Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Darren’s Great Ideas! for Independent Operators.
Eight Ways to Be A More Productive Leader at Your Truckstop
While no two days are ever exactly the same for truckstop and travel plaza operators, one thing that is consistent is there is never enough time to get everything done.
To succeed, independent operators need to excel at the basics while constantly strategizing and innovating for the future.
Here are eight ideas to be a more productive leader at your truckstop:
1. Create and Follow Checklists.
Treat your operation like a pilot treats his or her plane prior to every departure. A pilot follows a pre-departure checkout plan ensuring everything is operationally intact and you can do the same. Extend this practice to metrics as well to keep tabs on your operation’s success. We’ve shared a few checklists in the past. Use them as a springboard for creating checklists that work at your location.
- 4 Korners Walk through
- Merchandising and Marketing Checklist
- 15 Items Every Truckstop Operator Should Check Daily
- Top 10 Daily Metric Checks for Truckstop Operators
2. Do One-A-Day Truckstop Marketing.
Marketing is a very important component of an businesses’ success, but it can often be set aside to deal with day-to-day operational needs. As I’ve written about in the past, if you perform just one simple marketing item on the 200 business working days of the year, at the end of the year you will have done a lot of marketing. Use our ideas for one-a-day truckstop marketing as a start and then create your own list of marketing items.
3. Use Lunchtime Wisely.
Lunch time in our industry is one of the busiest time periods of the day and should be managed accordingly. With staff manning all the pay points as well as performing laser-focused customer service, it is not the time for management or staff to be taking breaks.
However, appropriately scheduled lunch breaks are a time when leadership can break bread with team members. Inviting an employee to lunch is a great time to find out what is REALLY going on. While some employees will share more than others, your goal should be to get him or her to feel comfortable reaching out to you with concerns. Also, hopefully you can learn some great ideas.
Other lunchtime ideas are to meet with vendors or department managers. Also, be sure to taste new food from the kitchen.
4. Set-up Technology to Send Automatic Updates.
Today’s point-of-sale systems provide dashboards and automatic updates. Identify a handful of important metrics that you review and have them sent to you automatically. For example, you can receive an email every day with your gallon numbers. Use these updates to stay focused on the important metrics.
Use calendar reminders to help you remember key follow-ups and initiatives. Send yourself voicemails, emails or texts with details, pictures, and reminders. Use the technology at hand to make you more productive.
5. Improve Working Remotely Skills.
Most truckstop operators spend their days putting out fires. Carving out significant chunks of time to get any real work done is a challenge.
With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to work remotely. You can now keep an eye on the business directly from your smartphone using an inexpensive security camera system, for example.
Do your strategizing and good thinking on your way to work or on your way home on a regular basis. Or if you would just rather blast out in the car on your commute, do it before you start or end your day. This allows you to prepare for the day as you arrive and decompress from the day as you depart.
During working hours our focus is tactical, when you are away from work the freedom from the “fire” allows for improved strategic thinking. It is difficult to think big picture when the course of the day forces you to be in the weeds, so finding a time to be strategic is the key to successful big picture thinking.
6. Manage Vendors.
Managing vendors can suck up a lot of truckstop operators’ time.To make sure this time is productive, here are some ideas:
I’ve never understood why it is status quo in the industry for vendors to stop by at any time they choose. Instead, give regular vendors a specific time slot for them to deliver goods. Be sure to group of all of these appointments together.
Make sure vendors know they must call ahead at least 24 hours in advance. That way you can plan for their arrival and block out time so you can give them your full attention. Ideally have them email information on new or sale items before visiting so you can prepare.
Also, don’t forget to collaborate with vendors to increase your truckstop sales.
7. Hire Good Managers and Meet with Them Regularly.
In all my truckstop visits, one thing I have seen consistently is that really great owners and general managers know that they need to hire good managers to excel. Also, they take the time to support their managers by meeting with them regularly. They use the meetings to go over things like metrics, new policies and labor issues.
8. Call a Colleague for Advice.
Whenever you are stuck, there is always another manager to call for advice. Get to know your colleagues at The NATSO Show using keynote speaker Thom Singer’s networking advice. The NATSO Show 2015 will be held Feb. 16 - 19 at the Wynn Las Vegas. Instead of waiting until February to meet more operators, attend the upcoming NATSO Show Bonus Tues., April 29 2014 at the DAS Companies Travel Center Show & Sale in Lancaster, Pa.
/// Read more Darren's Great Ideas for Independent Operators posts here.
Join the conversation! Tell us in the comments what productive tools you use to make sure you have time innovate for the future? Are there any checklists or best practices your location relies on?
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