Better monitoring of pool concession stand eyed for 2019

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Faced with a report showing a deficit of more than $65,000 between revenues and expenses at the Greencastle Aquatic Center this past season, city officials are looking at places to close that gap, and one could easily be the concession stand.

And that is one of the first places that will be scrutinized when the Greencastle Board of Park Commissioners conducts its first meeting of the year Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

“The mayor has asked us to look at the concession stand this year,” Park Director Rod Weinschenk said at the November meeting, noting that bringing expenses and revenues in line there would be a start on closing the overall aquatic center gap of $65,344 that occurred this summer.

In a draft copy about improvements to the aquatic center and specifically the concession stand, it was noted that the goal, of course, should be to at least break even on concessions.

The report notes that the cost of goods plus the share of utilities and the cost and overhead of personnel should be less than or equal to revenue.

Suggested actions toward that goal are to:

-- Line up a better management team with food service/concessions experience.

-- Look at other options for concessions offerings, such as leasing the stand to another operator, discussing options with Putnam County Comprehensive Services, considering vending machines operated by the city or operated by another entity under a leasing agreement.

-- Costing out each menu offering, both product and labor, managing portion sizes, limiting menu offerings and inventory and identify the best suppliers, including local Kroger and Walmart, while considering a partnership with local restaurants for pizza day or sub day, etc.

-- Monitor and adjust offerings and operations during the pool season.

-- Revisiting softball concessions to see if sales cover product and personnel costs, while considering allowing leagues to operate their own concessions.

In the meantime, Weinschenk said the Park Department will be getting some help in the process from a DePauw University Bonner Scholar, Matthew Hilton, who has a business background.

“He has offered to take on looking at the concession stands,” Weinschenk said, “trying to do up a working plan for those, as to what kind of products should be sold, seeing what we have tied up in each product, what kind of mark-up is needed and more.

“We found out in our discussions that he had actually worked in a concession stand in his high school. So this is something I’m hoping he could help us with.”

In addition to the concession stand losses there were several issues at play affecting city pool attendance and operations in recent years.

First off is shrinkage of the swim season, which once routinely ran Memorial Day through Labor Day but now goes only Memorial Day through the first week of August since the major changes have occurred to the school calendar. Staying open later has become problematic because the lifeguards are high school students, mostly athletically involved high schoolers whose sports seasons will have started and will keep them working once school begins. Getting anyone else to guard in recent years has proven virtually impossible.

Another issue emerged as an “unintended consequence” that came about with the addition of the admission-free Bob York Splashpark. With that facility in full operation this year, the pool saw a decline in attendance of 4,000 paid visitors. Of course, that entire total cannot be attributed to the splashpark but it certainly appears to be more than a coincidence as parents with young children often opt for the splashpark.

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  • Softball concessions? I thought, other than the church league, softball was a thing of the past at Roban park. Such a shame as players have had to go out of town if they want to play.

    -- Posted by rdbums on Mon, Dec 31, 2018, at 5:28 AM
  • The Splashpark is nice attraction however they should have a attendant on duty. Last summer we took our granddaughter to the Splashpark and it was overloaded with Tweens running from station. One of the Tweens was running while looking back over her shoulder and plowed down a toddler. Thankfully the little boy wasn't seriously hurt but there was that potential. No guards were even close to the Splashpark yet there was at least 5 guards sitting in the shower building. No supervision is a accident waiting to happen.

    -- Posted by happening today on Wed, Jan 2, 2019, at 8:33 AM
  • How does this Park Director keep his job year after year? Isn't this his responsibility?

    Is there no accountability? Apparently not. It's a small town. He's a nice guy. Everyone's too polite, and in this case, "everyone" is the City Council who should be responsible for hiring and firing.

    It's a well paid position. Can't GC demand more from their elected officials?

    -- Posted by letspulltogether on Wed, Jan 2, 2019, at 8:34 AM
  • How is it possible that nobody, especially the pool manager and park director, have no idea what costs are involved in operating a concession stand? You buy a box of snickers with 20 bars that costs 20 dollars. How much is each bar? Sell them for a buck 50 each and how much money do you make per bar. Not rocket science. Now we are going to let a Bonner Scholar do a cost analysis because they worked in a concession stand in high school? We’ll get an 18 page dissertation concluding that we need to pay less for the candy we sell, charge more when we sell it, and eliminate candy we don’t sell. The park director needs fired for being an idiot and the city council should replace the entire park board for not holding this guy’s feet to the fire.

    -- Posted by Vernie1 on Wed, Jan 2, 2019, at 10:22 AM
  • Vernie1

    It is a little more complicated than you are giving credit for since they need to figure on attendant wages and utilities or else they would still loose money. That being said Rod should really be able to figure this out on his own but there is no issue with using a Depauw resource if they’re willing to volunteer to help

    3Paul,

    The splash pad if FREE so unless you want the pool to loose even more money then putting an attendant there just isn’t realistic. I suspect that the splash pad has made the situation at the pool worse and that should have been considered before they put it in but that ship has sailed.

    Solution to this is relatively easy

    1) increase admission costs slightly

    2) either figure out how much to charge on concessions or close it down and replace with vending machines

    3) extend the swim season to at least Labor Day. Don’t give me this crap about not being able to find guards. I worked there in the early 2000s and we had the same challenges and somehow managed to stay open

    4) fire rod. He has no ability or desire to figure out how to budget or run a city department. It also makes me wonder how many other departments are this catastrophically run in the city.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Wed, Jan 2, 2019, at 9:31 PM
  • I agree 110% with these comments, how can the Park Director be so oblivious to this? His job is to run the parks dept which includes the pool/concessions. All he seems to want to do is sit back and collect all the money he can get while running the Parks Dept in the ground. It's not rocket science to monitor expenses/income so that the "business" makes a profit.

    -- Posted by myjaylantt on Thu, Jan 3, 2019, at 12:26 PM
  • hometownboy- I do understand it would be a extra expense if they hired an attendant but when I walked to the Pool House to speak with the Pool Manager about the rough housing at the Splash Park there were 2 kids at the admission desk and at least 5 guards sitting and talking by the window closest to the pool, and the pool had at least 4 guards around the pool actually working. I am suggesting they station someone to monitor the Splash Park even if it was only spot checks to keep the rough housing in check

    -- Posted by happening today on Thu, Jan 3, 2019, at 1:52 PM
  • 3paul,

    If that is the case then the reason they keep going over budget is that they are drastically over staffed. To run that place you really only need the following (this is what we staffed when i worked there in the 2000's and it worked just fine):

    1 manager / assistant manger

    1 front desk / admissions person

    1 Concessions worker

    5-6 Guards for peak times (can cut back to 3-4 if not busy)

    So based on your numbers they were overstaffed by at least 5 people (assuming it wasn't a shift change and that it was peak time). I'd be interested to know what the average staffing is for the season, but I bet that Rod also has no clue what that is either.

    Spot checks are a good idea, my only point was that i don't think you can have a full time posted guard there unless you start charging for it. Don't think it's too much to ask that the guard on deck duty walk over to the fence and check in 1-2 time per hour for a few minutes.

    Here's a simple calculation:

    (Avg Pool Labor Costs over last 5 years) /

    (Avg Pool Attendance over last 5 years) = Admissions Fee

    Is this anywhere near what they are charging? Also note that this doesn't account for any maintenance, it's only asking them to break even on operation costs. While this is a simplistic view (attendance can vary widely depending on weather) averaging over 5 (or more years) would at least give you a feel for if you're charging anywhere near the appropriate amount. But once again I bet Rod couldn't provide this even if he could be bothered to do his job. It is well past time for him to be fired.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Thu, Jan 3, 2019, at 2:36 PM
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