With summer just around the corner, carnival season is soon to be upon us. While this traditionally busy season is usually a delight for concessions operators, the rush of business can quickly turn into a hectic nightmare if you are not ready. Preparing for the summer months is absolutely necessary to ensure that your concessions operation runs smoothly, but if addressed in small, manageable chunks, keeping your stand or trailer up to snuff can become a normal, routine task. Here are a few things to keep in mind while during your spring cleaning.
- Check your equipment: Check the condition of your crucial concession equipment (fryers, grills, popcorn machines, and so on) regularly. If any of your equipment is starting to show signs of wear or age, make plans to upgrade or repair before anything breaks or malfunctions. Don’t wait until there is a problem to start fixing it; having a machine break in the middle of a busy day can be devastating to your short-term business.
- Establish a cleaning routine: Despite typically being outdoors, cleanliness is just as important in concession stands as it is in full-scale restaurants. Make sure that everything is cleaned regularly by developing a schedule and following it closely. Not everything will need to be cleaned with the same frequency, so take some time to determine how often each part of your trailer will need attention and break your schedule down into groups of tasks to help simplify your daily cleaning.
- Stay Stocked: Keeping track of your stock is crucial during busy concessions seasons. If you have sold to carnivals or state fairs before, use your numbers from the previous season to estimate how much stock to keep on hand. Many concessions food ingredients are shelf-stable, and can be stocked relatively far in advance. If your concession stand sells products with fresh ingredients that can’t be stocked ahead of time, there are still plenty of disposables, flavor mixes, and paper goods to keep on hand. Make sure that you have plenty of cups, plates, flavoring concentrates, condiment packets, and other necessary items before heading in for the season.
- Market carefully: Before setting up shop, make sure that every product you offer is poised to bring in a profit. Consider your demographic carefully, and attune your menu to minimize potential waste. Variety is great, but any items that don’t sell detract from your overall sales. Specializing in one or two items can sometimes be the best way to bring in profits during competitive busy seasons, rather than offering the widest variety of complex or unique items.
- Stay seasonal: Keep the weather in mind when choosing which items to sell from your stand. Carnival attendees will almost certainly come looking for a cold, refreshing snack or drink during the warmer summer months, so be sure to have something available to help keep them hydrated. Outfitting your truck or stand with a drink fountain, frozen beverage dispenser, ice cream cooler, or snow cone machine is a great way to help your customers beat the heat.
Running a concession stand is a busy but profitable business, especially during the busy summer season when carnivals, state fairs, and other outdoor events become more frequent. While the demanding pace of concession operations may be intimidating to those unfamiliar with the business, a bit of careful planning, organization, and predictive sales planning can go a long way toward staying ahead of your costs. Keep the above tips in mind to help ensure that your concession stand, truck, or trailer brings in continual profits all summer long.