September 3, 2022
Successful concession stand management starts with organizing your workspace, inside and out. Where and how you choose to store food, prepare orders, and even take new orders all impact your stand’s speed and efficiency. To be prepared for the busiest event days, it’s never a bad time to evaluate your concession areas for optimal performance.
Of course, you may not be able to re-arrange everything within your concession stand, like permanent fixtures or large coolers. However, with what is in your control, you can take steps to improve your stand’s event day order output, tenfold.
In this blog, we’ll run through seven major considerations that can help your concession stand layout maximize efficiency and get orders prepared, quicker.
Evaluating your concession stand' current floor plan is an essential first step to identify improvements. Anyone who’s worked a concession stand knows just how much movement between stations happens during service hours – any impediments or obstacles should be dealt with promptly before your next event day. Consider:
If you recognize even a few of these instances when walking through your stand, optimizing the space within your concession stand will make a huge difference for your team.
Especially if it’s your first go at running a concession stand, the last thing you want is your inventory and ingredient containers (buns, toppings, napkins or seasonings) cluttering valuable space that could be used for order prep.
During a walk-through of your concession stand, identify the various storage areas which can help you keep the necessary kitchen items and inventory within an arm’s reach – without interfering with other event day prep activities. Items that can be stored outside of the “busy” zone during service hours, like large cleaning supplies for pre and post-service sanitation, can be placed elsewhere.
Whether it’s prepared foods that must be refrigerated (burgers, hot dogs) or packaged foods (chips, drinks, candy), safeguarding your inventory from spoiling or waste is top priority. Good food inventory management and reducing food waste begins with educating your staff or volunteers on the benefits of this, and how it impacts your organization’s revenue generated from the concession stand.
Consider how your space can prevent your first-in inventory from slipping through its usage period – that is, well before its listed expiration date. A well-managed and organized concession stand and food storage areas will save your organization thousands of dollars, annually.
When optimizing your layout, consider how your food inventory can help you draw customers in; what might they want to order? For example, if a customer can see your grill, pretzel warmer, or soda dispenser machine from the outside, it helps them arrive at their purchasing decision more easily. Consumers are visually-driven, and where you decide to place certain stations or equipment can influence their purchasing behavior.
Between items like drinks, chips, candy, and hot food, prioritize their range from the order-taker by these products’ past demand. If your stand has a point-of-sale system, your location’s customer purchase data may hold the key to serving your customers faster. For example, if you know bagged chips or ice cream are wildly popular items, but located in the back of your stand, it might be time to move them closer to your concession stand’s front counter.
Concession stand managers are just as responsible for the space outside of the stand, as they are for the inside. By this, we’re referring to 1) where lines develop, and 2) where customers can get condiments and napkins. Long lines are a major deterrent from ordering concessions. Optimizing how you take in orders is a great measure to prevent crowding or congestion, particularly at service times where demand is at its highest.
Whether your stand’s order-takers are staff or volunteers, training around where orders can be taken versus delivered (eg, which window(s) are designated for which function) is essential to a steady event day operation. On any given event day, there’s always the chance the crowds will be larger or smaller than anticipated; if this becomes the case, and you need to allocate more staff to order-taking (or, vice versa), make sure that your concession stand workers have the proper knowledge of your concession stand’s layout.
On event day, your stand should be accepting more than just cash payments. After all, with less physical cash in the vicinity of your concession stand, the less the risk of theft or money mismanagement. Also, digital payments mean less need for a hefty cash box!
Digital payment methods like cards and mobile ordering not only speed up your concession stand’s transaction times, but are actually how an increasing number of consumers prefer to pay. As contactless payments have skyrocketed in popularity, so has consumers’ expectations of them; 77% of consumers will prefer contactless payments in their day-to-day transactions, even after the pandemic ends.
A planned and well-organized approach to your concession stand layout can save you and your staff the stress of major headaches on event day. Considering these tips when planning your own concession stand can help streamline the process, and make it easier to identify potential problems before they arise.