How to Get Your School Concession Stand Ready for the Season
Pre-Season Prep for Your School Concession Stand
Whether it is a high school football game or elementary school play, school concessions stands are what make the experience better. Be a part of that experience by making sure your school concession stand is prepared for the upcoming season. Here are some things to consider when prepping your stand.
Know Your Budget
Before you stock your concession stand with products and equipment, you need to know your budget. If you are at an elementary or high school, you may have a booster group, PTO/PTA, or athletic director who controls the budget. At the college level, it may be governed by the school’s athletic department or director.
Once you have your budget, you’ll decide how to allocate it. You can now determine what kind of equipment you’ll purchase, how much of each product you’ll buy, if you can afford new equipment, etc. Your budget is important because it funds what your concession stand can be, do, and sell.
Now that you have the budget, you need to think about pricing. When it comes to pricing your products, do the math. Concession food costs can be as low as a quarter per serving, allowing great flexibility in pricing. Popcorn, for example, can yield up to 82% profit, even when sold at $1.50 per bag. You can earn more in one afternoon at the concession stand than a month’s worth of other fundraising efforts. This will help you choose the items best suited for your stand.
Take Care of Your Equipment
Your equipment is your biggest investment and most critical to your operation. Before you consider buying any new machinery, check the previous equipment's functionality. Make sure all equipment is correct regarding size and capacity. A good rule to follow is the “check and double-check” rule. This means checking all your equipment and then checking it again.
Testing all equipment in advance can give you a crucial advantage. You will be able to identify any potential problems and issues ahead of the season. This will help guarantee that your stand will run smoothly.
Once you have adequate equipment, it is time to clean. It is important to clean your equipment because grease and debris can affect performance. When you have long lines during the season, you do not want your equipment to be underperforming.
Manage Your Inventory
In addition to equipment, stocking supplies is crucial when it comes to prepping for the season. Before you consider buying any new products, explore the remaining supplies from the previous season. When doing this be sure to check the expiration dates on any perishable foods.
After you have assessed the current supplies, start thinking about what products you need. You’ll want to make sure you’re stocked up on all the favorite foods. Review your record from the previous year and create a plan for ordering your most popular items. Don’t forget about upcoming events you are responsible for, such as homecoming or the state championships, and plan to order enough supplies to meet the expected demand. We recommend sticking with known profit-makers. Foods like popcorn, hot dogs, and nachos should be your core items. These are easy to make with user-friendly equipment, and you can upsell by creating special combos with drinks and offering add-ons like chili on hot dogs for more sales.
Others to consider adding to the stand are pre-packaged items. These items add convenience for both you and the customer. Think about investing in containers or bags for popcorn, cotton candy, or caramel corn. These products are ones you can make in advance and have on display ready for customers to grab-and-go.
Although, everyone loves crowd favorites like popcorn, hot dogs, or nachos consider enhancing these traditional products. You can try out new cotton candy flavors, add seasonings for popcorn, or all kinds of dips for pretzels. You can try new recipes such as rainbow popcorn or red velvet funnel cakes. Adding new items could be a great way to attract attention for your concession stand and generate additional sales.
Finally, do not forget about materials such as plates, bowls, cups, napkins, utensils, and other concession supplies. Your customers will need these to enjoy the meal you have provided for them.
Prepare Your Team
Whether they are hired employees or parent and student volunteers, you need to make sure your school concession stand’s team is ready to go. To have a successful stand, your level of customer service is key. So, it is important to have the right team. You want a team who is happy and excited to be a part of the stand. Just make sure they know what they are getting themselves into. It is important to be clear about the time commitment you will require from your team. If you have volunteers running the stand, make sure they understand their responsibility. Organize your volunteers early so you are not scrambling when it comes to the actual season. Make a volunteer sign-up sheet and schedule to post at your school or email out to parents and students. Send out the schedule before the season starts to remind volunteers of their commitment.
After you have your team ready to go, make sure they are prepared for the season to start. Consider starting your season off with a training day. At the training day make all the responsibilities clear: prepping the stand, taking orders, cashiering, making food, and clean-up. You can even let your team sample the foods, so they are familiar with what they are selling. This training day will help eliminate future errors and give your team the chance to ask any questions they may have.
Your team is the heart of the concession stand. Therefore, it is important that they be ready and eager for the challenge.
For more success tips check out this guide. Or if you need help with fundraiser planning download this planning calendar.