Porter Khouw Consulting has worked with Brigham Young University Idaho on many projects and in Spring 2007, the University again hired our firm to complete an operational analysis of its current dining program prior to the completion of the renovated Manwaring Center. Campus administrators wanted to take a closer look at the University Dining Services (UDS) department’s operational systems to assess the appropriateness of all of the venues’ staffing levels, the department’s training modules and their effectiveness, the utilization of the department’s business systems and the longer-term financial implications the new dining venues and program enhancements would have on the department’s bottom line. At the time, BYU Idaho was preparing to make several significant changes to its dining program including the elimination of mandatory meal plans for residential students and a move away from all-you-care-to-eat dining to an a la carte environment including the opening of a new 1,300-seat marche dining venue in the Manwaring Center.
The scope of work included critically evaluating the University Dining Services department’s overall management and organizational structure, labor, financial accountability, financial reporting by business unit, financial performance measures for all dining operations, inventory management and other business systems and the current dining program. Our team also conducted personal interviews and focus groups with campus administrators and dining services employees. With our market research complete, we returned to campus to present our findings and preliminary recommendations to University administrators.
We recommended that BYU Idaho invest in a complete inventory and business management system in order to gather empirical data that would allow managers to make informed decisions regarding various aspects of the dining program now and in the future. We also recommended that the University consider offering anytime dining (unlimited access with unlimited seconds) in the new marche venue in order to provide students with the traditional style of campus dining that many students said they would miss with the move to all a la carte venues. We also recommended other changes to enhance customer service and catering services. Even though the University has made the decision not to require mandatory meal plans, Porter Khouw recommended two meal plan options that would allow the University to offer a hybrid of a la carte and anytime dining and provide flexibility to the campus community. Since approximately 20% of BYU Idaho students are married with families, we recommended that children of meal plan holders be allowed to eat free during anytime dining service.
To illustrate the financial impact of our recommendations, we completed a five-year financial model along with a recommended organizational chart illustrating additional positions we believed that the University’s Dining Services department should have in place in order to be most successful. Our key organizational recommendation was the addition of a senior retail dining manager with at least three to five years of retail foodservice experience to lead the department into its new retail environment.