In Spring 2013, our team was retained by SUNY Canton to create a campus-wide dining plan. The goal of this project was provide the College with an understanding of the current satisfaction levels and customer desires and to create a set of recommendations regarding revenue opportunities as well as a complete financial analysis of the program and a detailed business plan. The scope of work included an assessment of all aspects of the dining program including residential and retail options, catering services and meal plans. The final report was designed to provide a long-term dining services master plan that the College Association can use as a strategic roadmap for future planning.
One of the main challenges with the College’s dining program was its outdated dining venue. Chaney Dining Commons was built in the 1960s and had undergone only minor renovations since then. The venue, coupled with the inflexible meal plans, created customer dissatisfaction and discouraged meal plan participation and campus community members from wanting to eat/gather in the dining commons. The hours of operation and level of service in the dining commons was also problematic as both were limited during the week and especially on weekends.
To kick off this project, PKC spent three days on campus in March 2013 to conduct in-depth qualitative market research including on-site focus groups and personal interviews with students, faculty and staff. The information gathered from these stakeholder interviews was used to create a customized web-based survey that was distributed to all campus community members. Using all of the qualitative and quantitative market research, PKC provided the College with recommendations for all current dining facilities with regard to more customer-friendly and value-added meal plans, menu variety and selection, ambiance, hours of operation, methods of service, and methods of payment. We also prepared a detailed financial analysis and business plan including five year financial projections that illustrated the financial implications of our recommendations.