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Step by step: PFJ's new ‘cardless fueling’ streamlines transactions

Do you feel stranded on the fuel island, driver, with little hope of rescue? Well, Pilot Flying J has a lifeline. To simplify the fueling process and get drivers and trucks on their way more quickly, the myPilot app has been updated with a “major technology leap”: cardless transactions.

In a press briefing, PFJ Senior Vice President (Digital) and CIO Mike Rodgers explained that, depending on the fuel card and the trucking company, drivers may need to manually respond to as many 14 prompts at the pump—every time the truck needs fuel.

“There’s more than 40 billing card companies, thousands of fleets, and the combinations get complex,” Rodger said. “The app contemplates all that complexity and manages it for the driver and for the company.”

Based on the PFJ’s research and beta testing, the company expects that drivers who use myPilot’s new cardless fueling feature will save three to four minutes on every diesel transaction, knocking a 15 minute chore almost down to 10 minutes.

Additionally, as more and more PFJ customers use the app, the lines at the pumps will shrink as well—saving even more time.

“When you consider that we do about 125,000 transactions a day, that’s a lot of minutes per day that drivers can be doing what they need to, whether that’s taking a break or getting back out on the road,” he added. “Time is money for drivers, so anything we can do to speed that transaction up makes the lanes faster and everything flows smoother.”

PFJ uses the latest in security protocols and encryption, Rodgers noted, making the app more safe than a driver’s wallet with a handful of physical cards to be swiped with each transaction.

The company, the nation’s largest truck stop chain, began testing the cardless fueling feature with 600 of its own fleet drivers and a few select customers early this year, and will continue to enhance and refine myPilot based on user feedback, Rogers reported.

“We’re engaged with the driver,” he said. “We just want to make this the best utility they have in their pocket.”

Looking ahead, PFJ is further developing the concept of timed lanes, using sensors to record how long a truck stays on the fuel island and in the pull-through lane, compared to simply timing the actual transaction at the pump. The company currently is testing the technology, with large timer displays, at two locations. The goal is “self-policing” of fueling etiquette, Rodgers suggested, and PFJ would be willing to make a “substantial” investment to roll out such a system if the tests show a significant improvement in speed of service.

PFJ continues to work on a real-time parking availability function for its website and myPilot app, and hopes to incorporate “optimal” location information in the trip planning feature, he explained.

Similarly, PFJ will use the data generated by the myPilot app to further refine and enhance an understanding of driver preferences and broader operational trends, Rogers noted. The goal is to be able to customize information and “push” it to the driver, based on his or her habits and needs.

“Let’s face it, we sell a commodity—diesel fuel, food, showers. Our competitors sell the same things,” Rodgers said. “But we have the biggest network and we feel it’s very incumbent upon us to be an advocate for the driver and use creative ways to solve the problems they’re facing every day.”

PFJ’s myPilot app is available as a free download in Apple’s AppStore and on Google Play.

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