Following these 15 tips to maximize your profits, attract more customers, and run a successful concession stand business.
Concession stands can be a great way to earn extra income, especially if you’re passionate about food and enjoy interacting with people. Whether you’re looking to supplement your income, save up for a vacation, or start a full-time business, there are many opportunities to make money with a concession stand.
However, like any type of new business things can be uncertain especially if you don’t have much experience in the catering industry or for that matter the mobile catering industry. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, from choosing profitable products to sell, and getting your prices right to ordering supplies and the right commercial equipment.
But with a bit of planning and effort, you can create a successful concession stand that customers will love and that will help you achieve your financial goals.
In this article, I’ll be sharing my top 15 tips for making money with a concession stand based on my own experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, there’s something here for everyone.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to maximize your profits, attract more customers, and run a successful concession stand, let’s dive in!
- Your audience
- Your menu
- Keeping it simple
- Keeping your prices competitive
- Maintaining equipment and supplies
- Offer seasonal specials
- Using social media
- Having fun
- Offer healthy options
- Staying organized
- Building relationships with customers
- Providing excellent customer service
- Keeping an eye on the weather
This is the most important tip I can give you. Find a spot that gets plenty of foot traffic, and you’re halfway there. Bonus points if it’s near a main attraction, like a sports stadium or amusement park. But remember, you can’t just set up shop anywhere. Check with local authorities to ensure you have all the permits required.
For example, if you’re selling at a sports stadium, consider setting up near the entrance or the popular team merchandise shop. If you’re selling at a fair or festival, try to get a spot near the main stage or the carnival rides.
2. Your audience
Who are you selling to? Families? Sports fans? Music lovers? Understanding your audience will help you tailor your menu and pricing to their tastes and budget.
Let’s say you’re selling at a music festival. You could offer food that’s easy to eat while standing and dancing, like handheld sandwiches or wraps. Or, if you’re selling at a family-friendly event, consider offering kid-friendly options like chicken tenders or mac and cheese.
3. Your menu
Sure, hot dogs and nachos are always popular, but why not try something a little more unique? How about loaded waffle fries or gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches? Don’t be afraid to experiment, but remember to keep your costs in check.
For example, you could offer loaded tater tots with toppings like bacon and cheese, or pretzel bites with various dipping sauces. Another idea is to offer dessert options like churros with dipping sauce or warm cookies with ice cream.
4. Keeping it simple
While it’s great to have a varied menu, don’t overwhelm your customers with too many choices. A simple menu will help keep your line moving and reduce waste.
Instead of offering a huge variety of items, you could focus on a few core items that are easy to prepare and popular with customers. For example, you could offer hot dogs, nachos, and popcorn. This will make it easier for your customers to make a quick decision and get through your line faster.
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5. Keeping your prices competitive
You don’t want to price yourself out of the market, but you also don’t want to sell yourself short. Do some research and find out what similar vendors are charging, and adjust your prices accordingly.
Check out what other vendors are charging for similar items and aim to be in the same price range. However, don’t be afraid to charge a little more if your items are of higher quality or if you offer more generous portion sizes.
Want to make more money? Encourage your customers to add on extras, like extra toppings with their hotdogs, drinks, or desserts. And don’t forget to suggest combos or value deals.
If someone orders a hot dog, offer them a drink and a bag of chips to go with it. You could also offer combo deals where customers can get a discount for purchasing multiple items.
7. Maintaining equipment and supplies
Nothing turns off customers faster than dirty or broken equipment. Keep your concession stand clean and well-stocked, and your customers will appreciate it.
Make sure your grill and other equipment are cleaned and maintained regularly. Check that you have enough supplies on hand, like napkins, utensils, and condiments.
8. Offer seasonal specials
Mix up your menu with seasonal items, like pumpkin spice lattes in the fall or ice-cold lemonade in the summer. This will keep your menu fresh and exciting.
In the fall, you could offer pumpkin spice lattes or apple cider. In the summer, you could offer fresh fruit cups or ice cream. These seasonal items can help attract customers looking for something unique.
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9. Using social media
Don’t just rely on foot traffic to attract customers. Use social media to spread the word about your concession stand and post mouth-watering photos of your menu items.
Take photos of your menu items and post them on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. You could also offer discounts to customers who follow your social media accounts.
10. Having fun
Running a concession stand can be hard work, but don’t forget to have fun! Engage with your customers, crack some jokes, and enjoy the experience. After all, a happy vendor is a successful vendor!
Smile, engage with your customers, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Making customers feel welcome and appreciated can go a long way in building repeat business.
11. Offer healthy options
While some people may come to your concession stand looking for classic comfort foods, others may be looking for healthier options. By offering a few healthier items on your menu, you can appeal to a wider range of customers.
For example, you could offer grilled chicken wraps with plenty of veggies, fresh fruit cups with yogurt or honey for dipping, or veggie sticks with hummus. Consider using whole-grain bread or wraps, and offer low-fat or low-calorie dressings and spreads.
12. Staying organized
Running a successful concession stand requires careful organization and planning. Keep track of your inventory and make sure you have enough supplies on hand, especially for high-demand items. Use checklists to ensure you don’t forget anything important, like napkins or utensils. Pay attention to which items are selling well and which aren’t, and adjust your menu accordingly. For example, if you notice that your pretzels aren’t selling well, consider adding a different type of snack like popcorn or chips.
13. Building relationships with customers
One of the best ways to build repeat business is to create a loyal customer base. Get to know your regulars and make them feel appreciated. Offer discounts or freebies for repeat customers, or create a loyalty program where customers can earn points or rewards for frequent purchases. Encourage feedback and suggestions, and be willing to make changes to improve your service.
14. Providing excellent customer service
Your staff can make or break the success of your concession stand. Train them to be friendly, helpful, and efficient, and make sure they know the menu inside and out. Encourage them to upsell and suggest additional items, but also make sure they don’t come across as pushy or aggressive. If a customer has a complaint, address it promptly and do your best to make it right. A happy customer is more likely to return and recommend your stand to others.
15. Keeping an eye on the weather
If you’re selling at an outdoor event, be prepared for all types of weather. If it’s hot, make sure you have plenty of cold drinks and frozen treats like ice cream or popsicles. If it’s raining, have extra umbrellas or ponchos on hand so customers can stay dry. If it’s chilly, offer warm beverages like hot cocoa or coffee. You can also adjust your menu based on the weather.
For example, on a hot day, you might offer more refreshing drinks like lemonade or iced tea, while on a cold day, you might focus more on warm, hearty foods like chili or soup. By being prepared for all types of weather, you can ensure that your customers stay comfortable and satisfied.