Today’s consumers are increasingly open to trying new products, which is providing a boost to private labeling that allows truckstops to buy products directly from the manufacturer and then place their own branding on the package. Private labeling of products can increase profits as well as customer loyalty.
Darren Schulte, vice president of membership for NATSO, said several truckstop and travel plaza operators have developed successful private labeling programs and he noted that some products naturally lend themselves to private labeling. “One of the easy ones to do is bagged candy. No one truly cares what the name on it is,” Schulte said. “Water is always simple. Just get with a local water bottler in your community, and you can typically sell water for a really, really inexpensive price.”
The right products can also depend on a company’s history or geographic location. “If you look at Kwik Trip or Wawa, you see that they got started in dairy and today they do a lot of private labeling of their dairy products,” Schulte said.
Love’s started with a private label oil and also has its own private-branded jerky, which it started 30 years ago, Schulte said.
NATSO members with a kitchen can use the space to produce hot and cold grab-and-go items. “Use the space to create a commissary. Profits are significantly more, you can control the food better, and you’re paying yourself,” Schulte said, adding that private labels allow operators to generate more profit and increase productivity.
Moreover, food prepared in-house can look better. “If you’re able to package your own products and they look fresher, the customer feels like they are getting a better, healthier product,” Schulte said. “People are often willing to pay more if they feel like they are getting a better product.”
Schulte suggested operators talk with their food service and grocery providers to find out which products are available to be privately labeled. “They carry a lot of generic products for people to use, so just ask them. First, find out what is available and where they have expertise,” Schulte said, adding that vendors can also provide guidance on which private label products are working and which aren’t....