In Spring 2013, the University of Mary hired PKC and Stantec architects to help determine foodservice components for its new campus center. In the course of this project, the University also hired PKC to assist it with rebidding its foodservice contract, which had not been competitively rebid for more than 10 years. As part of our work on campus and through stakeholder interviews, we learned that students (particularly residential students) were dissatisfied with many aspects of the current dining program including the inflexible meal plans, the limited hours of operation (particularly late night and on weekends) and with the menu variety and selection among other factors.
In order to determine the optimum dining program for the UM campus and to help inform what type and size of dining venues should be included in the new campus center, the PKC team spent several days on campus touring all of the facilities and conducting focus groups and personal interviews with key stakeholders including residential and commuter students, faculty and staff including administrators from all areas of campus life that intersect with dining including admissions, alumni relations, student life, housing, residence life, athletics, conferences and more. Our goal was to learn what role the new campus center would play in the long-term future of the campus community and how the dining program could be evolved to better meet the needs of all campus community members now and in the future. Using all of the information gathered, PKC created a web-based survey which was distributed campus wide to test new dining program services and options including new meal plans, dining locations and hours of operation.
Combining the qualitative and quantitative market research with our national experience, PKC developed the optimum dining program for the University of Mary. Our recommendations included a new vision for the residential dining venue including repurposing the main residential dining venue and opening a new state-of-the-art venue in the new campus center (along with a coffee shop and c-store), flexible and customer-friendly meal plans that will allow students to use their meal plan money when and where they want, extended hours of operation in all of the campus dining venues, expanded catering services and more. Our recommendations were embraced by the University and used in a detailed Request for Proposal which was developed by our team and sent to qualified foodservice providers. PKC facilitated the entire RFP process from issuing the RFP, facilitating the pre-bid meeting, evaluating the proposals, facilitating the finalist interviews as well as the contract negotiations. The University recently signed a new contract with foodservice management company and the results so far have been positive.
With the implementation of the new anytime dining program including expanded hours of operation (24/7 in the campus’s main dining venue) and a wider variety of menu options, the University has experienced a 19.2% increase in meal plan revenue, a 39% increase in meals served and they have sold an additional 150 voluntary meal plans.
PKC is currently providing compliance services to the University of Mary. A PKC team member has been on campus an average of at least once a month since the University signed its new foodservice contract to ensure that the contractor is meeting or exceeding all of the terms of the contract especially as it relates to the program including maintaining a wide variety of options throughout all service hours including overnight and staffing the dining venues properly to meet the outstanding customer service guidelines established in the contract.