For a very long time (and still today), cash transactions have been a major contributor to that hustle and bustle. In a world where only 30% of all transactions are still done through cash, the school concession scene seems unyieldingly stubborn in keeping pretty much 100% of its transactions cash-only. It’s easy to understand why: cash payments don’t require additional infrastructure or technological investment; students tend to bring cash made from their part-time gigs; you don’t need additional training for your volunteers to take cash.
But at the same time, it’s not enough to simply stay content with the status quo, especially if that status quo is soon going to be irrelevant. Professional sports stadiums are already picking up on this trend and adopting the new on-demand, cash-free payment ideology.
This year, Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays, became the first sports venue in North America to be completely cash-free starting this year, and that will apply to both ticket and concession sales. This was followed by Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is also moving away from cash transactions for all events, including Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United games. Square, the point-of-sale platform, also just announced its partnership with Levy Restaurants and the Washington Nationals to make it faster and easier for fans to order food from their seats.
And what does this all mean for high school and college athletics? While we don’t recommend your school going completely cashless just yet (because we know that there will always be kids showing up with a ten-dollar bill given by their dads), here are 5 reasons why schools need to start accepting multiple forms of payments and reducing their dependency on cash:
1. Cash transactions are painfully slow, and can be pretty stressful
Looking for change for a $10 note when you are selling a $3.99 hotdog is a hassle that any concessionaire would love to avoid. What’s more, when the order gets bigger, the math just gets more complicated and your trouble compounds. And how long would that single transaction take? If you are really proficient, probably 5 seconds. But what if there are already 20 restless fans waiting in line, wanting to get back to their seat to watch their child, sibling, or friend on the field? It will easily slow you down, get you flustered, and certainly stressed.
And compare that to a transaction done via mobile ordering? One click. That’s it. Less than one second. The best part? It doesn’t even involve the volunteers or concessionaires. All they have to focus on is food preparation.
Data have shown that concession ordering apps like FanFood can reduce the wait time from 20 minutes to just a few. And we all know what that means — happier fans, and stress-free staff running the concession stands.
2. When you only accept cash, you are leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table
Guess what? Only 50% of Americans say they carry cash with them less than half of the time they are out. Cash-only payment naturally excludes those who live out of a phone and a credit card (which we can agree, is many of us).
In addition, faster mobile transactions mean that concession stands can take not only more, but larger orders, which translates to a higher sales volume and of course, higher revenue. In fact, we have found that fans using FanFood tend to place multiple orders within one game just because it’s so convenient. Nationally, fans on average are willing to spend $20 more on food and beverages if the wait time were cut in half. Just think about that — how much more money are you leaving on the table?
An Oracle survey shows that as a result of 45% of sports fans abandoning concession lines due to the long wait, concessionaires are losing a 42% increase in revenue from those missed orders. Therefore, investing in a mobile ordering system definitely pays back fast in the long term.
3. Cash isn’t the most secure form of payment
Do you know that 1/10 of what booster clubs raise goes missing? That’s partly due to the inherent risk of cash collection — you never know when or how it may be lifted by a random passer-by, especially when you are swamped in the frenzy of running the concession stand.
Thousands of dollars were reported missing last year at booster groups in the U.S. that raise an average $23,000 each, according to the National Booster Club Association. Not all theft cases went unnoticed though. A former treasurer at Revere All Sports Booster Club was once convicted of stealing nearly $140,000. But for most booster clubs in the country, the lost money can never be traced.
However, with mobile ordering, all transactions are tracked and guaranteed secure. That’s one less risk and one less worry for your concession staff.
4. Cash complicates the accounting process…and your life
Mobile concession ordering apps further eliminate manual labor by taking over the accounting process, which can be a real pain in cash transactions. Very few people enjoy counting notes and coins and making sure everything is tallied down to the cent. With mobile transactions however, all you need to look at is the final number that’s already computed for you. Not only does that make the concession staff’s life much easier, but it also simplifies the process of filing for paperwork when reporting concession revenue to the school.
5. Fast and easy payment enhances the overall fan experience
64% of fans say they would “probably use” or “definitely use” mobile concession ordering if it’s available. That’s because as fans, they know that the overall fan experience is what they come for, and convenience is one quality they truly value.
Mobile ordering goes beyond simply making concession ordering easier. It means parents can spend more time in their seats watching their son’s first ever touchdown; it means fans can spend quality time cheering their team on rather than waiting in line; it means ordering concessions is no longer something they have to strategically plan well ahead of time so as to not miss the big play.
And finally we have to acknowledge this: mobile ordering is the inevitable future. As the world around us becomes less and less reliant on cash, we need to adapt to the trend as well. So instead of being caught unprepared when the shift is fast approaching, a better strategy would be to lead the change and embrace what’s bound to come.