AMS services to finish in the black

Greenroom, Tricolour register loss despite location switch

AMS VP (Operations) Ian Black said financial considerations should be secondary for AMS services.
AMS VP (Operations) Ian Black said financial considerations should be secondary for AMS services.
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When the 2006-07 budget was drawn up last summer, AMS services were expected to lose $63,469. Vice-President (Operations) Ian Black said he now expects the AMS to end the year with a surplus.

“We’re going to end up between $50,000 to $80,000 ahead of schedule overall,” he said.

In general, Black said, financial concerns are secondary for AMS services.

“We tend to only focus on financials when they’re getting in the way,” he said. “Year after year, we don’t want to be making a lot of money.

“We operate largely off student money—if we’re making a surplus, we’re taking too much money from students.”

Here’s a breakdown of some of the services:

TAPS

After losing almost $64,000 last year, The AMS Pub Services (TAPS) is coming close to breaking even.

Although it was originally budgeted to lose $30,207, Black said TAPS is above budget.

TAPS was budgeted to have a $60,337 deficit by the end of February. It finished the month $20,000 ahead, with a $40,337 deficit.

Food and Safety Director John Manning attributed the success to several good initiatives.

“First of all, starting Wednesday night at Alfie’s has been really successful. Also, at the QP we’ve put on three servers on busy nights, so that’s been really successful,” he said, adding that opening the QP for sports Saturdays has also worked well.

“The general trend at TAPS over the past few years has been positive.” Although there were several unforeseen costs in terms of repair and maintenance at both bars, Manning thinks TAPS has had a very successful year.

“We’ve been very, very happy with it. It’s been a fantastic year. I know that a lot of people are looking for TAPS to break even and see that as the benchmark for success, [but] in my opinion this has been a very successful year.”

Common Ground

Despite the introduction of several new coffee shops on campus, Common Ground has done remarkably well over the year, Manning said.

“They’ve been pretty much more or less on budget and they should have a surplus [at the end of the year] somewhere in the $10,000 to $30,000 range,” he said.

The service, which lost about $22,000 last year, is budgeted to emerge with a $27,617 surplus.

“Common Ground, over their brief history, has been building towards becoming a financially viable service,” Manning said, adding that he expects the service to continue on that path.

CFRC

With a $5,365 deficit, CFRC is currently $33,943 ahead of budget for the year. This was the radio station’s first year operating without its $48,000 grant from the University.

“We had to live with the reality this year that CFRC would operate at a deficit,” Black said, adding that in future years, the AMS will need to look at new ways to partner with the University to fund the station.

CFRC business manager Joanne Williams said one reason the radio station is doing better than projected is due to its February funding drive, which raised more than $16,000.

“We weren’t quite sure what would happen with it being the second funding drive. We did even better [than expected],” she said.

Williams said the station has also brought in more advertising revenue than expected. “I budgeted for $4,000 from advertising—that’s comparable to what was raised last year,” she said. “We ran a couple of large-scale ads for national groups like Rogers and Belair Direct and that by itself brought in more than $4,000.”

P&CC

Although by the end of February the P&CC was currently making almost a $30,000 profit, it wasn’t meeting its budgeted target of $82,622.

Bill York, student services director, said the difference is due to over-projecting in the budget, particularly in terms of courseware.

“When the copyright charges went up after we had set the budget, we decided that [raising prices] would make courseware too expensive for students. If you look at courseware, revenues are about $60,000 less than we projected,” he said, adding that sales are still up from last year.
“Next year could definitely learn from our mistakes in terms of how we set prices on courseware.”

Greenroom/Tricolour

Over last summer, the Greenroom and the Tricolour Market switched locations—a move that cost $20,000.

York said greeting card sales at the Tricolour Market have fallen, but clothing sales have more than tripled and school supplies in the Greenroom are selling better than last year.

Black said they had high expectations for the Tricolour Market’s revenue that weren’t met.

“We’re not hugely behind, [but] we’re still running a loss,” he said.

The Tricolour Market currently has a deficit of almost $67,000. It was budgeted to finish the year with a deficit of about $65,000.

Last year, the Tricolour Market ran a $101,924 loss.

The Greenroom was budgeted to lose about $44,000 for the year, which Black says is still a reasonable estimate.

“We’re still getting used to the Greenroom and the Tricolour Market. We really misjudged the amount of sales,” he said.

Greenroom manager Naomi Lutes said moving into the bottom of the JDUC meant the Greenroom needed to direct more resources towards marketing to communicate the move to students.

Budget statements from the end of February list the Greenroom as having a $56,000 deficit, compared to the $16,717 deficit it was budgeted for. Lutes said this is due in part to a software program which isn’t recognizing over $16,000 in revenue in unclaimed cheques. Courseware also brought in less revenue than expected.

York said re-structuring the management system for the services next year will help smooth out some inefficiencies in the way management is currently run.

Destination

Destinations is currently about $34,000 ahead of budget, and is set to emerge with a strong profit.

Although the surplus is partly due to conservative budgeting, Black said, it’s also due to the success of particular services Destinations offers.

Head manager Erin Bingly said part of the service’s success this year is due to the Tricolour Express bus service.

“We tried to get the word out early in the year,” she said. “It’s a good service. Students seem to enjoy it and appreciate the fact that it comes to campus.” Bingley added that staff worked hard to keep Thanksgiving bus schedules organized to ensure student confidence.

Last year, hundreds of students were left stranded in Scarborough when buses arrived several hours late.

Bingley said ISIC card sales have also been substantial this year, after being unavailable for much of last year.

“We got a new printer at the end of last year, and had that going the entire year,” she said.

The new sports charter system has also been popular, she said.

It brought in almost $20,000 more than expected.

QEA

Media and volunteer director Dan Jacob said he thinks Queen’s Entertainment Agency (QEA) has had a good performance this year despite being currently projected to lose $24,117 this year. The service aims to break even on concerts, but has high operating costs which cut into the budget, he said.

The service currently has a smaller deficit than projected for this time of the year, but Black said the service will likely end the year as expected financially due to tonight’s Ben Fold’s concert.

In order to make tickets affordable for students, Black said, QEA had to accept that it would lose money on the show.

Jacob said QEA didn’t get as much money from opt-outable student fees as it had budgeted for. The service was “frugal” in its advertising spending, and didn’t sell out as many shows as projected.

“On the whole I think the budgeting process was successful and I think that we’re doing a better job guessing and inferring what students want in terms of entertainment on campus,” he said, adding that moving QEA to operate under Destinations next year will help the service’s finances because operating costs will be minimized.

The Journal

The Journal, budgeted to close the year with a $7,630 surplus, is standing at $47,252. The advertising market continued to be strong, bringing the Journal $33,000 ahead of budget.

The newspaper receives a mandatory student fee of $3.50.

Pamela Beauchamp, Journal business manager, said advertising was stronger than expected for the year.

“We had more national advertising than expected, so a lot more revenue from national ads,” she said, adding that it’s important the Journal receives its student fee because advertising isn’t always as successful.

“If you look at trends from the past 10 years … there have been definite years where [the Journal] has lost money.”

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