In Fall 2006, our team was retained by Ferris State University to provide recommendations for the significant enhancement of dining services on campus and an overall evaluation and assessment of the campus dining service venues and operations. It’s important to note that as part of the process, our team studied the University’s strategic master plan and grand vision and considered how the planned changes to the campus and the University’s initiatives would impact Dining Services. Another important goal of the University was to become an “engaged campus.” Specific goals included identifying ways to create new connections between the classroom, the campus and its community members.
Our team kept these goals in mind as it created recommendations for not only enhancing FSU’s current dining venues but how future outlets would contribute in a positive manner toward a meaningful campus experience. Our team provided recommendations that included a new, more flexible meal plan program that eliminated unused meals, the closure and/or relocation of some existing venues without having a negative impact on the bottom line and servery redesigns that would not only increase customer throughput but also improve overall ambiance. Our recommendations provided FSU with a more contemporary and customer preference-based dining program that also supports the University’s mission and strategic plan well into the future.
Following our firm’s completion of a campus-wide dining services master plan, Ferris State University Dining Services made significant changes to enhance students’ campus dining experience. Most dramatic among these changes was the move to more customer friendly, value-added meal plans and a change in the style of service in its residential dining facilities from all-you-care-to-eat with limited meal periods to anytime dining with extended operating hours. In addition, our firm recommended that The Rock Cafe, FSU’s primarily freshmen dining facility, be renovated to improve ambiance, customer throughput and to widen menu variety and selection. Campus administrators wanted this venue to become the social gathering place on South campus.
The improved Rock Cafe is modern, contemporary and inviting. The servery now features exhibition cooking and a wide variety of offerings including a pizza station with a wood-burning brick oven, a Mongolian grill, a supersized salad bar, plus deli, hot entrée, specialty foods and dessert stations. The dining room features all new furniture including large and small tables and booths, new floor and wall coverings and new lighting as well as a fireplace with soft seating. As a result of Porter’s equipment survey, we identified several pieces of existing equipment that could be reused in the redesign. Our firm also designed the adjacent convenience store that offers a selection of pre-packaged food and non-food products, bottled beverages and more. As a result of the changes to the dining program including the new meal plans, expanded hours of operation and the renovation, FSU Dining Services has realized a 27 percent increase in voluntary meal plan sales and a 169% increase in cash/credit card sales.
“In 2006, Ferris State University engaged the services of Porter Khouw Consulting to complete a market study and a comprehensive five-year master plan for Dining Services. Recommendations that came from the market research assisted us in ‘hitting a home run’ with our campus community by converting our existing dining program to a model program for colleges and universities, health care operations, K-12 operations, and commercial operations alike. One of the primary recommendations of the master plan was to renovate The Rock Café, located in the heart of FSU’s residential community.
“We hired PKC again to assist us in ‘hitting a grand slam’ with the creation of a state-of-the-art dining venue. The Rock Cafe has quickly become a very popular dining destination for residence hall students, commuters, students living off campus, faculty/staff members, and local community residents. It has also become a primary recruiting tool for prospective students. According to our Vice President for Student Affairs, Dan Burcham, the dining experience at The Rock becomes the ‘seal the deal’ moment for most prospective students and parents. PKC partners David Porter and Albin Khouw, supported by their team of experts, have exceeded our expectations by helping FSU become very engaged in our campus. Their professionalism, expertise, and partnership have been invaluable in the creation of an outstanding dining program at Ferris State University.”
FSU The Rock Cafe August 2010