5 Things Every Concession Owner Needs to Know
When first getting into the business of owning and running a concession stand, it can seem like a dream come true. It is a great way to own your own business and to become your own boss without all of the overhead and expenses of a traditional brick and mortar space. However, concession owners need to understand the basics of getting into the field to help them plan for a successful launch and future business growth.
Create a Concept
It may seem obvious, but when starting out it's important to determine exactly what it is that you plan on selling in your concession stand. While the exact menu may not need to be drawn out on day 1, it is important to know the general food concept, so you can build upon that idea. What do you want to sell? Whether it's hot dogs, nachos or gourmet waffles and crepes, you'll need to have a general concept in order to begin.
Create a Business Plan
Once you have a concept, you will require a business plan to help you get started. The business plan will take your concept and concretize it, enabling you to chart a course for the future success of your concession stand. Your plan should include a more detailed look at your concept including: detailed menu plans, plans for your stand's location, staffing requirements, marketing/advertising plans, and finally, how you plan on financing your dream. The more detailed your business plan is, the greater chance you will have of receiving funding, and other assistance along the way.
Build Your Menu Slowly
You may think that you should add as many items to your menu as fast as you can to impress the crowds and gain a following. However, this is actually a bad idea. Instead, start slowly with fewer menu options, and concentrate on how to make those items the best they can be. Once you establish your stand and brand, you can then slowly add in other menu items. Keep in mind that many successful stands only have a handful of different items. Therefore, think carefully before adding new menu items.
When Things Get Slow
You might spend a few hours, days or weeks doing quite well, but then, just when you thought you knew what you were doing, sales dry up. What went wrong? If other vendors around you are busy and you are not, then you may need to rethink your location, your menu items, or your prices. However, if, over the course of time, there are simply slower days and busier days and that's just how it is at your location, then you need to plan your slow times accordingly.
You can spend the slow times looking for different ways to market your business, You can advertise with fliers, coupons, social media, and other gimmicks to bring people to your stand at off hours, where they can get better deals; you can catch up on needed repairs, or you can experiment with different menu items. It is also important to gauge the slow and busy times as best as you can so you can learn when you may need to add staff and when you can swing things on your own.
Don't Be Afraid of Change
Perhaps the most important thing for any concession owner to know is that it's okay to change around your original plans if things are not working out as planned. You may need to change your menu ideas to accommodate consumer demand, or you may need to get new permits and move your location. These changes may cost you some money, but they will enable you to continue pursuing your dream, although in a different way. While these are just two of the many things that may not go your way, flexibility, being open to change, and being open-minded, are key ingredients for the success of any business.
On a Final Note
No matter what type of food you are selling, it is unlikely that you will experience overnight success. Don’t expect to be rolling in the cash by the end of the week! It takes time and work to build your brand and to start showing a profit. With perseverance, hard work and some luck, you can make a good living owning a concession stand.