The Do’s and Don’ts of a Youth Sports Concession Stand
Winning Strategies for Youth Sports Concession Stand Success
If you’re in charge of a youth sports concession stand, you have a lot to consider. “How do I find the right equipment? What foods will sell? Is it really worth all this effort?”
First, take a deep breath. Your concession stand will be most successful when you invest your time and energies in efficient and effective ways. What you do is as important as what not to do. Here’s what our experts recommend:
DON’T try to do it all alone.
Most youth sports operate with an all-volunteer staff. Tap into this as a resource. Designate 2-3 leaders. Try to capitalize on strengths and experience. For example, those who’ve worked in sales or hospitality have the skills to work as a cashier or in food prep at the concession stand. Also, remember that your supplier should be an asset to you! Let them help with training, equipment service, and product recommendations.
DO the math.
Concession food costs can be as low as a quarter per serving, allowing great flexibility in pricing. For example, even when sold at a price of $1.50, popcorn can still yield up to 86% profit or $1.30 per bag. (Read more about popcorn pricing here.) You can use this to encourage your volunteers. They can earn more in one afternoon at the concession stand than a month’s worth of other fundraising efforts. Remind parents that volunteering helps to keep the players’ costs down.
DON’T be too complex.
The best advice for menu planning is to keep it as simple as possible. Use popcorn kits, conveniently made with the proper amounts of corn, oil, and salt premeasured. Cotton candy can be pre-packaged in advance to help keep lines moving during busy times. (Is Your Menu Ready? Get more tips here.) Use your time wisely. Prepackaged foods can also be a great time-saver, plus it provides your customers with a more sanitary option.
DO stick with known profit-makers.
It’s important to stick with proven best-sellers, like popcorn, hot dogs, and nachos. You can rely on these types of foods to be your foundation items. First, they are easy to make with user-friendly equipment. Second, you can upsell by creating special combos with drinks. You can also consider add-ons like hot dogs with chili for even more sales.
DON’T forget to promote your stand.
There are a number of low-cost ways to steer traffic to your concession stand. Offer samples. Get the announcer involved. Hand out flyers with specials in the parking lot as teams and families arrive. Give out helium balloons to kids on opening day. Be creative! And don't forget to use social media too.
DO offer seasonal items.
Get the attention of your fans with specials that are different than the usual fare. Limited-time menu items create a sense of excitement and urgency. Consider lemon shake-ups for the summer, pumpkin spice coffee in fall, or peppermint hot chocolate in winter.
DON’T be all work and no fun!
If you’re having fun, your staff and your customers will enjoy themselves too. Remember, you’re not just providing something to eat, concession foods are a full sensory experience. When you can, incorporate the food production into your selling process. Smelling and hearing popcorn freshly popping or watching someone operate a cotton candy machine helps to attract attention and sales. Also, be sure to show your appreciation to your volunteers. Some suggestions are: thank you cards; entering everyone’s name into a drawing for prizes like a gift card; or having t-shirts made to encourage teamwork.
More Youth Sports Fundraising Concessions Resources
Gold Medal is here with eBooks to help you get the most out of your concession stand fundraising:
- Game On! Managing a Youth Sports Concession Stand
- Your Guide to School Fundraising & Sports Concessions
- Fun Foods & Fundraising: A Winning Combination for Your Organization
Need help with your concession stand’s game plan? Gold Medal has helped youth sports leagues of all sizes find solutions that work for their needs and budget. Get started today by calling 800-543-0862 or emailing [email protected].