The Last Chapter Pub experienced an increase in use from students over the course of the 2017-2018 school year; however, this increase in business resulted in difficulty managing the budget set aside for the Pub.
Pub Business Manager Lorilee Mayberry (‘18) attributes the increase of the Pub’s business to changes the staff made this year. Some changes include different snack and alcohol options and larger events such as local student bands and comedians. They have also modified their marketing strategies to reach more of the SNHU community.
“We’ve also put more work into employee training to ensure all our staff gives the same level of service to our customers,” Mayberry said.
Of the $165 Student Activities Fee that students pay semesterly, $25 is set aside to operate the Student Center. This is $152,000 per year.
This year, the Pub experimented with additional hours, food and materials. Associate Director Elizabeth LaClair said, combined with the increase in business, the $7,000 budget for free snacks and drinks was exhausted by February when it was supposed to last through June.
Another issue was surrounding the staff’s shifts. Each employee is allotted approximately 12 hours per week to work, according to LaClair. This limitation was exceeded by many employees this year due to management’s experimentation with double shifts.
“We had some really weird doubles during quiet times, which we really should have evaluated earlier, so we pulled some of those people,” LaClair said.
There was also an issue with staff members picking up extra shifts. As a result, some employees had their work hours monitored more carefully and some shifts were cut.
Mayberry further elaborated on the reason behind these shift cuts, explaining that employees were “dropping and/or picking up too many shifts, especially on the weekends.”
The Pub also encountered unexpected costs this year that required immediate attention. This included an issue with the cooler freezing in the early fall semester, costing $3,000 to fix. Products that were ruined inside the cooler when it froze also had to be replaced.
The Student Center management’s experimentation with different ideas in an attempt to gauge students’ interest and increase business further drained the budget.
For example, after reviewing analytics, 10 a.m. was found to be one of the busiest times, outside of wet shifts, according to LaClair. “We started opening at 9 a.m. instead of 10 [a.m.] and we’ve noticed big sales at 9 in the morning.” LaClair said.
To be more environmentally conscious, LaClair said the Pub introduced compostable cups and straws. “They cost more money but it’s a better decision I think,” LaClair said, noting that the pros and cons were considered.
There were also some adjustments to the Pub’s menu this year. For example, Dino Nuggets were introduced as a Pub Grub item. More cookies were ordered than in previous semesters, and chocolate almonds emerged as a free snack. While LaClair said she is researching other cookie vendors, expensive snacks such as chocolate almonds may only be offered as Pub specials here and there.
LaClair cited solutions to ensure this issue does not arise in years to come. “I think we’re going to hire some more work study only next year,” LaClair said. Work study dollars come from financial aid awards, not the Student Center’s budget. She recognizes, though, that there are not many campus job options for university paid students, and sympathizes with them.
There are also plans to expand the snack budget to $10,000 next year. To accommodate the increasing campus student population, LaClair hopes to find deals that increase the budget. “I think there’s a little bit of reorganization that we can keep doing. I think there are deals we can do ourselves,” she said. “I’d love to do a deal with Coke.”
She does not foresee an increase in the Student Activities Fee, noting that students pay enough to attend college as it is. Instead, she wants even more students to utilize the building and its services. “The biggest case I could make for ever needing more money or resources or services… I can provide you with more services if more people are in the space, and earlier in the morning and later at night.”