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Author Topic: Flying J charging to dump tanks?  (Read 6151 times)
belfert
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2010, 10:36:23 AM »

A rest stop in Nevada has a new system for dumping tanks.  They have a shallow through running across the driveway.  You simply center your dump valve over the trough and open the valve.  The waste runs down the trough to the sewer.  When done there is a pedal you depress and fresh water washes down the trough.

I thought it was a lot better than dealing with the waste hose and all that.  I'm sure there are plenty that would want to see the waste, but it doesn't bother me.  I just be sure I wash my hands after dumping.

I have no idea how rain water doesn't swamp the sewage system since the drain is always open.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
Sean
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2010, 11:35:03 AM »

It may only cost Flying J 50 cents for the water and sewer, but what about their other costs?  That truck stop didn't just build itself.  I bet keeping the dump operational probably costs as much as the water and sewer bill.  Someone has to unclog it when it gets clogged.  Just taking your money costs money although you're probably not buying only a dump. ...  I do understand why they would charge $5 if they charge anything.

and

... its more than a little disingenuous to suggest that the only cost to the dump operator is the water tax.  The biggest cost to any business is labour ...


By that reasoning, a 20-oz Pepsi from the fountain should also cost $5.  After all, it costs a lot just to take your money, and they had to build the C-store, install the soda fountain, etc., and pay some poor guy to clean up the sticky soda mess, and also the cup that I just crumpled up and dropped in the parking lot because I am a slob.

Maybe that's a bad example, because a Pepsi really is marked up several hundred percent.  Whereas a gallon of fuel has virtually no markup whatsoever -- fuel stations make all their money in the store, not at the pump.  So it really is a market dynamic, not a COGS issue; if they marked the fuel up even 10%, you would not buy it, but you are conditioned to pay 100% markups on bottled water and other items as a matter of course.  And, of course, the money has to be made someplace.

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... and you just have to glance at most dump sites to see that there is a lot of cleanup involved for the operator.


Well, right, and that's what I meant about bad apples.  The RV dump is self-service, and users are expected to be careful and clean up after themselves.  It's the handful of folks who are putting things down the drain that don't belong, not using hoses (yes, I really have seen people dumping with no hose into a dump that was meant for one), making a mess of the area and not cleaning it up or rinsing it down, etc. that are costing these operators extra time and money and getting dumps closed (or raising prices) around the country.

That being said, other than the pretty egregious problems like a plugged line due to foreign material, which probably requires a very expensive repair call, these operators are spending perhaps 5-10 minutes of labor on their dump stations per day -- if that.  I've been to several where it's looked like the dump has not received any attention from management for days or maybe weeks.  So you are talking about a labor cost, fully loaded, of maybe $5 per day, tops.  That would easily be accommodated in a dump fee much lower than $5.  By contrast, an entire 16" pizza at Flying-J costs just $10, or a Subway sandwich costs around $5, and both of those items have higher material and labor costs, for just a single item, than the dump station does for a whole day.  I would also mention that employees making sandwiches are required to wear just as much protective garb as those working on the dump station -- gloves, mask, hair net, etc. -- and have to wash their hands just as rigorously.

I also understand that it costs money to build a dump.  But we were talking about dump stations that, in most cases, were built years ago and have been free up to this point, so the amortization was completed long ago.  And I would hasten to point out that the cost of installing a dump station at a facility that already has sewer and water (when done as part of the initial construction) is far lower than, say, installing a pizza oven.

Clearly, what Flying-J has figured out, and I do not doubt it is true, is that they won't sell enough pizzas for $20 to make it worth doubling the price, or that they'd be sending people across the highway to Petro at that markup.  But that charging $5 to dump will not lose them as much business as they gain in dump revenues.  It is as simple as that.

As I wrote earlier, I have no problem with this; I am not ranting against Flying-J, nor advocating a boycott, nor anything else.  I'm simply saying that I, personally, will not pay $5 to dump unless I have no alternatives.  Just as I will also not pay $1 for $0.02 worth of purified water in a pretty bottle.  But neither will I be persuaded here that $5 to dump is barely offsetting their costs; it's not -- it's an enormous profit item, just like ice, which is what keeps your local 7-11 profitable.

Truck stops would charge for parking spaces, too, if they thought they could get away with it without driving their customers across the street.  Some of them already do; I remember a TA down in the LA area someplace (Tom?) that has a fence, a gate, and a guard/toll taker.  I think you got one night's credit for a fill-up of X gallons.

Neither parking spaces, nor dump stations, nor even rest rooms, are entitlements.  They are all provided by these businesses as a courtesy, in the hopes that the good will it generates will bring them business.  For the most part, it works -- we always try to spend money at any establishment that lets us park overnight, dump our tanks, or use the rest room.  In the past, FJ's generous dumping and RV parking policies have enticed us to favor them over their rivals in the truck stop business, including their new parent, Pilot.  If the new management continues to restrict these policies even further, that will clearly communicate how much (or little) they value the RV market, and we will respond accordingly.

Frankly, while we used to be able to count on FJ to have some of the most aggressive diesel pricing in any of their markets, lately we're finding consumer retail gas stations often have better prices, and even though it takes us more than three times as long to fuel at these stations, the difference on a tankful adds up to $20-$30, an amount we're not willing to leave on the table.

I know our diesel usage pales in comparison to the average owner-operator.  But it is the single largest line item in our budget, well over $10,000 annually.  Up until last year sometime, the lion's share of that number had been flowing to Flying-J.  Now I can't remember the last time we bought fuel there; when we use their facilities nowadays, we end up buying a meal or some C-store items as our token payment.

JMO, FWIW, YMMV, etc.,

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
« Last Edit: March 14, 2010, 11:38:32 AM by Sean » Logged

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belfert
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2010, 11:44:16 AM »

Sean, where do you find your fuel prices?  I have been a loyal Flying J customer because they used to usually have the best prices.  That doesn't appear to be the case anymore.

Most of the fuel stations at any interstate exit tend have the same prices.  It would be a crap shoot to try driving into town to try and find lower prices.  At 8 MPG a gallon of diesel doesn't go far. 

I don't drive anywhere close to as many miles as you do, but I figured if I paid 10 cents a gallons more for diesel for 500 gallons for my fall trip the total extra cost would be $50.  $50 is certainly worth something, but not enough to spend a lot of time finding the absolute best price.
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« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2010, 11:56:51 AM »

Sean, where do you find your fuel prices? 


I go to this site:
http://gasbuddy.com/

then choose the state, and under some states the metro area.  Then click the diesel button, and I get the lowest user-reported prices in the last 24, 36, 48, or 72 hours (depending on market).

As advance planning, I use this site:
http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/sbsavg.html

to determine which state(s) we will be passing through have the lowest average prices.  (I select the table, paste it into a spreadsheet program, and sort on diesel price.)  We have an enormous tank; we put in only enough to get us to cheaper fuel along the route, then tank up when we hit the lowest average price on our planned itinerary.

This site:
http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/wohdp/diesel.asp#graph_buttons

is also useful for regional planning, or to see if fuel is trending up or down; if we plan to be parked for a while, we'll fuel first if trending up, afterward if trending down.  When diesel is your biggest life expense, you use whatever tools you can to manage it.

I also use the web sites of all the truck stop firms to find their fuel prices, locations, and amenities such as dump stations.  Since sometimes you just need any truckstop, or you need to find the independents, I also use this site:
http://www.natso.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=TruckStop_Directory1&Template=/CustomSearches/TruckStop_Directoryd.cfm

which is a brand-independent site that lists all truck stops that are members of the trade organization.


HTH,

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com



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ruthi
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2010, 02:34:54 PM »

I guess if they start charging for dumping, we will pay it. As we are always on the road, never in a camp ground, this is usually who we use to dump and fill. It isnt too easy to hunt for the best price and to be able to get in and out of places with a bus and a long trailer. We usually get fuel every few days, and dump as well. We never have had a problem with using visa. We spend a lot of money with fj, and they get a lot of our money besides just fuel. Having a dump, for us, is their biggest draw. I sure would rather pay to dump, than lose that option. We sure have seen plenty of people abuse the priveledge of dumping, and we usually let them know that they need to clean up, and that they are ruining it for all of us.  Undecided
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2010, 02:39:11 PM »

I wonder how Flying J is enforcing the dump fee where they charge one?  Hand out a key after payment?  Combo lock?  Honor system?
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2010, 03:37:44 PM »

I wonder how Flying J is enforcing the dump fee where they charge one?  Hand out a key after payment?  Combo lock?  Honor system?


It's a vending machine.  Read the thread I linked in my first post.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2010, 04:00:56 PM »

The vending machine may be one of the reasons that they are now charging.  This may provide a way for charging for a dump to be somewhat profitable while having the facility manned by a collector may not have been cost effective.
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« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2010, 04:16:43 PM »

I rearly use Flying J here in Abilene for fuel, they are typically 10-40 cents higher than other suppliers. Now when on the road we usually stop for a fill, don't dump. But if we needed to, 5 bucks is pretty cheap if your tank is full of crap. Grin

One can go on and on about this or that to dump your crap, but why? It's just crap! Wink
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« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2010, 04:17:46 PM »

Sean, where do you find your fuel prices?  I have been a loyal Flying J customer because they used to usually have the best prices.  That doesn't appear to be the case anymore.

Most of the fuel stations at any interstate exit tend have the same prices.  It would be a crap shoot to try driving into town to try and find lower prices.  At 8 MPG a gallon of diesel doesn't go far.  

I don't drive anywhere close to as many miles as you do, but I figured if I paid 10 cents a gallons more for diesel for 500 gallons for my fall trip the total extra cost would be $50.  $50 is certainly worth something, but not enough to spend a lot of time finding the absolute best price.

Just Friday of this weekend I had a bus going across I-64 in Indiana (deadheading from Louisville to Cape Girardeau, MO) and at the Flying J in Evansville fuel was $3.15 a gallon. But across the street Pilot (which is generally 3 to 5 cents higher, but not lately) was $2.95 a gallon. And a 1/2 mile up the street at a "Quickie Mart" (brand not remembered) it was $2.86 now Flying J and Pilot also charge 6 to 9 cents a gallon more for credit cards while Mr. "Quickie Mart" usually does not!

I had 4 buses out going all over this weekend and I know 2 of them used over $1000 apiece in fuel ($1094 on one, and $1131 for the other) and the other 2 have not come in yet!
fuel is on the rise again big time and while we do plan for it sometimes it's hard to tell when quoting trips 3-6 months or more in advance what prices are going to be like! (but every spring when travel is at it's peak we see the large spikes then it settles down for a while!)
FWIW YMMV
Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2010, 04:20:24 PM »

Cheaper & quieter to tell her to get out! Wink

Maybe cheaper. Certainly not quieter!    Wink
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« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2010, 04:26:19 PM »

... now Flying J and Pilot also charge 6 to 9 cents a gallon more for credit cards while Mr. "Quickie Mart" usually does not!


I know this is not an option for you, BK, but for most of us, the credit surcharge can be avoided by fueling at the RV or car islands in front, rather than around back with the trucks.  FJ used to waive the surcharge at the truck islands if you have an RV card, but no longer.

-Sean
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« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2010, 04:29:57 PM »

Quote from: Sean
I know this is not an option for you, BK, but for most of us, the credit surcharge can be avoided by fueling at the RV or car islands in front, rather than around back with the trucks.  FJ used to waive the surcharge at the truck islands if you have an RV card, but no longer.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com


Right Sean, but they frown on us using the RV pumps as we are commercial (although I have done it! Wink)
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2010, 04:33:51 PM »


Frankly, while we used to be able to count on FJ to have some of the most aggressive diesel pricing in any of their markets, lately we're finding consumer retail gas stations often have better prices, and even though it takes us more than three times as long to fuel at these stations, the difference on a tankful adds up to $20-$30, an amount we're not willing to leave on the table.


My sentiments, exactly. As I said earlier, I seldom buy fuel from FJ. I like the smaller stations. Typically, they offer the same price as the truck stops, or even a couple cents less, and they usually don't
charge a premium for credit cards. I don't generally have a problem getting into them. Sometimes I do (Walmarts are usually off limits because of the stupid design around their pumps).

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« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2010, 04:37:46 PM »

BK, from what I've read in the trade press, perhaps you'd better start using a fuel surcharge in the charter calculation, fuel appears to have nowhere to go but up.

Customers are just going to have to accept that the cheapest rate is with a surcharge. The guy who gambles 6 months out on a price may win the charter and lose the profit to fuel rises.

Conversely, the customer also wins if fuel came down, and the charter outfit has to accept that the windfall needs to be shared.

I can't remember where those industry accepted fuel surcharges are published on the internet.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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