How to Run a Successful Concession Stand

Planning Tips, Food Ideas & Free Online SignUps

A great concession stand doesn't just happen – it takes a lot of work and organization and requires a deep commitment on the part of the volunteers. Planning a concession stand doesn't have to mean high-stress, though!

How to Run a Successful Concession Stand

Tips for Raising Funds at the Concession Stand

The concession stand is one of the most underutilized sources of fundraising for schools and sports leagues. Large or small, the concession stand can quickly become a ready source for cash, and an enhancement to any school, sporting or outdoor musical event. If you don’t have a facility, start small – set up a table and sell bottles of water and granola bars! You’ll be surprised how fast your fundraising efforts will add up. Follow these tips for running a successful concession stand at your school or league field.

1. Appoint a Committee Chair or Leader

The person in charge will organize and oversee all concession activities, including gathering a team to help recruit volunteers, appointing someone to be in charge of keeping the concession stand well stocked and clean, and keeping track of funds.

2. Gather a Sufficient Volunteer Staff

To make sure you have enough inventory to sell and enough people to help, use SignUp to schedule volunteers. Volunteers can choose their shifts and items to bring and will received an automatic email to remind them of their commitments.

3.  Proper Paperwork

In many cases, a concession stand must have a manager that has attended a Food Safety Workshop (often offered online) recognized by the Health Department. Some municipalities also require permits for selling and preparing food. Check with your city and local health department for details.

4. Adequate and Attractive Facility

Even if you start with just a folding table, make sure your concession stand looks appealing. Use an attractive tablecloth and ask students to help you decorate the table or concession stand with your team's colors and logo to remind people that they are supporting the team. This also helps parents and community members feel they are part of something special. In return, they are more apt to give back by volunteering or assisting in other activities that benefit the program. This sense of belonging creates a positive environment which makes each sporting event feel special.

5.  Friendly Service

Train your volunteers in customer service. A simple “Hello, how can I help you?” and “Thank you” can go a long way in getting repeat customers!

6.  Consistent Menu

There are the tried-and-true concession foods like nachos, pickles, peanuts, popcorn, candy, gum, and sunflower seeds. Try to identify a specialty item that people look forward to and can only get at your concession stand, like homemade cookies from a local bakery. If team play is during prime meal hours, consider selling more substantial options like burritos, pizza, sandwiches and hot dogs. Establish and stick with a consistent menu so people know what to expect. Each year, analyze what sold well last season, and make adjustments accordingly.

Most Popular Concession Stand Food for Successful Fundraising

If you are running a concession stand as a fundraiser, it’s important to know which foods sell best. Keep in mind the type of event you are hosting will determine what type of concessions will be best suited. Messier options pair well with outdoor activities and prepackaged items are easier for indoors and seated events.

Hot Dogs: Hot dogs seem to sell well no matter whether your venue is a sporting event or an art walk. Be sure to have a variety of toppings in addition to ketchup and mustard.

Popcorn: There’s nothing like the smell of those buttery kernels to break down the resistance of even the most dedicated non-snacker.

Big Pretzels: Big, chewy pretzels are a wonderful treat, and can be served with a minimum of toppings.

Prepackaged Items: Many concession stands also have some prepackaged items for sale, such as chips, candy, crackers, and even gum. Brand names tend to sell better than off brands, and most concession stands need to experiment with how much prepackaged items to buy in order to make money.

Seasonal Items: Seasonal items – like popsicles in the spring and summer or hot cider and chocolate in the fall and winter – can be really profitable.

Healthy Choices: Since the concession stand often provides the family’s evening meal and many families have dietary restrictions to consider, offering healthy options may be worth the extra effort. Consider testing healthy options like trail mix, muffins, cheese sticks, dairy free fruit bars, baked chips, granola bars, hummus and crackers, and fruit or veggie cups. Your crowd may surprise you leading to a few higher-dollar, higher profitable items.

Local Flavor: Are breakfast tacos, kolaches, edamame or another local favorite dish popular in your community? By all means, match with a local vendor to bring in regional favorites to make your fundraiser even more successful.

Make It Easy for Volunteers to Get Involved

Your volunteers are key to your success and the best way to keep your volunteers happy and showing up is to make the job as EASY as possible for them. Use free SignUps to schedule shifts. With 24/7 access from any smart phone and computer with no password required, scheduling takes place in real time. SignUp sends out automatic reminders and provide eCalendar syncing.

In addition to scheduling shifts, SignUp allows you to open up other jobs for volunteers who want to be involved but can’t make the concession stand times. Create a SignUp for someone to order supplies from the local big box store. This can often be done online, and then another volunteer can be scheduled to pick the order up and deliver it to the booth.

Don’t forget to give your volunteers breaks and a snack for their break. And let SignUp send out thank you notes after their shifts!

concession stand volunteer SignUp on mobile

Looking for more great fundraising ideas? Check out our Fundraising Ideas Center!