Truck stops began as a location for semi-trucks to have a convenient place to fuel along the main truck lines across the nation. Now, they’ve evolved into full service, driver-centric, homes away from home for hard working drivers. The variety of amenities these modernized truck stops offer are seemingly endless. With all of the offerings available, how do you choose the right stops for you and your fleet? There are a number of things to consider as you make your choice. Here are a few general topics to consider that may help make each stop effective and efficient:
Independents vs Chain Stops
There are some amazing individually owned shops out there, but you can’t stop there for every fill-up over the road. Large truck stop chains offer more consistency across the nation. Fuel quality, amenities and what the chains offer to attract the drivers can be a deciding factor.
Saving $10-$15 dollars here and there does not seem like much, but over time it will add up to huge savings. A drink, a shower, a meal, a discount, all are there for you to use and stops that offer loyalty programs will offer it for free. When you are using the facilities and buying their fuel, they want you to use these programs. Take advantage of them.
Truck Stop Amenities
When you’re on the road, ask about amenities. Sometimes there are conveniences and resources that are not advertised on the floor of the truck stop. Ask how to use them and when the best ways and times are to take advantage. For example, a chiropractor may not be in the shop every day or during consistent hours, but the service can make all the difference if you plan for the times he/she will be there.
Fuel Quality and Consistency
Not all chains or independently owned stops will post their bio-fuel percentage. Not all stops get the volume of gallons to keep the fuel free from sediments and age-related fuel issues. Do your research. Being aware will give you the results you need in fuel economy and you’ll experience fewer maintenance issues. If they will not or cannot give you the information, buyer beware.
Relationships with Outside Programs
The time spent at truck stops is critical to the effectiveness of a carrier company. Are there additional reasons to spend your time and money with the stops you choose? Do they have a tire shop? If not, do they have a relationship with a shop that will give you discounts or priority? Also see if they have local food, services, load boards, and other relationship that will be an advantage to your business.
Truck Stop Parking
It goes without saying that parking can be both a point of relief and a point of frustration. Take the time to look at the layout of the parking lots where you are looking to spend down time. You can save a lot of aggravation just by finding a layout that is set up well for you. Also, be aware there are chains that have spot reservation capability.
Along with all of the items listed above, here are a couple of intangible items that should also be considered:
Trust Your Instincts
Your experience and observation abilities will take you a long way when deciding on which truck stops to use. Some stops are just not well run, not clean and not a place for your business to support. Stick to the stops you can see take care of their facilities and customers.
Consider Your Drivers’ Needs
Good drivers are not easy to find. If your drivers have a good reason to go to a favorite place, acknowledge that and show appreciation for their work by letting them go where they are comfortable and happy.
Cost and Savings
As important as price is to the bottom line, it’s not the end all reason to use a specific truck stop. Don’t be impulsive – shop and compare. Region and quality can make a huge difference to the highest cost you will incur at any stop.
Remember that your truck stops along your routes are there to help you refuel, rest, and recharge. Plan your trips. Pick your truck stops on purpose to improve your experience and profits.
The England Carrier Services (ECS) division offers a variety of services for carriers ranging from maintenance to support. As ECS members, carriers have access to nationwide discounts on fuel and tires from dedicated team members who are committed to finding the best price. ECS also provides factoring services with benefits such as same-day funding to a bank account or fuel card. These options allow carriers the freedom to focus on growing their business while saving time and money.