Eight Great Ideas from Truckstop Operators at NATSO Connect

The Great Ideas! for Independent Operators Workshop is one of the most popular events at NATSO Connect, and the 2019 session continued the long tradition of open, thoughtful sharing among those within the industry. Operators from across the country brainstormed, collaborated and learned from their peers during the workshop.
Eight Great Ideas from Truckstop Operators at NATSO Connect

Sacramento 49er offers referral bonuses, which are paid out after the new hire has been with the company for six months.That encourages the person making the referral to recommend quality candidates who are more likely to stick around.

Photo: Tristen Griffith, Sacramento 49er, Sacramento, California (left)

Coffee Cup Fuel Stops has helped boost retention by creating its staffing schedule further in advance.That gives employees a better work/life balance.

Photo: Tom Heinz, Coffee Cup Fuel Stops, Sioux Falls, SD (left)

Davis Travel Centers has an operations meeting every Thursday to discuss operations issues.As part of the meeting, staff review comments left on Yelp and Google and try to address them together, so everyone is involved.

Photo: Rex Davis (left) and Bill Decker, Davis Travel Center, Stony Creek, Virginia

Darren Schulte, vice president of membership at NATSO, recommended operators spend an hour watching the store and looking at who is coming in and buying. He said conversion rates are much lower than people expect. On the gas side, about 11 percent of customers come in and buy something. On the diesel side, it is about 28 percent.

Photo: Darren Schulte, NATSO

Management at Deluxe Truck Stop found some customers didn't want to come into the store, so the location installed Comdata readers on the fuel islands, which keeps customers happy and can speed service.

Photo: Nick Wollenman, Deluxe Truck Stop, Saint Joseph, Missouri

Don Quinn, a vice president at NATSO, recommended operators drive by their locations at night.“You literally have to outshine your competitor,” he said.

Photo: Don Quinn, NATSO Services

DEF sales drive diesel sales, and operators can receive price benefits from taking full transports of loads, which are 6,000 gallons. Chris Heinz, director of operations and finance at Heinz Inc. for Coffee Cup Fuel Stops, recommends operators put in a 10,000-gallon tank so they can take a full truckload even if they still have DEF on hand.

Photo: Chris Heinz, Coffee Cup Fuel Stops, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Eco Travel Center offered free meals to its employees this year. Employees were not only appreciative of the perk but also provided reviews and feedback for the restaurant, making it a win-win situation.

Photo: Mike Renfro, Eco Travel Plaza, Crossville, Tennessee

Bonus ideas: Great Ideas! for Independent Operators Workshop Pep Rally Co-Host Robin Puthusseril welcomed everyone to the workshop gave a special shoutout to the industry veterans. As she said, these folks are a wealth of knowledge and love to help, so NATSO Connect is a special time to pick their brains.

Photo: Robin Puthusseril, Greater Chicago Truck Plaza, Bolingbrook, Illinois

The Great Ideas! for Independent Operators Workshop will be back again during NATSO Connect 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Save the date, Feb. 6–9, 2020, and plan to attend.

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