Blog Posts

Feeding Fan Food Experiences

This is an excerpt from Joe Hudson’s chapter in “The GM’s Handbook” which is available in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.

No kid ever says that he wants to make a minor league baseball career out of working in food & beverage. Making a career out of working in food and beverage had never been a goal of mine. Matter of fact, working in food and beverage was never the goal even after accepting my first job at the minor league ballpark in town. It is the forgotten side of the house, but one of the major ancillaries where minor league franchises make their money. Talk tickets all day long, but the second the tickets are bought, it comes down to what else you can sell them, to capitalize on their stay at the ballpark.

My drive to work in minor league baseball was pretty simple: I was sixteen, looking for a way to pay for my first cell phone and have some pocket cash. And a friend’s dad worked for the local minor league team in San Bernardino, CA. My friend mentioned to me that he was going to get a job working with the team that summer and I asked if I could get one too. Pretty simple. No major fixation with working in sports. No handwringing over which team to choose. My basic intentions, looking back on it now decades later, was to have the ability to work a summer job. And somehow, I’ve stuck with it enough to have a career.

GMsHandbook
This is an excerpt from Joe Hudson’s chapter in “The GM’s Handbook” which is available in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.

Arriving at the ballpark a few weeks later to apply for the job, I found that the only available position being hired for was concessions. It wasn’t what I imagined me or my friend doing when I was asking about working for the summer. But I had little idea of what working in sports actually meant. I envisioned myself working as a batboy or something, I don’t know, but I guess I figured everything they offered was minimum wage anyway and I was just excited for my first job. Over the next seven years, amid several internal company opportunities to move up in duties, I was offered the Food & Beverage Director position with the Inland Empire 66ers.

I don’t have a culinary background. All of my time has been spent with the Elmore Sports Group. In 16 years, I’ve experienced every type of management philosophy, including a little in Utah serving food and beverage to hockey fans at the Utah Grizzlies games and an outdoor amphitheater. Now, as President of Diamond Concessions, overseeing the entire Elmore Sports Group food and beverage operations for several teams, I can safely say that trying to get that first cell phone and extra pocket cash as a teenager gave me a career. It wasn’t the career that I thought I was going to have when I started, but who envisions staying in food and beverage or minor league baseball as an employee when they are sixteen? Certainly, I wasn’t at the time, but at this point in my career, I can’t see doing anything else.

Back when I was 16, the San Bernandino owner, Dave Elmore, sat me down to discuss the position with food and beverage. He mentioned that they had continued to struggle to hit expected profitability numbers in over a decade at that point, and he didn’t think they had ever made the money that Elmore thought that the San Bernandino team should have made in food and beverage. At the time, Elmore owned a number of other minor league teams, each self-operating their own food and beverage. Meaning that he had a great knack for knowing what yield to expect from profit margins. San Bernardino had never quite hit that threshold.

Elmore’s definitive question to me was pretty clear. “Do you think you can make the concessions operation make money in San Bernardino?” It was a challenge to me that I accepted from the start. I said I did. I was nervous in taking over an operation that had never truly been profitable according to the owner. After a season of struggles, learning and successes, food & beverage started to move the needle toward profitability.

San Bernardino is home to the original McDonald’s Brothers restaurant that was founded in 1948. They created a fast food system, complete with profit margins and the elimination of waste, to ensure customer service in a clean, efficient environment. It is strange that fast food, which is as American as baseball, would have such a differing effect when considering that the San Bernardino ballpark was losing money at the one industry where internationally, it was recognized as one of the pioneers. That’s how tricky food and beverage is. You can master it in one place such as McDonald’s, and down the road, you can almost be totally oblivious on how to operate it in the ballpark.

Through every stage of my 16 years in food and beverage, there have been a lot challenges from starting entirely new operations from the ground up, to taking over existing operations that have struggled and it is my job to find ways to get it back on track. Each new challenge brings new opportunities to learn and grow in this industry. One thing is for certain, the food and beverage industry is always evolving. There is always something different and new about each season and maybe even each event. It’s the aspect that each day brings new challenges that I truly enjoy, and maybe why I keep doing it.

This is an excerpt from Joe Hudson’s chapter in “The GM’s Handbook” which is available in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.

Previous post

From Bottom To Top

Next post

Floorball Is Hockey's Group Ticket Sales Dream

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.