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Maximizing Revenue
For Your Facility

Concession Operations Generate Additional Income

覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧 By Barb Manselle 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧

One of a facility manager's many responsibilities is maximizing the potential revenue coming into their facility. There are several sources available to park and recreation professionals that can, with a little modification and innovation, produce additional revenue. Three of these sources are generated through the use of vending machines, electronic games and the operation of concessions stands.

Install Vending Machines and Electronic Games For Profit
Additional revenue can be developed by soliciting a contract for vending machine and electronic game services. Potential revenue becomes even more enhanced if you have other park district locations that also use vending machines or electronic games all machines can be included on the same contract for services. This arrangement gives any prospective service contract companies more potential, which, in turn, can lead to other avenues of opportunity for your park district.

In addition to facilitating increased revenue, the vending/games service contract companies can provide a bevy of other benefits. In the past, Peoria Park District has been the grateful recipient of numerous product donations, as well as cash donations and event sponsorships. They have also been able to appreciate a larger percentage of revenue from the vending machines and games. Increased revenue happened as a direct result of being able to provide more locations and potential revenue to the bidding companies. They also received better service on their machines and games.

Concessions Stands Lucrative Investments
Of the three ways to earn additional revenue for your facility, the concession stand has the largest potential. The

Illinois Parks and Recreation 14 September/October 1989

revenue realized from Peoria Park District's concession stand operations increased by 56% over budget in 1988. Through the end of May, 1989, they already show a 200% increase over budget. (These figures represent net profit, but do not show staff cost taken out, only the supplies' cost.)

Great Smelling, Taste Tempting Promotions
Two key concepts need to be remembered and utilized in the operation of a concession stand. Whenever possible, take advantage of two important senses sight and smell. Both of these senses act as stimuli to encourage patrons to purchase items.

The concession stand menu should be developed around items that smell good and/or look good. Examples of items that are good sellers, based on smell, are fresh popcorn, carmel corn, hot apple cider, tacos, super nachos and chili.

"Whenever possible, take advantage of two important senses sight and smell. Both of these senses act as stimuli to encourage patrons to purchase (concession) items."

People will smell these items being prepared and come over to investigate. While they are there, they purchase the items they can smell as well as other items such as soda or sandwiches. Your menu should also include items that allow you to realize a minimum of 50% net profit. The net profit is gross profit, minus any product and staff cost.

The menu should be simple. Prep time should be short and easy, minimizing staff time spent preparing the menu items. The more difficult and time consuming it is to prepare any menu items, the more of your net profit will be tied up in staff costs.

Keep on top of what the patrons of your facility are interested in buying. The hours that your facility is open should be taken into consideration when determining menu items. For example, if you have hockey or figure skating programs in the morning, include some breakfast items on the menu. Danish, donuts and muffins sell well and have a very short prep time. The Peoria Park District has patrons in their Owens Recreation Center facility for all three meal times. Therefore, their menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner items.

New Trends in Food Preparation Proceed With Caution
It's important to keep step with industry changes and new products. In some aspects, trends and fads are good at producing additional revenue. However, with trends and fads you have to carefully determine the amount of up-front money that is required to offer the product. Make sure you can recoup that cost before the trend or fad starts to fade.

Restaurant and food expositions and displays are a great source to find out what is new and selling well in other locations. Expositions and displays show the newest equipment available, as well as how to use it, and offer samples of food prepared with it.

Owens Recreation Center has identified several menu and equipment items that have proven very successful. For example, even though Owens Center offers year-round ice skating in a perpetually cool interior atmosphere, concessions staff have found soft serve and hand-dipped ice cream sells very well.

Owens Center patrons have become increasingly conscious of trimming fat and cholesterol from their diets. Hence, the Center purchased a new oven that uses hot air to prepare foods that are normally fried or baked. The oven can re-heat a food product and make it taste like it has been freshly cooked. French fries prepared in this oven taste like they are deep fried. Pizza and rolls come out tasting like they are freshly baked. Patrons have demonstrated their preference for a healthy alternative to fried foods the facility's pay back period on the oven lasted only five months!

Customer Service Has To Come First
Facility managers need to remember that customer service must be an integral part of any concession stand operations. Even with the best menu and best prices, if the service is slow and unfriendly, if the quality of the food is bad, you're further behind than when you started.

Create and maintain an appetizing and appealing eating area. Concession sales will increase dramatically if there is a close, convenient location for patrons to sit and enjoy the food they purchase.

"Even with the best menu and best prices, if the service is slow and unfriendly, if the quality of the food is bad, you're further behind than when you started."

The concession stand itself should also be appealing. It should have a bright, cheery and clean appearance. Many times patrons notice pictures or graphics before they take the time to read an entire menu board. Use plenty of visual aids to prompt higher sales. Mobiles are great eye catchers and can be very successful in promoting specials.

Unlimited techniques can be implemented to market concession stand operations: price specials, package deals, business promotions, weekly and/or daily specials and more.

Keep an eye out for new, innovative ways you can maximize the revenue from your concession operations. The revenue you raise goes a long way to assist in reducing a facility or program deficit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barb Manselle is Facility Manager of Owens Recreation Center, located within the Peoria Park District. Owens Center is a recreation center with two full sheets of ice, a pro shop, concessions operation and a multi-purpose room. Manselle has been with Owens Center since 1980.

Illinois Parks and Recreation 15 September/October 1989

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