For the 2017-2018 school year, eight new locations have become participants in the Bulldog Bucks program.
Off-campus restaurants accepting Bulldog Bucks for the first time include Carl’s Jr., Clark’s Fork, Dutch Bros, Kalico Kitchen, Method Juice Café, Mod Pizza, Papa John’s and Sushi Sakai. This summer, the Zag Shop began accepting Bulldog Bucks as well.
The decision to incorporate these new locations into the Bulldog Bucks program is the result of information from a survey sent to students in the spring of 2017.
“This past spring, we had over 700 students complete the survey,” Director of Card Services Pat Faulkinberry said. “We were very excited because that obviously means that it was important enough for them to take the time to fill out the survey. As a result of that survey, we reached out to the top 10 locations and let them know that our students would like to spend their Bulldog Bucks with them. We provided them with the information and resources to look at what it takes to join the program and then we waited to hear back from them.”
Dutch Bros — the second most requested location — and Sushi Sakai — the sixth most requested location — were formally accepted as p articipating institutions. Card Services reached out to other restaurants like Clark’s Fork, Carl’s Jr. and Kalico Kitchen based on factors like menu options, location and hours after 88 percent of students surveyed identified location as a major influence on where they spend their Bulldog Bucks.
Method Juice Café and Mod Pizza are the first downtown locations to participate in the program.
“We thought that was an interesting shift in businesses wanting to accept Bulldog Bucks, so they’re willing to come on board and we’ll see what kind of traffic they get downtown,” Faulkinberry said.
Currently, the only new locations not fully transitioned into the program are Method Juice Café and Mod Pizza.
“It is my goal to have them all up and running by Friday,” Faulkinberry said. “We only have three that are not currently on-board because it takes a specific internet connection and line of communication to campus to do that. We’re ready on our side, they’re tweaking the internet service on their end, and we all want to get this up and running by move-in day.”
These additions represent a trend of growth in participating locations.
“When the university took over Bulldog Bucks three years ago, we had six off-campus locations,” said Faulkinberry. “By Friday, we’re supposed to have 26. The program has grown significantly and a lot of that growth is based on student feedback. Some of that is because of the change to our meal plan structure where Bulldog Bucks replaced dining dollars. Businesses know that only locations that accept Bulldog Bucks have access to those funds. We’re trying to make it a program that we feel the students will enjoy and have a variety of locations that will be available when it’s an off-time for on-campus dining.”
Two aspects of the program will not change: exclusions and tips. At all participating locations, students may not purchase alcohol or gift cards using Bulldog Bucks. Students are permitted and encouraged to tip on deliveries or exceptional service when dining in.
In terms of future expansion, Faulkinberry wants to find a balance between options and oversaturation.
“We want to make it worth it for the businesses that are participating,” said Faulkinberry. “They have to make an investment in equipment to participate and there are per-transaction fees that they have to pay as well. We also want the students to have a variety. We have heard from businesses that are outside of food, and that is something we would consider when growing the program. Part of the future is outside of dining, outside of food, to be able to have services as well as a variety of locations to eat.”
Emily Klein is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter @itsemily_klein.