Whether they’re visiting for a tournament, double-header, or even a long birthday party, families spending hours at your sports complex are going to get hungry.
Why not feed them?
Concessions stands are a great way to boost revenue and keep your clients happy — but only if they’re run professionally and efficiently.
Brad Bischoff worked in restaurant management at a corporate level for almost 10 years before joining the team at Center St. Louis, a sports complex with 8 volleyball courts, a full turf field, and more.
As the Operations Manager, he runs all the concessions and scheduling for big events such as volleyball tournaments, roller derby games, martial arts tournaments, and more.
If you’re considering running concessions in-house at your sports complex, here are a few of his suggestions.
It’s All About Forecasting
Concessions margins are slim to start with. If your food and labor costs start to creep up, profits will disappear quickly.
To keep costs as low as possible, you need an accurate estimate of demand as early as possible. The event planner is typically the only person with access to those numbers.
That means that much of your concessions profits may depend on your ability to keep in touch with the event planner and get an honest idea of demand four or five days before an event.
Cultivate a friendly, trusting relationship with event planners so that they expect and look forward to your calls and know exactly what numbers you’ll need ahead of time.
Use Data from Previous Events
Once you’ve been operating for a few years, you’ll get a feel for the concessions demand for different types of events based on the sport, weather, time of year, and more.
You may even be able to adjust for crowd type and factors like admissions costs (Brad says that bigger upfront costs generally mean less money spent on food, for example).
Using a Point of Sale system that tracks inventory and lets you run reports for various date ranges is a must-have. With it, you can compare upcoming events to similar past ones to get better forecasts and more profits.
Find a Great Local Supplier
Even with lots of experience and plenty of data, you’ll still find yourself off on supply occasionally.
In those cases, Brad can sometimes rely on a secret weapon: his food supplier. He has developed a great relationship with a local, independent supplier who appreciates his business and is willing to go the extra mile to keep it.
For example, the supplier has dropped off more food mid-event so Brad doesn’t have to leave the complex. That can be invaluable in the middle of a surprisingly busy day. He has also taken back and refunded unopened food when event turnout was unexpectedly low.
Concessions stands aren’t a good fit for every sports academy.
If you’re smaller and most of your clients tend to stay for an hour or so, a snack bar with non-perishable snacks might be just fine.
A more boutique personal training company for adults might go for a juice or smoothie bar, either franchised or in-house.
But regardless of what type of concessions you offer, it pays to keep a close eye on inventory, demand, and margins.
Center St. Louis uses eSoft Planner, the scheduling and payment software built for sports complexes and sports academies. If you’d like to see it in action, click here and fill out the form to see a free custom demo.
For more advice on improving profitability at your sports facility, book a consultation with our experts.