Locate Guests Easily in a Restaurant

How to Locate Guests Easily for Food Delivery

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One of the most frustrating things can be visiting a fast-casual restaurant. I have visited many over the years. It can be interesting to watch the antics of servers wandering around trying to deliver food, looking for table tents or even spoons with a number on that was given to you when you ordered food. It could be mind boggling to try and figure out just how many business hours are lost every day at restaurants here in the UK exactly because the server can't find the customers table. And it can get worse... much worse. I recently watched a member of staff spend six or seven minutes in a crowded restaurant wandering around aimlessly and then returning the food back to the kitchen (now likely cold) probably for disposal. Sure, the customer was there... eventually I watched him stand up, walk over to the counter and demand his money back. Disgruntled, he and his family then left, likely to never return, but also just as likely to tell up to 50 of his friends never to go to that particular restaurant.

 

Of course, the restaurant would eventually find out about that incident and all of the others that followed during each and every busy day. It will show up of course on the bottom line, from the reduction of customers returning and from the wasted food that was destined to the waste bins every day.

 

There has to be a better way?

Technology is moving on at a breath-taking speed. The problem of being unable to find the table to deliver food has been addressed an in ways that just five years ago was unheard of. There is now a solution that can guide servers directly to the exact table that the customer is sitting at. And what's more, even if the customer chose a table and later moved, the system will 'follow the customer' to whichever table they choose.

 

One solution

A recent (but tried and tested) solution is called Table Tracker. This system, unlike nearly all other competitive solutions out there can identify the exact table that the customer is seated at. Many other solutions use a 'zone' type of identification, where the system only takes the server to a given area, but not so with table tracker.

The technology used revolves around RFID technology, not dissimilar to tags used to deter theft of items from shops. But in the case of table tracker the tags are actually under the table and the tracker unit is similar to the pillars at the exits. The tracker device itself is actually around 10cm x 10cm approximately and is well suited to the restaurant environment.

As well as identifying the table where the customer is located there is much more to the tracker system than that. For example, the tracker device can be sent a 'page' to notify customers about something. And the solution collects important data that can later be analysed that can produce extremely useful information and metrics for management.

While table tracker today is extremely impressive and is the leader in sales of these types of solutions here in the UK, there is much more to come from these types of solutions. Often in larger organisations, tracking where customers go by using Geofence technology (with mobile phones) is getting commonplace with the obvious benefits to business. But there is currently an amalgamation of that sort of technology along with other new advances that could make a tracker system move to the next level.

 

The meaning of data

Managing a restaurant without the correct tools to do the job is like steering a ship in fog. I have often asked managers and higher management in large company’s questions like 'how long is your average delivery time?' or 'what is the least used table in the restaurant?' and rarely will I get anything except a blank look in response. But it's pretty obvious that data can show trends, efficiencies, problems and much more including those critical metrics that could drive a restaurant to being extremely efficient and giving great customer experience, which of course will bring them back time and time again.

Table tracker collects data for later analysis either through an online portal, or from data that can be downloaded for further analysis in applications like Excel from Microsoft. Customers have regularly confirmed that the data is actually the primary advantage of the solution and while the delivery of food is important, that often is secondary compared to the data and what it shows.

There really is no other way of achieving what this tracker system does. It's THAT good!

 

It all sounds expensive? and is it worth the effort?

In these days of high costs and sometimes diminishing returns the thought of expenditure might put some restaurants off. After all, isn't the idea that the restaurant makes money? well yes of course!

The Table tracker solution comes in two versions - either the 'Basic' version or the 'Pro' version. Here's the difference:

Tracker basic: This version can be supplied either in a 'self-install' kit (easy to install) that includes 1.7mm 'plaques' that fit on to each table, or with an installation by the company that invented the tracker solution. Recommended for up to 40 table restaurants.

Tracker pro: The pro version comes with a complete under table tag solution which has to be installed by an authorised installer. The complete tag solution costs more and also carry the cost of that installation. recommended for 40 table restaurants or larger.

Each solution has its merits, the results will be the same though, so it all comes down to the size of your restaurant and whether under table tags are better suited to your restaurant. To date, under table tags have been used in over 80% of restaurants but all of that is about to change with the introduction of the basic system and self-install for smaller restaurants. And pricing starts from just £2995.00 plus VAT for a complete solution.

All of the above systems have reporting available but remember that you need an internet connection for those benefits.

 

Conclusion

Since the launch of the tracker solution in over four years there has never been a customer that has thought the system not worth the money, or has stopped using it. That is a testimony of just how incredibly beneficial the solution is to the restaurant business. There is no doubt that the reporting will show any operator exactly what is going on in their business, delivery times, flow, unused tables, efficiency comparisons and other metrics that would be impossible to obtain any other way. In short this is a 'must have' system if you need to take control of your restaurant and manage it based on facts rather than assumption.

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