Strong relationships between vendors and truckstop and travel plaza operators can go a long way to ensuring success, and those within the industry said reliable communication and clear expectations can build trust and benefit both parties.
“Our industry suppliers see the very best operators and also see those that have a vast opportunity for improvement. Turn their knowledge into your opportunity,” said Don Quinn, vice president of NATSO Services.
For Sean Flynn, general manager of Flynn’s Truck Plaza in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, maximizing a vendor relationship means agreements have to be a good deal for both sides. “The vendor has to be able to move more product in my stores,” he said. “You have to have a vendor that wants that category to work best. If vendors are just pushing their own products, that sometimes doesn’t work well.”
Although vendors and operators both strive for positive interactions, managing relationships with a vendor can be harder than one would think, said Keith Wade, operations director at Petro Dodge City #397 in Hanceville, Alabama. What’s more, relationships can vary based on the type of vendor. “For instance, a direct-store-delivery guy like the Frito Lay, the Coke, the Pepsi, those are more structured relationships,” Wade said. “Where my good relationships come in are the truck accessory distributors.”
Flynn agreed that operators tend not to have much of a relationship with their larger, contract-based vendors. “It is basically just a contract deal,” he said.
However, Wade said he has a lot of trust in his truck accessory distributors, such as DAS. “They want to sell products just as much as you do,” he said, adding that distributor vendors are good at keeping him up-to-date on changes in their offerings as well as within the industry.
Wade added that his distributor vendors are good about letting him know what they can offer. “You have to build a really good relationship with them and trust them,” he said, adding that vendors can help keep merchandise new and fresh.
Most vendors can provide operators with sales reports, which can give insight as to what they are selling to a specific location and how that compares to others, Quinn said…