Non-peak dining to save students money

by Kelsey Heiter, news reporter Thursday, September 17, 2009; 11:15 PM

An SGA pilot program offering a dining incentive will give students a 10 percent discount at dining halls between the hours of 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., beginning next week. The pilot program, put together by SGA Vice President Shane McCarty, will run Sept. 21-Sept. 25. Students will only get the discount if they present a coupon, a measure taken to judge interest in the incentive. If the program is implemented as an everyday measure, no coupon will be required. “We spent Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 14 and 15, on the Drillfield passing out 10 percent off coupons for students to be used Monday, Sept. 21 until Friday, Sept. 25,” McCarty said. “Dining and SGA saw an opportunity to reduce congestion during the peak hours of 11:30 a.m. to about 2 p.m. and we want to give incentives to students for changing their eating schedules.”

McCarty hopes students are going to try the program. “We really hope that students do (take advantage) because there have been lots of complaints and concerns about having to wait in line so long,” McCarty said. “We hope that this is kind of a plan that really makes the change that the students are looking for.” Brandon Carroll, SGA president, said that he hopes the program will relieve stress that the dining employees experience during peak hours. “Students are in line longer and employees are more rushed,” Carol said, “so if we can spread out some of that congestion from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. when the dining halls are not making as much money, we can actually increase revenue, decrease congestion, make employees happier, make students get their food faster, save some extra money all around by starting this dining incentive program.” Carroll said the program is designed to see how the dining incentive program is affecting the university.

A successful program could lead to the permanent installation of the incentives. “With this economy, 10 percent is enough to get students to change their eating habits from the regular hours of noon to 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. instead,” Carroll said. “If the program works, it is something we can implement in the school, and if not, we are still testing it out to see how effective it is.” Steve Garnett, unit manager of West End, said that the program has been advertised with table cards and distribution of the coupons throughout the week.

“In my eyes, what SGA is working to accomplish, is to more evenly distribute the flow of traffic through the dining halls by incentivizing the students and general public to come in during slow times, and to alleviate the pressure off of the noon to 2 p.m. rush that the dining halls typically get,” Garnett said. “I hope that overall customer satisfaction is increased and that the flow of traffic is more evenly distributed.”

McCarty said that the dining centers are losing money when students are not accessing the dining halls during the hours of 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“From 3 to 5 p.m. it is nearly empty in the dining halls, so what we found is that there are all of these fixed costs that dining has to pay, which is the staff, who gets paid hourly wages whether people show up or not,” McCarty said. “The lighting is a fixed cost, the grills, food, all of that stuff is all fixed costs, and the only thing that changes is the food for sale so what we want to do is to help lessen the stress for the dining staff.”

Another big issue, McCarty added, is that a lot of the dining staff are students, and they have expressed concern about how bad traffic is during those peak hours.

“We saw this as an opportunity to meet the students needs by hopefully reducing congestion and then reducing that feeling of stress during those two hours that are non-stop work for them,” McCarty said. “We really see this as being a huge win-win opportunity and hopefully this is something that will continue based on the feedback that is provided during that week.”

McCarty said that SGA is fortunate to work with Housing and Dining Services on the incentive.

“They realize that the student is who we are all serving, and if students want something open later, then that is what they are going to do,” McCarty said. “They care so much.”

Coupons are available in the SGA office in 321 Squires, and tickets are located in selected dining facilities around campus.

“Honestly, the goal with the program is to meet the concerns of the students, which have been that during peak dining hours students are not having the best dining experience that they can have,” McCarty said. “Dining services has worked with us because they see that the student is who they are serving, that is their customer and that is who they care about so, I think we see great potential and hopefully this becoming something bigger than the pilot.”

Source: Collegiate Times

~ by shanemccarty on September 22, 2009.

One Response to “Non-peak dining to save students money”

  1. […] said one of the main focuses is on a dining incentive program. “The biggest thing right now that we are focused on, that we have spent the summer working […]

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