University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati,

Foodservice Strategic Plan

In 2014 the University of Cincinnati recognized that its dining services program represented an opportunity to reinforce the university’s brand, enhance its recruitment efforts, and elevate its students’ quality of life. In an effort to build on this opportunity and understand its current foodservice paradigm and areas for improvement, the university retained B&D to complete a campus-wide dining program assessment and assist in compiling strategies for inclusion in the university’s dining program master plan. The initial step in our work plan was a Strategic Asset Value work session with campus leadership, with a focus on finding consensus around the project’s goals and how they fit into the institution’s overall mission. Focus group interviews were conducted with students, faculty, and staff, as well as a benchmarking assessment of peer institutions and aspirational dining programs. An electronic survey was developed, sent to the campus community, and analyzed. Additionally, the project team toured campus-edge dining facilities to understand the local competition. Finally, we analyzed the university’s meal plans and enrollment data to develop a campus dining demand model. We concluded that facility changes would help drive foot traffic, increase revenues, and promote social interaction. Recommended strategies included:

Making targeted facility improvements at the Center Court board dining location to create the desired ambiance
Increasing the total number of retail dining facilities and seating capacities to accommodate demand and facilitate campus community interaction
Adding upscale, fast-casual offerings to the campus retail mix, in keeping with industry trends
Creating destination value at the future board dining facility by selecting unique platforms that reflect the University’s identity and students’ preferences

Among the operational changes recommended were to expanded to-go program offerings and greater menu variety. Defined technology improvements would enable a mobile order-and-pay option, increase the use of social media to interact with students, and promote the dining program. Opportunities for meal plan changes were identified to optimize financial performance and create a cohesive campus dining experience.