On Tuesday, we shared our Table Location PDF, which is available for download. The chart weighs the pros and cons of three methods restaurants use to deliver food to the correct table.
Table tents – Table tents are cheap and easy to implement. Customers are familiar with the routine: Grab a number, place it on your table, and wait. The table tent is ultimately a “hunting” system. It relies on the ability of the server to quickly spot the number.
Zonal location – Zonal technology allows the food runner to know the guest’s approximate location, but lacks pinpoint accuracy. Food runners know what area to deliver food to, but not the specific table. Zonal technology divides the area into a grid system. It’s a “proximity” system. The active RFID technology gets a food runner to a section only.
Precision tracking – With LRS’ Table Tracker, food runners know the exact location of the customer. Food is delivered on time, without confusion or frustration. If speed of service is the primary goal, Table Tracker is ideal. Table Tracker is a “precise” system using a passive RFID tag and an active RFID reader to give the food runner the exact table.
Precision tracking is clearly the fastest, most accurate table location system available. But why does it matter? Why not save some money and use a table tent system? Why not settle for zonal technology that offers the approximate location? The dining experience has evolved – where tables are closer together, guests are continually distracted and expectations for timely delivery are high. In such instances, precision tracking is essential.
Space is money
For obvious reasons, restaurants place a premium on space. The more guests they can put at tables, the more tables they can squeeze into a dining area, and the more guests they can rotate in and out – the more revenue they bring in. Most restaurants will try to get as many tables as possible into an area without making it uncomfortably crowded or violating fire code. Zonal technology just doesn’t work because there are too many guests in a given area. The server will ultimately stand in the middle and start shouting: “Who had the chicken alfredo with fettuccine? Chicken alfredo with fettuccine, anyone? Anyone?”
Dealing with the distracted diner
An article in the Daily Mail explains that cell phone use has slowed down the entire dining process. “Following their research, the poster found that the average time that a customer spent in the restaurant from start to finish in 2004 was 1 hour and 5 minutes, while in 2014 the average time was 1 hour and 55 minutes,” according to journalist David McCormack. “The restaurant decided to compare the footage in a bid to discover why service is significantly slower compared with ten years ago despite adding staff and cutting back on menu items. After comparing the videos, they found that cell phones have become a large distraction for customers which are preventing them from ordering as efficiently as they once did.”
Not only that, but distracted diners are less likely to hear the poor server who can’t find the table tent hiding behind a napkin dispenser, calling out the order.
Time matters, because every minute lost is another minute where the food is getting cold, fighting a losing battle against the restaurant’s air conditioning. Every minute lost is another minute where the guest is getting impatient, wondering where his food is. The dining experience has evolved, and expectations are high. But with the right technology, restaurants can deliver food in the most efficient way possible, saving money and reducing the stress of that server looking for the customer who ordered chicken alfredo with fettuccine.
There are different methods restaurants are using to deliver food to guests. Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages download a copy of the Table Location PDF.
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Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.