Interview with Jeff Harrington, Vice President at Owasso High School Band Patrons
“Wow did it cut down the lines!” Jeff said. “It gives us a little breathing room, as you know how concession stands can be so busy.”
If you’ve ever been at a High School sports game before, you know that concession lines can build up in no time.
That was the problem Jeff Harrington had been trying to deal with as the person in charge of concession operations at Owasso High School. In fact, the concession lines were so long last year that Jeff thought there had to some technology out there that could act as a solution, even without knowing of any such existing apps. He thought there had to be a way for people to order concessions more easily.
“I contacted the IT guy and asked if he could make me an app to get people to order…he called me back and said they couldn’t do that because of school policy,” Jeff recalled. “But he also said that he came across a company called FanFood and that I should contact them.”
Apparently the conversation with the FanFood team went well, since Jeff soon brought it up to the school board and everyone got excited about the prospect of introducing this mobile app on campus. Just like that, FanFood was implemented at Owasso this year and was used for five games and four playoffs. The downloadable app allows fans to place orders from their seats, while the concessionnaires receive the orders from the tablets that FanFood provides. Once the orders are ready, the app sends the fans a message that their food is ready for pick-up, and then they come to express pick-up windows to grab their food.
With a convenient mobile ordering solution, fans tend to spend more using FanFood and order more than once throughout a game. Data has shown that FanFood has become a preferred method of ordering concessions because fans know they don’t have to wait as long for their food.
“FanFood has increased our concessions revenue by 20% per game, which for a high school is pretty amazing,” Jeff said.
Not only are Jeff and his team able to make more revenue, they are also more informed on the stats of their sales. At the end of the night, FanFood tallies all the numbers for the concession staff, including the number of transactions, the number of each item sold, the busiest times during the game, etc. Whether it’s for a concessionnaire or a volunteer, it’s a quick and easy overview of how well they’ve done during the game and a helpful tool for strategizing for the future.
“For me this is the one of the best parts of FanFood,” Jeff said. “We know exactly how many and when, and scheduling is so much easier when you know when your busiest times usually are.”
Now that Jeff’s team is more familiar with FanFood, they will soon start experimenting with in-seat delivery this upcoming year. In-seat delivery allows fans to receive their order even faster by having runners bring their food to their seats. This allows fans to achieve ordering, paying, and receiving their food all while staying in their seats, so that they don’t have to waste time walking to the concession stands or worry about missing the action on the field. FanFood’s runner app allows runners to quickly locate where the orders come from and deliver the food to the fans.
It’s understandable if you feel turned off at the phrase “tech solution” or “ordering through an app,” either because tech can sound complicated and intimidating, or has the reputation of being glitchy and unreliable. But that’s not the experience at Owasso at all.
“There have been no issues to get everyone to use the system and it’s been really easy,” Jeff said.
Every FanFood tablet comes with pre-paid data plan, so that they are fully functional even if the venue doesn’t come with WiFi. Owasso however is still trying to install WiFi inside its stadium so everyone can have even greater convenience — talk about placing emphasis on fan experience!
Not only is the FanFood system designed to be extremely user-friendly, but the FanFood sales team also makes sure every partner is fully prepared and confident to use the tablet before their first game. The team is also very responsive to any additional support required at any time post-sale.
“The FanFood team is very resourceful, spontaneous and responsive,” Jeff said, “We love FanFood and everybody is just so easy to work with.”
Now whenever Jeff goes to a game hosted by another high school, he notices their long concession lines and approaches their concession person-in-charge. He has commented on the long wait times, and almost every concessionnaire has agreed that eliminating their lines should become a bigger priority. However, almost all of them aren’t exactly sure how to achieve that. In these moments, Jeff has happily become an advocate of FanFood and had introduced the app to them, since he believes that this is the direction in which not only the sports industry, but also the high school space as a whole, is going — providing a better gameday experience powered by innovation and technology.
Interestingly enough, encouraging fans to download FanFood requires more traditional and old-fashioned ways of marketing — banners, flyers and seat stickers.
“The [snack packaging] bags with the FanFood logo on them are a great form of advertisement,” Jeff observed. “People would see the bags and get curious, and then everyone started downloading [the FanFood app].”
After the new school board approved the installment of a large screen beside the field, Jeff also started displaying announcements on the screen encouraging fans to download FanFood. And he has found that to be an effective strategy, too — people would notice the announcement and ask Jeff whether they could skip the line with FanFood. Once he gave them the thumbs-up, they would download the app, place their order and skip the line to pick up it up, all in a seamless manner.
“We already have plans to use [FanFood] for the next year,” Jeff said.
Maybe Owasso’s concession revenue will soon increase beyond the 20% it already has as they start implementing in-seat delivery — who knows? But one thing is for sure: fans at Owasso High School are enjoying a much better game day experience, and the high school has become the talk of the town as an innovator in the high school concession space.