Georgia Southern University

In Fall 2010, Porter Khouw Consulting was hired by Georgia Southern University (GSU) to create a five year campus-wide dining services master plan in anticipation of the University’s plans to renovate two of its largest dining venues, Landrum Dining Hall and Lakeside Café. Over the past five years, GSU has experienced significant enrolment growth and it expects this trend to continue. At the time, it was also considering adding 1,000 more beds on the south end of campus and GSU anticipated approximately 5,000 commuter students by 2016. With these renovations, one of GSU’s goals is to grow voluntary meal plan participation and provide the entire campus community with a world-class dining program.

Our team kicked off this project by spending three days on campus where we immersed ourselves in the campus culture. We toured the campus and all of the dining venues as well as conducted focus groups and interviews with students (resident and non-resident), faculty, staff and administrators. Our goal was to learn as much as we could about customers’ current perceptions of the campus dining program. Using this valuable information, we created a web-based survey to further confirm and/or challenge these perceptions and to evaluate how campus customers might react to possible changes to the dining program including different meal plan options and services.

After analyzing the results of the survey and our qualitative market research, we presented our findings and preliminary recommendations to campus decision makers. They embraced our recommendations which included renovating Landrum Dining Hall into a state-of-the-art marche-style dining venue with multiple exhibition cooking platforms, various styles of seating and contemporary furnishings. We also recommended more customer-friendly meal plans and extended hours of operation that would allow meal plan holders to eat when and where they wanted to.

To illustrate financial implications of our recommendations, we completed extensive five-year financial projections complete with staffing matrices along with revenue and expense projections which were rolled into a proforma. We also completed preliminary demand analysis to determine the required square footage for Landrum Dining Hall that accounted for the recent enrollment growth and the possibility of 1,000 more beds. The financial projections and preliminary demand model were included in a final report which was delivered to the University in January 2012 summarizing our findings and providing narrative descriptions of our recommendations.

Subsequently, PKC was hired as the lead foodservice consultant for these multi-million dollar renovation projects that include significantly increasing the footprints of both dining venues. Both projects were completed in Fall 2013.

“The start has been Awesome! Challenging, but awesome!” says Yawn. “The new facilities and program have truly allowed us to offer our students the excellent food, the exceptional customer service, and the sense of community that we promise in our mission statement! That’s not just lip service. It has been really cool to have students coming in for simple snacks, smoothies, and espresso drinks as well as complete meals. We have regularly seen students coming in our new dining commons just to hang out with friends and having the social interaction that students are not getting in many other places any longer. Students have responded positively to the variety of food selections and the ways in which they are now prepared and these components have certainly enhanced the sense of community we intended to attain from this project.

“As for our sales, you may remember that we created our proforma for our state Board of Regents based solely on our freshmen class total due to their required participation. That total freshmen count of 3500 to 3600 students was exceeded by over 1500 participants. We had quite a few upperclassmen buying dining plans after they witnessed and experienced what we now have to offer.”