Truckstop Operators Fill The Room with Great Ideas at NATSO's Conference

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Innovation is what keeps business moving forward, and new ideas can be the key to success. Instead of try­ing to reinvent the wheel, truckstop and travel plaza operators joined to­gether to share their great ideas and learn the tips and tricks from their peers to improve operations at their lo­cations. The sharing took place during the Great Ideas! for Independent Op­erators Workshop during The NATSO Show 2017, and operators tackled ev­erything from food service to point-of-sale technology.

Here are just some of the great ideas that operators shared during the session.

Food Service: Operators said they’re having success with a wide variety of food options, includ­ing hard-boiled eggs, prepackaged cheese or sausage, specialty pizzas made in-house, empanadas, frozen yogurt and shake machines. One operator said the location’s employ­ees select food specials and another said it is useful to get a certified food manager on site.

Parking: Operators often think of tractor-trailers when consider­ing paid parking, but one operator realized large numbers of customers were leaving their personal vehicles parked at the location. So, the lo­cation started charging drivers to park their personal vehicles for an extended period of time.

Human Resources: For new hires, it is useful to focus on the five firsts: the first hour (make it great), the first day (find out how it went), the first paycheck (make sure it is done right) the first month and the first year (check in with the employees).

Potential Revenue Streams: One operator has added used books, which he purchases from a local library. An­other rents space to trucking compa­nies so they can recruit truck drivers.

Community Engagement: Be­ing involved in the community is one of many ways operators are at­tracting customers. One location has loyalty programs for locals and one for drivers. Another hosts we-pump Wednesdays and not only lowers the price, but also pumps gas for the customers, which gives cus­tomers a chance to go in and shop. Another location sponsors sports teams and donates a percentage or tips to a charity. Yet another offers scholarships to keep a constant flow of young people stopping by.

Marketing: Social media, includ­ing Trip Advisor and Twitter, is help­ing operators connect with local cus­tomers. Facebook is the most popular social media people are seeing. Op­erators said they are also using bill­boards, but radio ads have been less effective as no one is sure what radio station people are listening to.

Technology: Operators agreed they have to stay current on technol­ogy to be effective. Some are using geofencing to publish specials or notify customers when they get near their location. One operator warned his peers that even if they aren’t using geofencing, they should make sure they’re not being geofenced by some­one else. Operators also said they’re seeing drivers use the Park my Truck App and the Weigh my Truck App.

General Management: To grow staff, one operator is focusing on millennials and said the key is giv­ing them the right tools for success, such as electronic onboarding and communication via text messages.

Human Resources: During the session operators agreed good em­ployees are important for customer service. To help attract talent, op­erators said they create a single lo­cation for applications, offer digital recruiting, provide sign-on bonuses and ask employees for suggestions on new hires

Save the date for the next Great Ideas! for Independent Operators Workshop, which will take place during NATSO Connect 2018, Feb. 10–13 in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more at www.natsoconnect.com.

Photo credit: Brittany Palmer/NATSO

Amy Toner's photo

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. More
Source:
Stop Watch Magazine

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