As a follow-up to our first three-question interview with John Lawn of Hersheypark and the IAAPA Food and Beverage Committee, FUNWORLD caught up with another member of the F&B committee, Ken Whiting, who runs Whiting's Foods through the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. He is also founder of WAVES for Success, which provides expert advice on how to recruit, train, and manage a teenage work force.
Whiting shares his perspective on how to work through a difficult economy while still aiming to serve customers in the best way possible. We hope this interview will help guide your strategy as you plan your meetings and show floor visits at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008.
FUNWORLD: How have the price increases of food and raw materials affected your business as a whole?
Ken Whiting: Combined with an overall softening in spending, increased cost of goods will definitely have a negative impact on year-end profit.
FW: What types of strategies are you implementing to combat the effects?
KW: These types of occurrences make us better operators. When certain areas are negatively impacted (i.e. cost of goods, sales volume), we put an increased priority on other areas like training, speed of service, scheduling, open/close times, signage, menu item preparation, presentation, and quality ... and the effectiveness of our supervisors. These all have opportunities to improve overall efficiency, sales, and profit.
In addition, we already have many value-added offers available. Coupons with strong discounts are available to season passholders and at our parking lots. We are seeing a large increase on redemption of these, driving sales that otherwise may not occur.
FW: What are some tips you can share on working with vendors during these more difficult times?
KW: The first thing is to simply make sure you are having a conversation with your vendors regarding pricing and product opportunities. They may have have suggestions on different ingredients or recipes to use that decrease cost or increase yield. Vendors work with many type of food establishments and suppliers, so their combined experience can generate many new ideas to consider. As one example, where it has been advantageous, we have bought certain items in larger volumes at lower prices, or to lock in a price.