Regardless of the size of your trucking fleet, it makes good business sense to participate in a rewards program. All major truck stop chains, including Pilot Flying J, Love’s and TA/Petro, have cards that reward you with redeemable “points” for fueling up at their locations. With the right set of rewards, your drivers can save a significant amount of money on everything from food to showers while they are on the road.
Not all rewards programs are equal. As a fleet owner, you need to examine which program is the best fit for your company. Researching the Internet and asking other truckers what rewards card they recommend are good initial steps. However, you may need to dig a little deeper in assessing which program offers the greatest value for your company.
Here are six key questions to help guide your evaluation of a rewards program:
How much can you save on fuel?
Truck stop chains developed rewards cards as an incentive for commercial drivers to fuel up, eat and buy merchandise at their locations. With a rewards card, you accumulate points for all the gallons of diesel you purchase from a particular chain. You can then redeem those points to buy food and products anywhere in the chain’s network of fuel stops.
Your selection of a rewards card should go hand-in-hand with the best discounts you receive on your fuel card. For example, if a particular travel center chain offers you savings of 9 cents per gallon through your fuel card, it makes sense to accumulate points through that chain’s rewards card. The result is a classic win-win—you are saving money on fuel and earning rewards for other purchases as well.
How large is the network?
In addition to fuel savings, you need to research the size of a truck stop chain’s network before committing to its rewards card. Ideally, the chain will have hundreds of locations to choose from in the region where your fleet operates. Having that coverage is important because purchasing diesel at stops where you don’t earn rewards will indirectly cost your company money. Also, most truck stop chains offer greater rewards the more gallons you purchase in a given month.
How do you earn and redeem points?
Most truck stop chains reward one point—equal to $0.01—for each gallon of fuel purchased. However, the chains vary greatly in how you can use those points. Some require redeeming points via coupons. In other cases you may have to accumulate hundreds of points before you can use them to make a purchase. Always read the fine print for each rewards card you consider—many have points that expire if they are not used within a year.
Your drivers are too busy to deal with a lot of rules regarding points. The rewards program that has the fewest qualifiers for using points is often your best option.
How are the tiers structured?
Most rewards programs are tiered based on the amount of fuel your drivers purchase. For example, purchasing more than 1,000 gallons per month may elevate your fleet to a level in which it earns “double points” for each gallon.
When assessing rewards programs, consider the size of your fleet and how much fuel it purchases in a given month or even a year. A rewards card offering tiers that your company can realistically reach could be the right choice.
What other perks are offered?
Does an awards program offer products, services and partnerships that are meaningful to your drivers? For example, clean showers, good coffee and modern conveniences like free WiFi are all essentials to a long OTR haul. Additional perks like special rewards during a birthday month or discounts at popular restaurant chains can also add to a card’s appeal. Choosing a good rewards program might not just save your company money, it might help you retain drivers at a time when industry turnover is at a record high.
Some programs provide specific benefits that are tied directly to the number of gallons your drivers purchase. Many rewards cards provide a credit for a free shower for every 50 gallons purchased. These credits add up as the gallons accumulate. Free access to clean, available showers is an important benefit to truck drivers. Look for a rewards card that offers the best shower program.
How good is the service?
Finally, you should choose a rewards program that aligns your fleet with a truck stop chain that provides consistent, reliable service across all locations. The chain you select will have a significant impact on your drivers’ satisfaction and quality of life on the road. Are the bathrooms and showers clean? Are the clerks friendly and helpful? Does the chain offer quality food, plenty of parking and a wide range of products? Ask for your drivers’ opinions about certain truck stops, and use that feedback to inform your decision on a rewards card.