In Fall 2013, PKC was retained by York University to assist with the development of a 10-year strategic foodservice master plan for its Keele and Glendon campuses. (York’s total enrollment is approximately 55,000.) York has an urban setting and a diverse campus population along with a highly decentralized campus foodservice operation on its Keele campus with multiple vendors and entities that operate/oversee foodservice operations including those in the Student Centre and York Lanes. YU’s foodservice department (through its vendor Aramark) operates the residential dining units and multiple retail units (plus catering) and they were experiencing issues with high customer dissatisfaction, low meal plan participation, complaints about long lines, lack of choice and pricing. Campus administrators were also concerned about the impact the issues related to the dining program were having on campus housing and students’ perceived value and willingness to live on campus. (The dining program was not perceived as a plus to living on campus). YU administrators were also concerned about the lack of social architecture on campus and wanted to identify ways to create exciting and inviting dining venues that would provide comfortable and convenient places for residential and commuter students, faculty and staff to gather throughout the day seven days a week in order to connect and interact with each other and build community spirit. Finally, YU administrators also wanted to present a holistic approach to campus dining, and wanted PKC to assist them with identifying ways to improve the foodservice operations under the University’s purview while making sure that they were in step with the other offerings on campus.
PKC’s scope of work included qualitative and quantitative market research on both campuses, operational audits of the dining venues for both campuses, confirmation and development of foodservice options for three residential dining facilities and multiple retail venues operated by YU, development of value-added meal plans and other programming elements that will allow YU to build a stronger social architecture on its campuses, grow meal plan sales and improve overall satisfaction. PKC is in the process of finalizing the final report which provides all of the results of our market research and operational audits along with financial projections illustrating the revenue/expenses implications of our recommendations, demand modeling and capital costs estimates for venues we recommended constructing and a 10-year timeline for implementing this strategic foodservice master plan for both the Keele and Glendon campuses.
Two of the expected outcomes of this project are that 1) the new optimum dining program will add value to the entire foodservice program on campus and to the residential student life experience and 2) that the University will be able to capture more meal plan business from commuter students as the dining program we outlined provides extended hours of operation (including 24/7) and convenient, customer-friendly venues where commuters can gather to study or hang out during the day and those who live close to campus can have safe on-campus environments to study, eat and socialize when it is most convenient for them.