In more than a decade in business, we’ve helped schools of all sizes re-imagine, re-brand, and revamp their dining program to make it a viable revenue generator for their K-12 school.
It doesn’t take a total renovation or kitchen overhaul to improve daily dining service sales. Simple changes—using resources you probably already have in your toolbox—can make a big difference. Here are a few of our favorite ways to bump up your dining revenue in a snap.
Creating a branded menu is one of the most impactful things you can do to both boost sales and student satisfaction. A simple branded menu feels more like a restaurant experience than a school cafeteria; a collection of branded menus feels like a food court with lots of delicious options.
Branding a menu can be as simple or as complicated as you want; just make sure each “collection” of options has a catchy name, a distinctive look, and a theme to tie it together. One of the most popular branded menus at Pedestal Foods schools is The Grill Spot, featuring sandwiches, burgers and veggie burgers—even offering fish tacos during Lent. The Grill Spot satisfies students’ fast-casual dining cravings with healthy, fresh options that feel exciting and appealing, like a mini-restaurant on campus.
Try sending weekly menus home in advance, so parents and students can get a preview of the options available for the week. We find that many times, parents don’t understand the variety or value of the options available to their students. Including them in the dining hall experience can further encourage students to choose school lunch and make the most of the options available. ( Bonus: showing parents what’s available boosts family satisfaction, too!)
Surveying students and parents regularly boosts engagement, especially when people see their suggestions acknowledged and brought to life. Satisfaction surveys have long been a cornerstone of how we do business at Pedestal Foods.
We’re big fans of regular parent emails and on-site surveys for students; we’ve even used snapchat and other popular social media to engage students in their familiar digital spaces. Surveys are a great way to tap into your audience’s expectations and preferences, and find new ways to surprise and delight them in ways that make a difference.
Self Serve Stations
Creating easy-to-access self-serve stations saves time and gives students a feeling of independence. Given the option to choose their own dish and serve their own portion can be an attractive option that boosts engagement, especially for middle grades.
Inject some excitement into your dining experience with themed days or weeks! Whether you follow the holiday calendar to plan Christmas, Easter, and St. Pat’s Day feasts or make up your own occasions, like Cowboy Day, Cold Treat Day, or Fiesta Fridays, a theme day is a great way to generate some excitement and participation.
Again, this can be as simple or as complicated as you want, from hanging easy decorations to going all out with a themed menu, activities, and even entertainment. Finals week, spirit week, or welcome back time are great times to plan a theme week in the dining hall!
Even small shifts can mean big boosts in engagement and sales in on-campus dining. We’re constantly thinking of ways to help our clients make the most of their dining programs. If you have a creative idea you’ve tried, or would like to try, let us know!
Interested in freshening up your school’s dining program? Get in touch with Pedestal Foods here.