Getting it to go: 2010 Portability Study

Six operators share how they are seeing growth in their take-away business.

Grab and Go: 25% and Growing

Among foodservice facilities that offer portable, grab-and-go food options, one quarter of the total foodservice revenue is generated by such items, according to the 2010 Portability Study conducted by FoodService Director.

Our study surveyed more than 300 operators in schools, colleges, hospitals, long-term and senior care facilities and business locations, and 73% said they currently offer grab-and-go service. The percentage is highest in B&I (95%) and colleges (88%), while college operators reported the highest average percentage of total revenue (32%).

Most operators surveyed (52%) added that they expect the volume of takeout business to grow in the coming year. Seventy-two percent of college operators and 66% of hospital directors expect to see an increase in their grab-and-go revenue.

Customers’ busy lifestyles was the reason most often cited by operators as the reason for the expected increase, with 54% of respondents indicating that “customers have less time to spend in the dining area.” “Stated customer demand” and “increase in customer base” each were noted by 45% of operators, while 17% said “less seating capacity” and 11% cited “higher profits on prepackaged items due to labor savings.”

Conversely, only 5% said they expect to see a drop in grab-and-go business, with a decline in customer base or a decrease in demand as the reasons most often cited.

A wide range of items are sold in the grab-in-go format, with salads from the salad bar being the most popular.

Most operators (59%) said that grab-and-go service “saves labor in a way that boosts profitability, with 77% of college operators and 68% of school foodservice directors agreeing with that statement. Interestingly, 61% of B&I operators disagreed, possibly seeing the takeout option more as a customer convenience than a labor-saving device.

Also, operators by and large agree that point-of-sale merchandising trumps marketing tools in building grab-and-go sales. Only 21% of operators—with 3% of schools and 15% of hospitals being the lowest—use such items as promotions, coupons and discounts to attract customers, with most believing that dedicated take-away stations and improved merchandising displays and packaging materials will drive traffic.

Finally, biodegradable containers continue to rank among the less likely packaging option for grab-and-go service, with only 32% of operators offering such containers. Biodegradability is most often embraced by college (57%) and B&I (42%) operators.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
shaking hands graphic

Anyone who has moseyed down the self-help section of the local bookstore, probably has picked up on the mantra that positive relationships are built on trust. Employer-employee bonds are no different, according to research published in the January-February issue of Harvard Business Review. The study reports that employees at high-trust companies experience 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days and 76% more engagement. Here’s how operators can start putting those numbers on the board.

Putting in the effort

At the University of...

Ideas and Innovation
bowling ball pins

We patterned our chef culinary competition after the one pioneered by the University of Massachusetts. This year, 11 teams of college chefs registered. Each team gets the same market basket and has two hours to prepare three dishes. The starting times have to be staggered and nobody wants the 6 a.m. slot, so instead of randomly assigning times, this year we took the teams bowling and used their scores to determine starting times. The two teams with the highest combined bowling score got to pick their time slot first. Going bowling built camaraderie and team spirit before the teams even got...

Managing Your Business
performance review anxiety

For all the most obvious reasons, managers and staff don’t always agree. But both sides can get behind retiring annual performance reviews, according to a January survey from software company Adobe, which quit the practice in 2012. There, 64% of surveyed workers and 62% of supervisors consider yearly evaluations outdated.

“My philosophy is if I have to wait a year to tell you where you stand, it’s a little too late,” says Al Ferrone, senior director of dining services at the University of California at Los Angeles. Ferrone and other operators are reforming the meetings to add real...

Ideas and Innovation
woman sick phone bed

Our employees have paid time off, but if they don’t call in at least one hour before their scheduled shift, their PTO will be docked for the day. We also assign points for unapproved absences. Everyone starts with a freebie, and when they get to 4, then we start the disciplinary action process. When a staff member gets to 10 points, that is grounds for termination.

FSD Resources