Better monitoring of pool concession stand eyed for 2019
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.