Porter Consulting Foodservice Planning & Design

Sonoma State University - Rohnert Park, CA

Neil Markley, Senior Director for Entrepreneurial Activities
Rohnert Park, CA

In Spring 2007, Sonoma State University (SSU) hired our firm to create a campus-wide dining services master plan for the University as well as to review the planned programming and space allocation program for the new University Center.  The current student center was outdated and undersized for the current population, lacked sufficient and attractive meeting space and was no longer conveniently located to the academic core of campus. SSU planned to build a new state-of-the-art campus center near the recreation center conveniently located next to one major parking lot and to the academic core of campus. One of the goals of this new building is create social/meeting space for campus community members and especially commuter students, 84% of whom live within one mile of campus. Other challenges facing SSU’s dining services department: a dated residential dining venue that was off the beaten path, a meal plan program that offered meals-per-week plans that students disliked and an untapped commuter student market which was largely underserved by the current facilities.

Our team kicked off this project by spending three days on campus where we immersed ourselves in the campus culture. We toured the campus and all of the dining venues as well as conducted focus groups and interviews with students (resident and non-resident), faculty, staff and administrators. Our goal was to learn as much as we could about customers’ current perceptions of the campus dining program. Using this valuable information, we created a web-based survey to further confirm and/or challenge these perceptions and to evaluate how campus customers might react to possible changes to the dining program including different meal plan options and services. More than 600 customers responded to the survey.

After analyzing the results of the survey and our qualitative market research, we presented our findings and preliminary recommendations to campus decision makers. They embraced our recommendations which included consolidating most of the dining venues into the new University Center in order to maximize food production and labor efficiencies and to provide convenient dining options for the majority of SSU’s campus constituents. To illustrate these savings, our team completed extensive five-year financial projections complete with staffing matrices for all of the recommended venues in the new University Center along with revenue and expense projections which were rolled into a proforma. The financial projections were included in a final report which was delivered to the University in Fall 2007 summarizing our findings and providing narrative descriptions of our recommendations.

Projects & References

Brigham Young University Idaho
College of Saint Benedict
Concordia College
Ferris State University
Johns Hopkins Health Systems
Montcalm Community College
St. Bonaventure University
San Jose State University
SUNY Cortland
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Richmond
University of New Hampshire
Wellesley College

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