When you contact local venues and organizations about applying to be one of the food concession vendors, there are many questions to bear in mind. Below is a list of helpful questions that you will want to be sure and ask the event coordinator before you decide whether or not an event is right for your business.
The No-Brainer Questions
These are the questions that everyone will ask. Before you begin asking about any other aspects of the event, confirm that dates and location of the event are correct. Once you have done this, you can move into more specific questions.
These are questions that will give you answers that are important to know such as attendance, fees and other charges.
- What is the expected attendance? This is quite possibly the most important question to ask as this will give you an idea of how many customers you can expect to visit the event. If you are speaking with a event that is having its first season, ask for a reasonable estimate based on the organization’s research.
- How many other food vendors are participating? A corn roasting stand was the only one of its kind at a festival and the line stretched around the corner. You will need to know how many competitors you are up against. If there are too many vendors, your profits will not be worth the time you invested. However, if there are too few, you run the risk of being inundated with customers and running out of supplies.
- What are the event’s hours? Finding out what the event’s hours are will tell you whether the event is right for your concession business or not. If the event is held in the earlier hours of the day and ends before lunch, it is best not to book that venue if your primary menu items are served in the afternoon.
- Will admission be charged? If the organization behind the event is charging admission, attendees will be slightly less likely to spend money on concession food because they feel as though they have already spent enough just by entering the event.
- What is the space fee and how is it charged? Even moderately small events will charge a space fee, and it is critical to find out how much it is, whether it is a flat fee or a percentage of total sales. If it is a flat fee, find out how the fee is calculated. If the fee is based on a percentage of sales, obtain the percentage and the deposit required to book the space.
- Are there policies about duplicate menus? Many times, events have policies in place preventing duplicate menus or limiting the amount of menus that can be similar. For example, a venue may limit the amount of kettle corn vendors to three. This is to keep variety at a peak and make certain that their event attendees have a wide selection of food.
Asking these questions will help you determine how easily you will be able to set up and run your concession stand during the event.
- How accessible is the venue? Being able to easily get your trailer parked and set up is extremely important. It is critical that you will be provided with enough space to park your trailer, as well as provide you with any additional room you may need for a tent or table adjacent to the trailer.
- What sort of utilities will be available? Inquire as to what type of power will be available for vendors to use. Of course, most concession trailers run on propane and electricity, but it is good to know how close water hookups are and whether there will be electricity available at all. Knowing what sort of utilities will be available ahead of time will allow you to come prepared with a generator and your own source of fresh water, if those utilities will not be provided.
- Is there parking for extra vehicles? If you will be bringing more than one vehicle to the event, determine whether there will be extra spaces for those vehicles to be parked for the duration of the event so that they will be close enough to the stand that they can be easily accessible in case they are needed.
- When is set-up and tear down? Ask organizers if there will be an extra day provided for set-up, or if the set-up will have to take place in the early hours of the morning before the event takes place. If the event goes later into the evening, ask if tear down is required immediately after the event is over, or if concession trailers can remain overnight and be removed in the morning.
The Deeper Questions
Once you have some of the more obvious questions answered, it is a good idea to ask some questions that, while they may seem simple, have some strong implications if they are not properly addressed.
- What is the attraction? It is likely you have found the organization through a search for a specific type of event, but it is important to understand exactly what the organization plans to have as its main attraction. If the event is for crafters, inquire as to whether it is for a specific type of craft or a large general event that will encompass several different types of crafts. If the organizer you are speaking with cannot give you a clear definition of the event they are working for, it may mean the planning and organization is quite lacking, and it would be wise to stay away from this particular event.
- What types of activities are planned? It is important to know if the event will have some types of activities planned to engage the public. If the event is a parade, find out if there will be an area after the parade for attendees to come and have a closer look at the floats and interact with the parade participants. If the event is being billed as a family-friendly event, ask what types of events will be available for children. If children are not entertained, then the probability of a family staying long and spending money at your concession stand is much less likely.
- How many concession stands are returning vendors? By finding out how many of the vendors are returning, you can get an idea of how well the event performs. If the event is in its early years, yet concession vendors continue to return, this is likely an event on the rise. Be very cautious with events that have been occurring annually for many years, yet somehow never seem to have vendors return. This could be an indicator that the event is not very concession-friendly.
By conducting very thorough research of every event, you are more likely to develop a good idea of the events that will work well for the type of concession business you are running.