Making Resolutions: Time to set new goals for the New Year

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many of us have the best intentions at the start of a new year and we spend too little time following through on the initial proposition. 2017 will again present a bundle of opportunities and changes in the cinema foodservice channel. Will the concessionaire be able to predict the future deviations and prepare for the challenges ahead? Those who choose to stand pat rather than move forward will be passed by the ongoing advances made in this sector of revenue. Looking into the “crystal ball” of concessions shows that the way we do business at the conclusion of 2017 will be quite different on multiple levels.

nly if we could predict the future and the outcomes? In a sense we can, by properly planning the functions and executing a well-designed action plan. The very best operators apply the fundamental attributes of management first: a philosophy of planning, then organizing that plan into actions that support the profitable assets that have a clear vision of the objectives. Are they financial or service-oriented? Beginning with the end in mind, each of us can create a critical path to results we desire. Beware: Proper planning techniques do not guarantee success, but faulty planning ensures failure.

1 real weakness among most of us is the art of procrastination—the ability to delay action steps rather than fulfill the daily duties that reach the intended results. We encounter hurdles. We might see these as roadblocks. Things like alcohol license applications, foodservice permits, renovation costs and obstructions can and will impede the foodservice manager in 2017. The demand/ultimatum will be: Do we march through these obstacles or do we defer? Will we delay the reality of transformation?   

7 priorities constitute the focus for the best concession operatives. Managers might choose any of the following resolutions. Dan Borschke, executive VP of the National Association of Concessionaires, brings them to the forefront:

Resolve to be more responsible with alcohol service! This opportunity will overtake the concern of “healthier options.” The growth in this segment is appealing to the demographic groups the cinema industry is disparately attempting to woo. This demographic group can regenerate attendance.

Resolve to use high-quality ingredients! High-quality ingredients will become the calling card of the cinema foodservice experience. This facet supports the “value proposition” that consumers are expecting. Freshly made, gourmet, unique presentations should be the staple of the evolution into the upcoming year.

Resolve to be sustainable! Sustainability is the next initiative. Farm-to-table will be the next qualification to compete with restaurants. This resolution will be easier for independents than for large circuits; however, it will become a priority when offering dine-in services.

Resolve to renovate kitchen and preparation areas. It is clear menus are expanding. Cinemas will no longer be relegated to snacks only. The ability to present food items in a special and unique manner will require better heating equipment, more types of cooking devices, more storage closets and increased amounts of refrigeration and freezer spaces.

Resolve to improve consistency. The actual capability to do such may require using strong brands to assist in reliability and dependability. Using local brands can support the sustainability imprint as well. Retail brands spend thousands of dollars marketing the benefits of their offerings, so why not take advantage of those elements to improve your image and steadiness?

Resolve to use every bit of technology available. The latest apps will allow for patrons to order from the luxury of their homes prior to leaving for the theatre. Survey Me will offer means to get guest opinions and integral knowledge about your business in sync with your daily operations. New popping machines, cotton candy machines and such will be introduced to support concession foodservice’s uniqueness. Software will be aligned to break down every bit of data for evaluating consumer habits and purchases.

Resolve to review “Value Added Propositions.” There is a real concern about out-pricing ourselves. This might be proven by the “Tuesday specials” at half price or lower. Attempting to reward the patron after you gouge them on the weekends seems a bit counterproductive. Stadiums and arenas will be lowering concession prices in an effort to gain customer loyalty and increased purchases. Is it not better to offer the highest-quality products at the lowest price while still making a fair profit? The cinema has a captive audience and has developed a secondary revenue stream through the concession stand; however, it does not mean theatre owners have carte blanche to charge excessive prices just because they can.

2017 will bring another strong lineup of films. These tentpoles will allow for fantastic promotions, creative vessels, toppers, tins and premiums, all of which can lead to more allegiance from the moviegoer. There will be opportunities to bundle these prospects into increased revenues while earning the patron’s loyalty to your brand. Now is the time to set your resolutions in place to build a path to a higher position in the entertainment marketplace.

Larry Etter is senior VP at Malco Theatres and director of education at the National Association of Concessionaires.