For the leadership of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), providing a wide variety of dining options has always been an important part of serving the campus community, which is located in the San Fernando Valley. With 38,000 students and more than 4,000 faculty and staff, the sheer size of the university could create a big enough challenge by itself, but the demographics of the community make selecting campus restaurants even more daunting.
“Students, faculty, and staff on any college campus are all very busy and have a limited amount of time, so they need fast and convenient dining options,” says Tim Killops, associate director for facilities and operations at CSUN for more than 10 years. “In addition, this community is very interested in health and nutrition, so we also want to make sure we’re providing healthy options,” Killops says. This combination of factors has made Subway a perfect choice for the campus.
A Subway franchise has been in operation in the CSUN student union since 1991. “Subway gives you the opportunity to quickly and easily provide a lot of healthy options on campus,” says Killops. The campus Subway has been successful in part because the restaurant is so well known. “We’ve learned over the years that brand recognition plays an important role in sales,” says Killops. “We’ve switched brands of dining franchises on campus in the past and seen a negative effect because of the lack of brand recognition. But everyone knows Subway, and knows what they can expect: a great sandwich at a reasonable price.”
All the dining facilities on campus are run by the University Corporation, a nonprofit auxiliary department providing commercial and administrative services for CSUN. While the corporation is nonprofit, franchises on campus need to be financially sustainable, and any surplus revenue that goes back to the university is an added benefit, Killops says. “Profitability is definitely a factor, and in that regard, our Subway is very successful.” With nearly a dozen different campus dining options to manage and oversee, the ease with which Subway operates has been important. “Subway is so well run, they make it easy for us,” says Killops. “They have very high standards for their food quality and cleanliness of their facilities, and give us guidelines to follow. The brand is so well thought out and well planned, they take the work out of it for us.”
The fast convenience of the restaurant has also been important, particularly in light of its popularity. “Our Subway is very busy, and often has long lines at peak times of the day,” says Killops. “But, our campus has come to expect those lines to move quickly, because that’s the nature of the brand. It’s a very well organized operation, and offers a quick way to get a healthy meal.” While sales and high traffic communicate positive feedback from the community, Subway also offers surveys to measure customer satisfaction. “The feedback we have received from students and faculty on surveys has been very positive as well,” says Killops. Killops is clear in making a recommendation to other institutions. “Subway is such a highly recognized brand, they have such high standards for quality and consistency and have such a well-run operation. And on a college campus, you have a built-in customer base. Those factors create the perfect mix for success. For other colleges and universities considering new campus dining options, I would strongly recommend that they consider Subway.”