Risk Management: NATSO Members are Talking. Are You Listening

When I meet with travel plaza owners to discuss the risk management culture at their businesses, I often notice a repeating pattern. They have good intentions of making employee and customer safety a priority, but their good intentions don’t always get acted upon. They cite sticking points such as:

  • I’m too busy.
  • I’m not sure how to do it.
  • We don’t really have any problems.

Although these reasons can indeed be legitimate, they are often excuses. And excuses, my father always taught me, are like armpits—everyone has them and they all stink.

Today’s the day to throw out the excuses and take action toward a risk management culture. Some of your peers have done just that. Take it from these four successful NATSO members, risk management should be viewed as a critical investment in your company’s future.

It has to start at the top—Without question, the commitment from a company’s owner and management team to a risk management culture is the most important element in effectively leading employees. At Loco Inc., in Grand Junction, Colo., company owner Pete Lipson personally attends all safety meetings. According to Lipson, “That way, all of the employees understand the role safety plays in their jobs.”

Take control—There are so many different operational risk exposures in a travel plaza that you cannot afford to be passive and nonchalant about your best safety practices. Sam Smith, president of Knoxville Auto Truck Plaza in Knoxville, Tenn., looks to his insurer for support. “We invite Federated Insurance in for walkthrough inspections. When they make suggestions, we follow through on them.”

Chris Heinz of Heinz Inc., and Coffee Cup Fuel Stops & Convenience Stores in Dakota Dunes, S.D., recently attended Federated’s Designated Risk Manager Training Seminar. He understands the value of investing two and a half days to learn more about the types of claims travel plaza operators see frequently and which ones are considered most severe.

“If you haven’t had an issue or claim recently, it’s easy to become complacent when it comes to risk management. A recurring question from one of Federated’s presenters—are you lucky or are you good—sticks with me and brings it back to the forefront. If safety isn’t part of your culture and risk management is not part of your daily operating procedures, then you’re just lucky,” Heinz said.

Empower employees—At Detroiter Travel Center in Woodhaven, Mich., owner Bill Vollenweider insists that employees from each department serve on the company’s safety committee. “It was their idea for all restaurant employees to wear slip-resistant shoes. Now we provide them for no charge and have seen a major reduction in slips and falls,” he said.

It has a financial impact—The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that every year nearly four million people suffer a workplace injury, from which some will never recover. On average, a single workers compensation claim will cost $36,200, the National Safety Council reported. With these direct and indirect costs applied directly to your bottom line, your business definitely suffers when an accident occurs. Your workers compensation experience modification affects your premiums, but do you know just how much control you actually have over your experience mod and, ultimately, your insurance costs? When was the last time you really evaluated your experience mod?

Smith said, “Our mod rate has been declining since we’ve been with Federated, which has made a tangible impact on our bottom line.”

What are the excuses holding you back from having a risk management culture you are proud to promote to customers and prospective new employees? More importantly, what are the excuses that are costing you money? Don’t wait a minute longer to do something about risk management. Learn from your peers and see how Federated can help you develop and implement the risk management culture you want to have.



This article originally ran in Stop Watch magazineStop Watch provides in-depth content to assist NATSO members in improving their travel plaza business operations.

The magazine is mailed to NATSO members bimonthly. If you are a member and not receiving Stop Watchsubmit a request to be added to the mailing list. Not a memberJoin today or submit a request to receive additional information.

Jerry Leemkuil

Stop Watch Magazine
Supplier Focus:
Federated Insurance
Retailer Featured:
Coffee Cup Fuel StopsDetroiter Travel CenterKnoxville Auto Truck PlazaLoco Inc.

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