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On the Menu: RFID

Casual, fast-casual and quick-serve restaurants adopt wireless technologies to enhance the customer experience, ensure food safety and improve operations.
By Jennifer Zaino
Aug 30, 2016

Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes, a chain of four fast-casual restaurants in Austin, takes pride in its Texas hospit­ality, so parent company K&N Management was looking for a way to replace its practice of calling out customers' names when their orders were ready. Guests were afraid they wouldn't hear their name, explains Gini Quiroz, K&N's director of team member engagement, so instead of waiting comfortably in the dining room or on the patio, they milled around the counter, further congesting a high-traffic area.

"We want people to enjoy every single touchpoint, and the after-order/before-pickup touchpoint was causing angst and frustration," Quiroz says. "We really like cutting-edge technology, and we thought Table Tracker could be a good solution for guest satisfaction."

Long Range Systems' Table Tracker solution helps eateries like Mighty Fine "cut time out of their day, turn tables faster and create a better experience," says Michelle Strong, LRS's chief marketing officer. A high-frequency RFID tag with a unique ID number is attached to the underside of each table. When customers place an order, they receive a Table Tracker device, which has a built-in RFID reader and a ZigBee device for transmitting the tag ID number and its own identifier to the local Table Tracker software. The software alerts restaurant employees to order status and customer location. (Restaurants can also integrate the software with their point-of-sale and kitchen display systems to create one seamless system.)

The solution's ability to get employees quickly and directly to the customer's table is a key strength, Strong says. A table tent or zonal-location system "that only gets you halfway there could cause confusion," she says. Speedy delivery keeps patrons happy and results in faster customer turnover, which, she adds, is a revenue plus.

In 2012, K&N tried Table Tracker at one Mighty Fine location and a few months later rolled it out to the three other restaurants in the chain. The solution shaved roughly a minute off guest wait time for food and hospitality scores increased. Patrons can enjoy the music without worrying that they'll miss their order. "As soon as food is ready we bring it out," Quiroz says, "and that means food quality is also better." Fries, for example, diminish in quality the longer they sit, so speed is essential, she explains.

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