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Three Examples of How to Offer The Personal Touch at Your Truckstop

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


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

Three Examples of How to Offer The Personal Touch at Your Truckstop

I was recently interviewed by Fleet Owner for a story on truckstops tapping the personal touch. (Be sure to read the full story here.)

I shared with the reporter the story of doing a quick survey* at a NATSO member location to help the owner determine why truck drivers were stopping at his location. In this instance, the member thought the main reason drivers were stopping at his location was the price of their fuel. However, the reason was the friendliness of their staff.

I think a lot of our independent members who are putting a priority on providing the personal touch would get the same survey results.

Here are a few ideas on providing the personal touch at your truckstop:

Community Outreach
A lot of our members are doing a lot of great things to personalize their brand in their community. A NATSO member in Ohio shared with us that one evening a year they have the local volunteer fire department take over their restaurant and serve a spaghetti dinner. The fire department keeps 100% of receipts and they donate everything needed for the event including labor, food etc. The fire department parks the fire trucks out front and serve the locals in their uniforms. This truckstop has done this for 30 years and it builds community support. What is more warm and fuzzy than a fireman serving you spaghetti?!

Truck Hop Server
Here is the one I shared in the article: “One of our members developed a ‘food while you fuel’ option so they could place an order while refueling their truck. Then it gets brought out to them by a ‘truck hop’ server. It’s a way to make that stop, however short in duration, a more friendly experience.  And making it more personal may convince that driver and/or fleet to use that truck stop again down the road.”

Drive Through Scale
At Fontana Truck Stop in Fontana, California they have a drive through scale. Not only is this both convenient and unique, it adds a human interaction to something very mundane. Drivers can chat with a friendly face and that friendly case can suggestive sell a soda or pack of gum to go with their weigh in.

*This is an exercise I do frequently and I encourage all operators do. Keep it simple. Quickly make a survey like the one pictured below and stand by the door to the fuel desk and ask every driver as they come in for a few hours.


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


During this morning's NATSO Operational Exchange call, operators shared some great personal touch ideas. We'll be sure to share those on the blog soon. 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 11 at 11:00 a.m. EDT. Learn more about next month's NATSO Operational Exchange and register here.

Photo Credit: Darren Schulte/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.