Fuel for Thought
Lack of parking. Paid parking. Paid Reserve parking. Overpriced. Unhealthy food choices. Trashy parking lots. A small sampling of the complaints from truck drivers regarding truck stops. While many drivers seem to believe it is an “us against them” situation, please consider both sides.
From the driver’s perspective, many feel truck stops owe them something in return for buying their fuel. Truck stops do offer many different incentives to drivers for frequenting their locations, but from a business perspective, drivers need to realize that there are limits that have to placed on the “freebies” offered in order for the truck stop business to make a profit, remain in business and be available for drivers in the future. “Freebies”, like parking at many locations, are not “free”. Someone has to build and maintain these lots at a cost. Where parking is free to the drivers, the truck stop has figured those costs into their products and services. Where parking is paid for by drivers, the truck stops may have a higher cost to operate and in order to be competitive they are not able to provide “free” parking. If you are old enough to drive a truck, then you should have already learned that nothing is free.
Mom and pop truck stops, as well as the big 3 chains, have to walk a fine line between what they can provide for free to drivers and what they cannot.
From the truck stop’s perspective, they are in business and without customers, they would be out of business. Customers are defined as those who patronize (pay) another for their goods or services. Parking and leaving has no value to the truck stop if no purchase has been made.
What about all the fuel I buy? Well, you received goods (fuel) for the exchange of funds with the truck stop. Technically, that is where your transaction ends, BUT, it has become customary over the years for truck stops to provide “extra” incentives to get you to choose their facility over their competitor. Extras like showers, discounts, loyalty points, free coffee, etc., and yes, even a place to park (so you can purchase additional items from their shop, store and restaurants). It was never intended to be free parking (this isn’t a game of Monopoly). Providing parking was intended to give customers a place to park their trucks while they patronized the establishment.
I am not a proponent of paid parking, in fact, I avoid it every chance I get, but as a business owner, I understand why it has come about.
If you are an owner operator (a business owner), and truck stops are businesses that you believe should give you something extra for your fuel purchases, like free parking, my question is, what do YOU give YOUR customers for free when they buy your services?
Side Note: I find it a bit ironic that many of the same people who complain about paid parking are the same ones that complain about the dirty parking lots, high prices in the stores and unhealthy food in the restaurants. For all the complaints, they still want to be there...but for free.
See you down the road,