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Filling Your Stand with The Most Profitable Items

Everybody is looking for the article titled "The Top Ten....." No matter what your interests are, from the top ten cars to buy this year to the top ten restaurants to try near me, we want to get to the bottom of any topic accurately and backed by experts. These lists are supported by multiple factors about the given topic, some based on opinion and some based on facts.

However, concession stands are a tricky business; there is no easy "Top Ten" list to refer to online. You have a finite number of opportunities to maximize the money you can raise for the program you support. Part of this challenge is trying to figure out what to sell at your stand. In most cases, you have a small amount of sales space and a small window to sell products, but you can have sales upwards of $10,000 in one night. Some of the bigger programs can do $35k on their biggest nights. That leads to some distinct challenges. First of all, you have to have all of your products on hand and available for that short window of time. There is no option to tell them to come back later or come back tomorrow. It is now or never. It is hard to store products or do a "food run" for more products during an event. Menu planning is not everyone's forte, and consumer demand has changed significantly over the years. Even at concession stands, people expect a wide variety of offerings, from gluten-free and vegetarian options to healthier options than hot dogs and nachos. How do you handle these expectations with limited space and limited cooking options?

Let's start in the cooler.

Cooler space is a valuable commodity. Drinks are always a big seller regardless of the event. You can't possibly stock every drink that everyone wants. Also, it is important that you provide your customers with cold drinks if people expect them to be cold. This requires that you become very selective about what you put in that precious cold space. Otherwise, you will be spending all of your time trying to keep the cooler stocked or crowding your concession stand with a bunch of ice-down coolers on rollers to meet the need. While ice-down coolers may still be necessary, focus on narrowing down what you sell. Having an inventory report for each event will help you start culling through your selections, keep the items that sell, and eliminate the extra. Remember, you are not a grocery store, so you can provide the basics, and people will make a choice.

I don't have a magic ball to tell you what drinks sell in every part of the country. In Texas, you would be hard-pressed to have a stand that did not sell Dr. Pepper. But in the Austin niche, everyone requests Topo Chico. Atlanta will forever be a Coca-Cola town, but Cheerwine is all the rage if you live in North Carolina. Whatever your demographics, you need to have a good selection between water, regular and diet soda (pop, cola, or whatever your colloquialism refers to carbonated drinks), energy drinks, and flavored drinks. The key here is to narrow it down to the top 5 in each category for your area. Again, use a platform that provides you with inventory reports to narrow down your selection. This, of course, is where you need the assistance of Blitz Concessions. So many organizations don't want to take the time to differentiate between the products they sell. They will say if they sell all the drinks for $3, then who cares what they are specifically? We strongly discourage this approach; neglecting the information that you get from making sure that you log exactly what you sell is not allowing you to make good purchasing decisions for your stands.

What about the shelf space?

The benefit of the rest of your stand is that it doesn't require much maintenance, like cooling. You need deep shelves that help you display your items prominently and are easy for your customers to see and volunteers to grab. Frito-Lay has been a leader in the chip category for years. You can get a variety of chips in one box at a great price. Again, different parts of the country have nuances of favorites, but Frito-Lay has offerings that cover nacho chips, corn chips, and flavored potato chips. But remember that Frito-Lay is putting the chips in the mix boxes they want to promote. After using your inventory reports, you may find that you don't sell nearly as many regular Lay's chips as they pack in the box. Remember, the box can be a great bargain, but you will likely lose money if you don't sell half of each box. Make sure you pay close attention to what sells and what doesn't, and try to find purchasing options that match your sales. If your operations are big enough, you might reach out to Frito-Lay and ask for a delivery so that you can stock exactly what you sell.

Candy is another big seller at the concession stand. The articles on top consumed candies are easy to find and probably pretty accurate across the board. It is good to hone in on about 15 total candy choices. Here again, using the inventory report will help you concentrate your efforts on the big sellers. Experimenting with different candies is a good idea, but some tried and true items should always be at your event. Some events have a persona related to the food at the event. The easiest one to point to is baseball. It can be argued that a baseball game is not a baseball game without Big League Chew, sunflower seeds, and hot dogs.

Chocolates can be a consideration based on how much space you have in the refrigerator to store them between events. Most customers make impulse purchases, so having them in a basket on the counter or somewhere prominent will help sell them. Online menus are a great way to promote these items. Blitz Concessions offers online menus that allow your customers to see all of your selections clearly, thus promoting all of the items in your stand.

Healthy snack conversations are always interesting. People want healthy alternatives to chips and candies, but don't go overboard in that category. They may say they want better options, but their purchases often don't match their wishes. Mixed nuts or dried fruit options will be at a higher price point and typically don't sell that well. Some fruits can hold for a while depending on how far apart your events are spaced. Maybe a few apples and oranges could be in a basket on the counter, but purchase in small amounts and try a couple of different things for each event until you find a good selection for this category.

Now, on to the main course.

We have discussed the snack items that are a staple of the concession stand world. Now, on to the "meat" of the conversation. As I have mentioned in other blogs, you have a captured audience at your event. However, they can choose to eat before, during, or after your event. So, having a wide variety of offerings and letting people know what you will be serving will boost your sales.

This is a tough balance to strike, right? Do you order pizzas? How many? What toppings? What if you order 25 pizzas and only sell 10? This has closed the door on many concession stands creating a robust menu for fear of losing money and then actually losing money in the process. Concession stands stick with hot dogs, hamburgers, and nachos because they have a long shelf life in the freezer, are easy to make, and create minimal waste because they can be cooked in small batches. What if you could publish your menu so fans can see it in advance? What if you could partner with the local pizza place ,BBQ joint, or favorite sandwich place (maybe even all of the above) and sell their items for your event ahead of time? These features are exclusive to Blitz Concessions. Your menus can be published days before your event, and you can sell items from outside vendors and create a zero inventory and zero loss menu for your main offerings. These items can be a very profitable addition to your stand. In the pizza example, you can now offer gluten-free and vegetarian options because there is no loss if no one purchases them. Now, you are known as the stand that has a great menu. The best benefit is that you don't have to get volunteers to make those items. You should still have hot dogs on the roller grill and nachos and Frito pies on hand, but now you can do so much more. You don't have to risk having to refunding customers for rain-outs or canceled events. Orders are not charged until the stand processes the charge and the order is ready for pickup.

Your goal in the concession stand is to end the event with one of every item on the shelf. This would mean you did not run out of anything, but you sold what you purchased. This is obviously the dream for any group, but it is not attainable. However, you can come closer to those goals with a program like Blitz Concessions. Blitz Concessions provides valuable tools that are in place to help you know what sells so you can purge the excess and promote your menus to encourage fans to order from your stand instead of eating elsewhere by having a menu with a large variety of offerings with the pre-sell options.

Now is the time to contact us at Blitz Concessions to discuss how we can help you reach your concession goals. Click here to set up a meeting today!

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