if anything needs attention. Add a rose and a mint for a personal touch to make it even more special. 
  • Provide treats for dogs—this is especially helpful in drive-through lanes when associates can see who is traveling with a pet. 
  • Engage kids by offering stickers or hide a stuffed animal and provide a lollipop to those who find it. 
  • Every once in a while, provide a free cup of coffee to a loyal customer.
  • Keep associates engaged with a suggestive selling program, allowing them to win gift cards or prizes for their efforts.
  • Hire the right employees. During an interview, look for the candidates that smile often and can forge a two-minute relationship.
  • Give handwritten notes. Whether it is thanking someone for their loyalty or a big purchase, a handwritten note can go a long way to strengthen a relationship.


*Open to all NATSO truckstop and travel plaza members, NATSO Operational Exchange is made up of scheduled monthly calls that provide a forum for operators to discuss operational questions and connect with peers on a single topic.

Limited to 15 operators, next month's call will take place on Thursday, July 9 at 11:00 a.m. EDT10:00 a.m. CDT9:00 a.m. MDT and 8:00 a.m. PDT. Operators will discuss loyalty programs, what systems people use, how people administer the program and what can be redeemed. 

You can register online at or by emailing

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About the Author

Amy Toner

Amy Toner

Toner markets NATSO products, services and meetings. She is the content editor of NATSO's core websites, Stop Watch magazine and Highway Business Matters biweekly articles. In addition, she provides creative services across all departments. Toner joined NATSO in 2006. Prior to joining the association, she served as director of membership services at an association for ambulatory surgery centers. Toner lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son.

Where To Find Me

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