When remodeling the 3B’s Truck & Auto Plaza location in Lodi, California, owner Ben Khatirine focused on technology, labor and food decisions that would improve customers’ experiences and take the location into the future.
Khatirine joined Darren Schulte, vice president of membership, and me on NATSO’s podcast, The Truck Stops Here, to share what he has learned.
One of the things the location has struggled with is not having enough registers. “We’d love for our cashiers to use two registers at one time, but sometimes that can be overwhelming,” Khatirine said, adding that the location has turned to Mashgin’s touchless self-checkout system.
Mashgin’s kiosks use computer vision to instantly ring up multiple items, speeding up transactions as much as 400 percent. “It isn’t going to get rid of labor, but it is going to redeploy labor, especially when we’re looking at new food offerings. It can help us develop faster customer service,” Khatirine said. (Learn more about Mashgin Touchless Self Checkout Systems on this episode of NATSO’s podcast.)
Schulte added that using technology to augment the labor force can make a huge difference in overall operations. “Stocking the cooler takes a long time. Often members have to take someone off the register to do that, and that person is running back and forth,” he said.
The technology can also improve employees’ experiences. “We have to think about our employees. When there is a huge line, that affects employees,” Khatirine said. “Where labor is hard to get nowadays, that will help make our employees happier.”
Getting to know customers is a top priority for Khatirine, and he recommends everyone gets on the register. “Every time I do it, you get this new perspective of what the customers are experiencing,” he said.
Food is a huge part of operations, and 3B’s Truck & Auto Plaza has focused on grab-and-go options. “We’re also looking at healthier options as well that may not be grab-and-go. When I work the register, it is astounding how many people want healthier options,” Khatirine said.
Khatirine also wants to find new and innovative ways to service drivers who are parked overnight or are parked and waiting for a load. That could include technology-based solutions with drivers ordering food on their phones and an employee delivering it in a golf cart. He also wants to find a way for the driver to order before arriving at the location.
“The customers nowadays just want to get in and out, so let’s figure out a way to serve them,” he said.
For Khatirine, the truckstop and travel plaza industry gives him the opportunity to learn something new every day. “New problems arise, and new problems get solved. Every single day there is something new that pops up that you don’t know about. It is an exciting industry,” he said. “There is so much to learn.”
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