Feature Article - October 2009
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Money Matters

Tips for Expanding Your Food Service & Concession Profits

By Emily Tipping

Tip #3: Make It Work for You

The good news is that, to a certain degree, your items will market themselves. People will notice other patrons carrying around popcorn, and they might want some of their own. And sometimes just the delicious aromas of certain items will lure people to your stand. And popping corn not only smells good, but the sound will lure people toward your stand.

You can boost the marketing effort further by placing reminders throughout your facility or site that let people know what you're offering. Use eye-catching posters to promote special deals or themes for the season.

At your stand, you can set up displays that further reinforce your marketing effort. Make sure your signage is attractive. Sometimes you can also find machines that boost the look of your stand and your marketing effort as well.

Is your concession located at a school or college? Consider decorating the stand with the team's colors and logos. This is especially important if your stand is raising funds for the team. It serves to remind your customers that this is its purpose.

Another way to theme your stand is by paying attention to the season. As more and more people focus on seasonal foods, you can play into the trend by offering seasonally appropriate items at your stand. How about caramel apples and hot apple cider in the fall? Hot chocolate as the weather turns even colder? Snow cones, smoothies and fresh-squeezed lemonade in the summer?

Take this seasonality one step further and offer items that are specifically themed to go with holidays and events. You could provide orange cotton candy at Halloween. On the 4th of July, you could make red, white and blue snow cones.

Does your facility itself have a theme? Rename your items to fit that theme, or even consider offering foods that fit the theme. For example, if your waterpark has a tropical theme, provide tropical fruit smoothies.

Another way to make it work for you is to combine items and offer "special deals" to up your profits. Offer a variety of sizes, and combine the larger sizes into these deals. Customers will perceive that they are getting a bargain and will spend more to get the combo. There's a reason you find this practice in movie theaters and fast-food joints!