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Truckstop Customers Are Changing: How Are You Adapting?

Posted in: Great Ideas, Truckstop Business, Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators, Fuel and Trucking


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

Truckstop Customers Are Changing: How Are You Adapting?

If you haven’t noticed yet or maybe you have not been speaking to the drivers coming into your stores these days, but things are a changing...

Hours-of-Service Shift Driver Stopping Patterns
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with my family members who drive over-the-road and discuss changes they are making during their workweek.

Overwhelming they said that they are just not stopping as frequently at truckstops as they used to, and when they do, they are often not going into the location any longer.

Specifically one of my nephews who hauls freight between El Paso and Dallas referenced that at a minimum he would stop twice and SHOP at truckstops on the I-10/I-20 corridor just a short three years ago. He now avoids shopping altogether and stops only once per his hours-of-service requirements.

He fuels in the yard before he leaves and returns. He stocks his truck refrigerator in El Paso with enough food and snacks to make the round trip and carries a case of water and energy drinks. Mind you, this is a 600 mile one way trip. He proclaims there is no reason for him to stop any longer and he just does not have the time like he used to. He added that he feels he has to get to and fro with much more urgency.

Drivers and Four-Wheelers Crave More Healthy Items
While we are slowly beginning to see healthier choice food options take root, there is certainly more awareness and activity around these life style change. I am certain this is another trend you should be adapting for—you can no longer just pass it off as a fad. It has to be part of an overall food service strategy that has it roots in what your customers really want.

Certainly expanded grab and go services should be the center piece with expanded roller grill and hot box programs taking the lead, but fresh and healthy fare need to have a positioning within your offering. You should expand your thought process to include Greek yogurts, blueberries and pineapple slices to go along with the taquitos and tornadoes.

Things are changing even within a single SUV traveling down the interstate that makes a stop at your location. My son is looking for the powerbar, Monster Zero Energy drink and yogurt, my wife wants the coffee, the pineapple slices and muffin and me, well I am looking for the Twinkies, anything on the roller grill and do not forget the Coke Zero….

You certainly cannot be everything to everyone, but you can be something to those customers shopping your stores.

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


Join the conversation! Are you seeing these changes in your location? What other trends are you seeing?


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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.