In Spring 2012, Simon Fraser University (SFU) hired PKC to assist the University with renegotiating its foodservice contract. The University was experiencing a decline in meal plan participation and high dissatisfaction with its campus dining program. SFU wanted the renegotiation process completed by May 31, 2012 in order to implement changes over the summer, including a new meal plan program with 24 hour unlimited access and several other service enhancements. SFU had struggled in recent years with dated foodservice facilities, declining meal plan participation and growing dissatisfaction with the campus dining program.
In order to identify issues with the current program as well as customer preferences regarding meal plans, menu variety and selection and hours of operation, our team spent three days on campus touring venues and observing operations, as well as conducting focus groups and personal interviews with a wide variety of constituents including students, faculty/staff and administrators. This qualitative market research was used to create a web-based survey which was distributed campus wide.
Our team then analyzed all of the market research and developed preliminary recommendations for the University including meal plan options, hours of operation for all of the campus dining venues, suggestions regarding menu variety and selection modifications to existing retail dining outlets and other programming details. Our recommendations were embraced by the University and our team used these recommendations to renegotiate the University’s contract with its current service provider. As part of this process, PKC facilitated an incumbent-only bidding process where we required the incumbent to submit a proposal to operate the optimum dining program as outlined in the incumbent-only RFP using recommendations provided by PKC and approved by SFU.
The results in the changes to campus-wide dining program have been overwhelmingly positive. Based on our recommendations, SFU is the first Canadian university to offer 24/7 Anytime Dining. Customer satisfaction has risen 30% and meal plan sales have grown 49% (including 243 voluntary plans where they previously had zero voluntary participation) in two years. Door rate participation at the dining hall is up 25%. Customer complaints have vanished and the community is thrilled with all of the changes that have been made, including extended hours of operation, new branded concepts, renovated facilities and more. SFU Dining Services was named Champions for a Healthy Campus Community by the University.
PKC is currently working with SFU to expand its 24/7 Anytime Dining venue.
“David Porter’s vision, passion and tenacity produced a game-changing set of recommendations for us that has completely turned around our campus dining program,” says McLaughlin. “The dining plan he and his team developed profoundly increased and enriched social engagement among our very diverse population, faculty and staff.”