Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUL 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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22 FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES JULY 2019 OPERATOR'S OPINION NC State Dining's Performance Push As the senior director of Hospitality Services at NC State Dining, the foodservice arm of North Carolina State University, Randy Lait oversees a $46 million budget with annual sales volume at $49 million. The dining program serves 31,000 meals per day and employs 150 full-time employees and more than 1,000 part-time employees. Lait was recognized with a 2019 IFMA Silver Plate Award. He also recently accepted a new role at NC State leading the administrative services group for Campus Enterprises, with responsibilities for Œnance, accounting, human resources and informa- tion technology for the division. Lait and the dining services team have created a full spectrum of dining services, including three all-you-care-to-eat dining halls and three additional buildings with multiple foodservice operations spanning from convenience stores, a private Œne- dining club and retail operations. The din- ing services arm also includes full-service catering, food trucks and concessions for football, basketball, and track and Œeld. Dining services also creates training meals exclusively for student athletes that focus on performance- enhancing nutrition. Football players, for example, eat what's dubbed as training table meals in the dining room at the Murphy Football Center, where the team works out, studies, rehabs, etc. Q: What is your secret to successfully introducing 12 new dining venues in a 2-year period? A: I wish there was a secret or easy way to do it. The team put in a lot of hard work and there was a lot of planning, discussion, agreement, disagreement and decisions. I tend to be a big-picture thinker and I could see we needed to carefully coordinate a number of foundational elements to work together positively when the timelines all met. We designed the foodservice layouts with the architects, but at the same time, we studied our meal plans to determine what price points could be supported in the new locations. We also determined how the menus needed to be built to maximize our effectiveness and what kind of culinary talent we would need to achieve our goals for fresh, healthy and sustainable recipes in these new locations. We built a pro forma for each operation with customer counts per daypart, average checks, food cost percentages and the person-hours per week that could be sustained by sales. In the end, we had pretty good plans for the new ven- ues and most of our work was on target. Q: How do you stay on budget and still accomplish so much? A: One key to staying within a budget is to have a reasonable expectation for perfor- mance and to avoid surprises. We have been fortunate to have a strong meal plan program that continues to grow year after year, both in price point and in the number of plans purchased. This has helped fuel solid revenue growth for the department, which in turn generates resources that can be used to make other improvements, which in turn generates more revenues. We have been in an upward spiral for many years in a row, and this year, we will Œnish with record meal plan sales and record customer satisfaction scores. Q: Talk about your focus on health and nutrition. A: NC State University is very focused Randy Lait Senior Director of Hospitality Services North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. Mobile ordering is a game changer for the industry and it will be interesting to see it develop. | By Donna Boss |

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