Guest Column - April 2007
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Expand Your Stand

Easy ways to boost concession profits

By Erin Meyer

hile your concession operation may not necessarily be your facility's primary source of revenue, a successful snack bar can benefit your business in many ways. Patrons stay longer at locations that have meal and snack options. Having a great selection of concession items available will keep customers happy, satisfied and eager to return to your facility, again and again.

Additionally, your snack bar can be a fantastic source of revenue and can greatly enhance the profitability of your overall operation.

A well-planned and -operated snack bar will emerge to be a thriving business-within-a-business.

Start with selection

Menu planning is the first step to concession sales success. It is important to offer a variety of selections to give customers options, but equally important to follow the "keep it simple" principle. Too extensive a menu may require a large inventory or a high skill level for preparation.

There are seven basic categories into which concession stand fare is divided. These include:

  • Salty Snacks
  • Frozen Deserts
  • Gourmet Popcorn and Caramel Corn
  • Sweet Snacks
  • Beverages
  • Baked or Fried Snacks
  • Meat Entrees

Depending on the size of your operation, you may wish to offer items from each of these categories. However, consideration must be given to practicality. Snacks that are difficult to prepare could destroy the level of service, the overall quality and performance, and eventually, the profitability of many types of snack bars.

As you are planning, keep in mind factors like available staff, facilities and customer traffic volume.

Here is a checklist of basic questions to ask when considering the addition of a new menu item:

  • Will the new item compromise sales of other menu items?
  • Will sales of the new item be comparable in profit percentage to the average menu mix?
  • Will you need to eliminate an item to make room for new one? (If so, compare the profits of each.)
  • What skill level is required to prepare the item?
  • Is it easy to gauge the production of the new item? In other words, can your staff economically make a few for slow periods and rapidly expand to keep up with periods of high demand?
  • What are the inventory requirements? What logistical problems are involved?
  • Is there dependable service and support for the equipment nearby?
  • How well has this item worked out for a location just like your own? Is this documented?
  • Can you have a short test period or trial period to prove that the item works?

While it is important to carefully consider what new items to add to your menu, it is most critical to make sure that you do make additions. You will not prosper year after year with the same old game plan.