Five Ways to Build Your Staff Management Skills for a More Profitable Food Concession Business

busy food booth

a busy food concession trailer

Many food concessionaires feel that hiring and managing good help is one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of managing a food concession business. It is also one of the most important. Working in a food concession is not rocket science. Yet, as a manager, hiring the right people with the right qualities to help your business run smoothly and profitably is often harder than you’d expect.  Fortunately, with the right policies you can improve your staff for a more profitable food concession business.

  1. Hire the Right People. Successfully staffing your concession business starts with finding and hiring the right people for the job. Honesty and reliability are the first qualities we look for in a concession worker. A worker who also learns quickly and can multi-task is much better. If they are also friendly, outgoing, and energetic they are ideal. Perhaps, equally important; because the success of a food concession business depends on maximizing sales during peak sales times a worker must be able to work quickly and competently, while confidently managing hordes of impatient, hungry customers.
  2. Guard Against Theft. In most cases a concession worker will spend much of his or her time being the cashier. This creates frequent opportunities to pocket money on the sly. The best defense you have against theft is to, first, know your business. Although you may never catch the thief in the act, you should always have a pretty good idea how much revenue the booth has produced and a good instinct for inconsistencies. Requiring the cashier to verbalize each order, the price, and amount in change made to the customer, lets you know what has transpired at the cash register even when your back is turned. This policy also protects the cashier from the customer who makes false accusations that an error was made.
  3. Be Honest with Your Staff. Be honest and straight-forward with your staff. Articulate your specific expectations and possible reasons for termination. By initiating an honest, fair-minded, and team-oriented policy from the outset, the incentive for dishonesty may be eliminated.
  4. Articulate Your Standards. Address the intangible aspects of your business. By articulating your high standards for cleanliness, product quality, service quality, and appropriate interaction with the public, your workers will be clear where you stand on their role in representing your business.
  5. Reward Your Staff. Beyond the reward of earning a decent pay, sometimes it’s the little things that inspire good employees. Let them know how much you appreciate their help. Have fun in the booth. Further, by placing a tip jar on the front counter for your workers they receive instant gratification and motivation for providing your customers with good service. And, the ritualistic counting of the tip jar at the end of a busy day has its own rewards.

Although all of these policies will surely help you build your staff management skills, there are many more worth mentioning, and I’d be curious to know what other policies you’d add to this list. As always, your thoughts, comments, and shares are very much appreciated.




About admin

With nearly three decades of experience in the food concession business, a position on the Oregon Food Services Advisory Board and as founder of Northwest Vendor’s Network Association, Barb Fitzgerald is a leading authority on this unique mode of self-employment. Her own experience and dedicated passion for the concession business drives her belief in the food concession business as a path to self-employment for nearly anyone with the desire to become responsible for their own income. She is a concession start-up consultant, and the best-selling author of, Food Booth, The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business. Go to:
This entry was posted in concession operations and managment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Five Ways to Build Your Staff Management Skills for a More Profitable Food Concession Business

  1. GameofPhone says:

    Very interesting article, I have thought about joining the concession business which is how I found your site. I was having a discusion about tip jars with a group of people recently and from it I gathered the feeling that the majority of people dislike tip jars, and it makes them more uncomfortable to shop at your establishment. I am not trying to be anti-tipping I do wonder though if there is any data at how tipping at certain types of food places ie., carts, fast food, walk-up windows can affect the business. Would it be viable to instead of doing a tip jar to give your employee(s) a small bonus based on how well the stand does each week?

  2. admin says:

    Hmmm, good question. If there is such a study, I am unaware of it. Tip jars were not common in the concession business until about 20 years ago when espresso stands made the practice of tipping at food stands normal. I find that my staff prefers the challenge of the tip jar – like a competition – far more inspiring than a modest bonus. I also get the sense that the public can either choose to ignore the jar, or appreciate a chance to show appreciation for the good service they receive. After all, concession workers are no different than waiters – they often bust a hump to provide good service to a difficult public, for long hours, in uncomfortable conditions, at low wages.