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Truckstop Beer Merchandising 101

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

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

Truckstop Beer Merchandising 101

A growing number of truckstops and travel plazas are finding success with beer caves or even a properly built beer display. This growth is happening in part because of an industry-wide increase in four-wheel traffic.

In addition, summer is the season when beer sales drive additional add-on purchases such as ice, chips and coolers. So NOW is the time to ramp up your beer merchandising efforts.

Whether you’re looking to grow your beer offerings or simply reset your current products, consider these suggestions:

  • Know your customer. If you have little to no local customers, a robust beer program may not be required. However, if you have a strong local customer base or reside on an interstate that leads to a destination spot such as a lake or football stadium, a robust beer program will drive customer counts, increased transactions, additional sales and profitability.

  • Train to prevent the sale of beer to minors and those that should not be purchasing beer. Know your local, state and federal laws as it applies to the sale of alcohol. Ensure you are regularly training new and established team members in the sale of these age and impaired restricted products. WE CARD and TiPS programs are fantastic additions to your company’s preventive sales programs. Be smart and card those purchasing and always enforce the rules, regardless of whether any issues have happened in the past.

  • Beer SKUs can be significant. As a best practice, stay focused on the best sellers unless you know you have a local or regional customer who will support the carrying cost of additional varieties of beer.

  • Also, be sure to check sales versus inventory. If you’re looking to grow your beer offerings, look at your sales numbers to find areas to expand on. If you’re offerings are already large, look at the sales to see if there are areas where you can reduce the SKUs. Set beer productivity or turn goals with your vendors. Use national averages for sets the size of yours as a beginning goal. Your beer vendors can provide a huge array of data for you to review and together you can set up best practices to implement and execute.

  • Work closely with your vendors to ensure that the product selection and inventory levels are properly impacting your sales and profits. Assign a category captain from among those delivering your beer to manage and maintain the sales space. Be vigilant and ask for regular plan-o-gram updates as well as quarterly performance reviews. Beer programs left to their own device will never generate the sales and profitability to those that are managed.  

  • Consider tightening up your beer retails for like product. Costs don’t always just come from carrying inventory. Ask yourself how much time you’re spending to stock a wide range of SKUs—three hours a day at $10.00 an hour adds up to $30.00 a day or approximately $11,000 a year. And what about injuries in coolers due to lifting or repetitive movements?

  • Beer sales always benefit from properly built displays. Work with your vendors and have them provide you with the proper support of your displays. Every two weeks you should have a primary and secondary display supported.

  • Get creative. Allow your customers to customize their purchase with a build-your-own six-pack option. 

 

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

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Join the conversation! Have you seen an increase in beer sales at your location? How are you getting creative to boost beer sales?

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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.