About the Truck Stop and Truck Plaza Industry
Typically, consumers believe convenience stores and truck stops or truck plazas are all the same, but for professional truck drivers and the overall trucking industry, they definitely are not. To understand the truck stop and truck plaza industry, understanding the trucking industry is essential. Most people claim that the trucking industry is the lifeblood of the United States economy – without it, the country would not have access to many of the food and retail luxuries we all love so much. Not only is the trucking industry vital to daily urban living, but it has also been a major employer for thousands of workers.
So what does this mean for the truck stop and truck plaza industry? Quite simply, it is directly correlated to the trucking and transport industry. Since the recession, the trucking industry has rebounded and gas prices have lowered, leading to many more trucks on the road. This has led to the positive state of the truck stop and truck plaza industry, but it has also made it much more diverse and competitive. Today, most of the larger truck stop chains dominate the industry, but there are plenty of changes taking place in the industry. Mom and pop truck stop and truck plazas still have a chance to compete – if they are willing to revolutionize their business to stay up to date with trucking demands.
Truck Stop and Truck Plaza Industry Trends
Overall, the truck stop and truck plaza industry has done pretty well, but small mom and pop truck stop and truck plazas are struggling to compete. For most small truck stop owners, businesses face high payment processing fees coupled with higher fuel prices than the large chains. Many local truck stop and truck plaza businesses are realizing quickly the dilemma they will face within the next few years, and the truck stops and truck plazas that will be quick to change with consumer demands and evolving technology will still stand a chance against incumbent truck plaza and truck stop chains. Some of the biggest issues that professional truck drivers are demanding for today include:
- Technology: As mentioned above, many truck stop and truck plazas are facing a technological revolution that has been difficult to adopt. For other major retail and consumer based industries, technology has proved to be a permanent business practice, but catering to the needs of professional truck drivers is proving to be quite difficult. Overall, these are the top technology systems that truck drivers and truck stop owners are transitioning into, however the every truck stop and truck plaza business owner will have to take a real look at their customer base and preferences to decide which software’s and technologies will benefit their truck stop business the most.
- Customer Feedback: Many large chain truck stop and truck plazas are starting to implement the most effective customer feedback systems available. What this looks like for each individual business may vary depending on budget and preferences, but truck stop and truck plaza businesses are already implementing basic products such as tablets in key areas throughout the truck stop or truck plaza. For example, Coffee Cup Fuel Stops has installed multiple “customer satisfaction” kiosks throughout their locations that allow customers to rate their experience and provide instant feedback to managers. This allows truck stops and truck plazas to maximize efficiency and increase customer satisfaction – arguably one of the most important aspects of running a successful truck stop or truck plaza business.
- Grab and Go: As mentioned above, truck stop and truck plaza businesses are directly correlated to the trucking industry – and the trucking industry is incredibly fast paced. Professional truck drivers are constantly on the go, which is why more and more truck stops and truck plazas are focusing on optimizing grab and go features throughout their stores. More often than not, truck stop and truck plaza businesses offer food by partnering with major chains (Subway, McDonalds, etc). Now, most of these chains offer mobile apps that allow consumers to order before they arrive, thus speeding up the process. Many successful truck stops and truck plazas are focusing on creating more innovative ways to increase customer satisfaction through speeding up the entire process.
- Attracting Customers: The outside of a truck stop or truck plaza is typically the first thing a consumer sees, so many large truck stops and plazas have implemented strategic signage, attractive outside displays, and digital signs that allow managers to constantly update their fuel prices remotely. There are also a variety of other tools that truck stop and truck plaza business owners are using to draw in more customers; the most exciting new technology that is being implemented in a variety of retail industries are beacons. Beacons can be attached to any wall, countertop, retail item, and so forth, that then transmits messages or prompts to a smartphone or tablet. This allows truck stop and truck plaza business owners to collect as much consumer data as possible, as well as providing managers information on how long consumers were in a particular area of the store. This technology is allowing truck stops and truck plazas everywhere utilize big data effectively.
- Cloud Based Systems and Backup Systems: While the internet has done wonders for the truck stop and truck plaza industry, it also comes with some downfalls. The largest issue truck stop and truck plaza companies have faced in the past is their internet service crashing. Depending on how long it takes for the system to come back up, many businesses can lose thousands of dollars of profit – a major hit for any business, but particularly for small truck stop and truck plazas. Through the use of multiple internet providers and cloud based systems, many truck stop and truck plaza businesses are able to have alternative internet if one system goes down, but also back up all of their important information through the cloud. There are also a variety of cloud based systems to increase profitability, maximize efficiency, and eliminate tedious tasks.
- Healthy Activities and Food: The growing health craze is here to stay in the United States. The country is still greatly struggling with the obesity epidemic and many other prevalent diseases that are affecting so many people. Truck drivers tend to struggle with obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, diabetes, and other weight related illnesses. Professional truck drivers today are demanding access to healthier food alternatives, which many successful truck stop and truck plaza businesses have implanted – but it does not stop there! Many truck stop businesses are focusing on adding even more health-related options for truck drivers through workout opportunities, gyms, and walking trails. This is a huge issue that has plagued the trucker industry, but strategic truck stop businesses are working hard to change it, all while increasing profits.
- Safety and Theft Prevention: Unfortunately, cargo theft is a huge issue amongst the trucking industry. A Florida Highway Patrol Officer cited 235 cargo thefts in Florida alone in 2012, totaling a vehicle value of $10.5 million and cargo value of $14.9 million. That’s only one state. This major issue has led to many truck stop and truck plazas creating more safe areas for driver’s trucks. That may be a security system and gate for truckers resting, or another innovative solution – either way, professional truck drivers and their employers will be willing to pay for a safe area to rest and eat.
Types of Truck Stop Loans
|Bank||6-10%||3-7 years||14-30 days|
|SBA||6-10%||3-7 years||10-30 days|
|Line of Credit||5-15%||1 – 3 years||7-30 days|
|Alternative||6-25%||1-5 years||5-7 days|
|Cash Advance||1.16-1.55||3-24 months||1-3 days|
Truck Stop SBA Loans
SBA lenders offer truck stops long term financing for their commercial real estate, as well as providing financing for working capital and other business loan uses. SBA financing comes in both term loans and lines of credit.
Alternative Truck Stop Lending
Alternative truck stop loans are almost always used for immediate and mid term working capital purposes rather than purchasing or refinancing the business property. Rates start in the high single digits, but can go all the way up to 25%.