How RaceTrac Uses Temperature Monitoring Technology to Deliver on Its Mission

Chris Johnson
VP Strategy Americas

If my daughter, Zoe, and son, Ian, qualified for RaceTrac’s Rewards Program, they would be the Sultans of Soda! On Tuesdays and Thursdays after soccer practice, we often stop by the RaceTrac on the East West Connector or Bolton Road in metro Atlanta. We also regularly drop in at other RaceTrac locations while running errands over the weekend, on the way out of town for family vacations, and even while visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Florida. 

Photo courtesy of Chris Johnson

Why all these visits?  Two years ago, I began working with Josh Tate, Director of Operations, and Chase Roth, Portfolio and Special Projects Manager, at RaceTrac to assess how Disruptive Technologies' tiny wireless temperature sensors could drive operational efficiencies across RaceTrac's fleet of stores.  

While some of our family RaceTrac stops caused groans and eye-rolls, what started as business trips have become something much more special for Zoe, Ian, and me.

Having recently completed a groundbreaking rollout of the Disruptive Technologies automated temperature monitoring solution across all 580 RaceTrac locations, I wanted to reflect on how RaceTrac's customer service wins over families like ours every day and how technology frees up RaceTrac Store Associates' time to focus on creating an exceptional guest experience. 

A Special Kind of Mission

When you walk into the RaceTrac East West Connector store in Smyrna, GA, a welcome sign greets you with the message:

We are proud to serve and be a part of your neighborhood. You can count on us for fresh flavors and great service at a value. Smiles and fun… are on us!

As I watched the manager catch up with a father and son and hug the father before they left, I realized this wasn't just a welcome sign but a mission. And when an employee from the Bolton store helped Zoe and Ian get a slushy (aka Freeze Blast), I understood that RaceTrac doesn't serve customers; they host neighbors.

With automated temperature monitoring, the RaceTrac Associates are released from the routine task of checking the temperature of fridges, freezers, and hot and cold cases, leaving them free to deliver on their mission of providing their neighborhood with exceptional customer service.

A recent article from C-Store Dive suggests that with the challenges of hiring and retaining employees, businesses with purpose-driven missions will differentiate themselves; the friendly staff I have met at store after store suggests that RaceTrac is doing just this.  

53,000 Hours Saved Each Year

As RaceTrac and other C-stores expand their offerings, the time required to ensure their food and ingredients are stored at safe temperatures increases. Using conservative estimates, it would take RaceTrac over 53,000 hours annually to manually check the temperature of all their hot and cold cases, refrigerators, and freezers.

Five years ago, recognizing they could give back this time to their associates, RaceTrac installed wireless sensors to automate temperature monitoring for the first time. Like many early adopters, however, while they received several of the benefits they sought, RaceTrac also inherited the daunting task of managing a fleet of thousands of wireless sensors. The sensors needed replacing every few years after their batteries died, were damaged by the harsh environments they were stored in, and often went missing and had to be replaced. The solution to the problem had created another problem. 

A Next-Generation Solution for Next-Level Efficiency

In response to the challenges that companies like RaceTrac face, Disruptive Technologies has developed a family of long-range wireless sensors with a remarkable 15-year battery life. These sensors provide all the benefits operators seek without the typical burdens of deploying new technologies. 

While Zoe and Ian's smiles went a long way in winning over RaceTrac Associates, Josh and Chase needed hard proof that the Disruptive Technologies sensors performed as promised. RaceTrac took us through the paces in multiple store types, meticulously validating our sensors' accuracy, reliability, and durability. As importantly, they saw our Professional Operations Team in action as we planned, deployed, and validated each installation. As I often tell our partners: "A sensor is only as good as its installation."

Lessons Learned

While we are grateful for the leadership of RaceTrac and other early adopters, the simplicity and longevity of the Disruptive Technologies sensor solutions now offer a set-it and forget-it technology for convenience and grocery stores, no matter how basic or sophisticated their technical set-up may be. That said, there are still valuable lessons to learn from RaceTrac and others:

1. Look For a Partner—Not a Vendor

Just as RaceTrac aims to serve its guests with a smile, at Disruptive Technologies, we believe our service separates us. When facing difficult decisions or working to meet demanding deadlines, our joint commitment to service has helped us stay focused on the job of making guests' and associates' lives a little better in whatever way we can. 

2. Set and Quantify Your Goals

With RaceTrac and other partners, we start with clearly defined problems to resolve, such as reducing labor hours, nuisance alerts, resolution time, or food loss. Clear goals and objectives help gain broader organizational support and track the project's impact.

3. Nail It, Then Scale It

Start by deploying the technology across a representative sample of stores. This will help you identify and resolve any unavoidable issues encountered in a fleetwide deployment. Then, with careful plans and a professional installation, you will be prepared to scale the solution smoothly across your enterprise.

4. Look to the Future

While many Disruptive Technologies partners have started using our sensors to monitor cold and hot cases, when you deploy sensors with a 15-year battery life, you are deploying a technology that will serve your stores for the next generation. With your temperature compliance needs covered, think about how you can drive other operational efficiencies using a family of sensors to identify failing equipment, reduce energy costs, monitor store doors, and much more.

Reflecting on the work we recently completed with RaceTrac, I am excited by the opportunity to bring our sensor technology to more convenience and grocery stores. Freeing RaceTrac Associates from routine tasks with automated temperature monitoring is not just about efficiency but also about creating space for genuine human connection and exceptional customer service. Together, we're improving processes and making a real difference in helping RaceTrac deliver on its mission—one smile at a time.

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