ATLANTA — Since 1934, RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. has been bringing its “Whatever Gets You Going” style of convenience to guests, operating under the mission of making consumers’ lives simpler and more enjoyable. It is with this approach to business that the Atlanta-based convenience store retailer is now broadening its values to include the professional trucking community.
RaceTrac is focused on growing its number of travel centers and recently cut the ribbon on its third travel center location. Situated on U.S. Highway 27 in Davenport, Fla., the 8,100-square-foot travel center is part of an exciting new brand in RaceTrac’s portfolio of stores, Executive Director of Engineering and Special Projects Cory Hopkins told Convenience Store News.
“Extending [our] values to the professional truck-driving population is a logical next step for us. These individuals offer so incredibly much to our communities by virtue of what they do day in and day out, and RaceTrac wants to be a part of serving their needs,” he said.
Being new to the travel center channel poses challenges as well as opportunities, which is why RaceTrac has assembled an internal team of stakeholders that is focused heavily on developing travel centers that “wow” guests from every angle.
“In the short term, we will learn the expectations of the industry in pursuit of designing a facility that resonates with our guests and drives the value they need — from having the right product and service mix to maximizing speed of service to get them back to work as quickly as possible,” Hopkins explained.
Superior Location & Superior Offers
RaceTrac is abiding by the old adage, “location, location, location,” when it comes to strategically expanding its travel center network.
“Though the professional driver might be willing to make an extra turn or two to get to a superior operator, it is critical to be along their route,” Hopkins noted. “There are plenty of top-notch travel center operators out there, so finding a really good site in an underserved sub-market is important.”
RaceTrac’s travel center prototype is roughly 2,500 square feet larger than its standard c-store, providing ample room for “impactful offer expansion,” including hot food, trucker merchandise, larger pack sizes, indoor seating, expanded restrooms, truck scales, truck parking, and high-flow diesel.
Its newest travel center in Davenport offers: indoor seating and 600 square feet of patio space with covered and uncovered seating; 36 truck parking spaces; 16 front-canopy fueling stations; an extended canopy with seven lanes for high-flow diesel with bulk diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) for professional drivers; merchandise specifically catered to the professional driver such as tools, hardware, apparel and electronics; and free Wi-Fi.
Inside its travel centers, RaceTrac also offers professional drivers a wide selection of fresh, on-the-go food and beverage options. Among them are:
- Grab-and-go pizza and sandwiches made in-house with hand-selected, high-quality ingredients;
- Fried chicken tenders and chicken sandwiches;
- Whole and cut fruit and salads, all made daily and delivered fresh;
- Six blends of freshly ground, freshly brewed “Crazy Good Coffee” accompanied by popular creamers, sweeteners and toppings;
- A Swirl World frozen treat station with a variety of ice creams, yogurts and sorbets, plus up to 28 toppings that include a variety of chocolates, candies and fruits; and
- Classic fare that RaceTrac guests know and love, including Nathan’s Famous 100-percent premium all beef hot dogs, tamales with traditional corn husk wraps and stuffed with seasoned pork, and taquitos featuring battered and fried tortillas filled with meats, cheeses and delicious spices.
According to Hopkins, RaceTrac’s travel center teams include more associates to better serve the size of the offer and to ensure the facility remains safe, clean and well-stocked.
“We have seen steady growth in both inside and fuel sales since opening our travel centers, suggesting that our offer resonates with this new guest type,” he said. “Fortunately, the professional driving community offers a great amount of feedback, letting us know what works for them and what does not. We take this feedback to heart and incorporate these learnings as we continue to innovate. Guests have emphasized the high level of store team engagement, our truck parking, cleanliness of the facility, and our delicious food offer.”
Future Growth Plans
RaceTrac plans to lean heavily into the travel center channel and has ambitious goals to build new sites across the Southeast and beyond, Hopkins told CSNews. As part of the retailer’s ramped-up growth effort, five more travel centers are slated to open this year.
“Refining our offer to appeal to professional drivers as we grow is a top priority,” he said. “We at RaceTrac see the opportunity to leverage a lot of our organization’s existing infrastructure to support new growth into the high-flow diesel channel, even as we continue to expand our presence in the traditional c-store marketplace. Our network will continue to expand long-term and deliver a consistent guest experience throughout the Southeast and beyond.”
RaceTrac's first-ever travel center debuted in Lithia Springs, Ga., and its second is in Forest Park, Ga. The chain also currently operates more than 560 traditional convenience stores in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Tennessee.