RFID Tracking System Speeds Table Turns and Improves Guest Experience for Jason's Deli

| October 31, 2013

Jason’s Deli was founded in 1976 and from the beginning had a commitment to delivering fresh food and premium, more natural ingredients. Jason’s Deli was the first major restaurant concept to ban artificial transfats in the U.S. and also the first to eliminate high fructose corn syrup. What they kept were exciting flavors, true freshness and real taste so everyone gets nutrient filled goodness for a great price. Customers have choices, including a gluten-free menu, vegetarian sandwiches, healthy kids’ meals or they can invent a sandwich via their “build your own” selections.

When it came to seating tables, the veteran fast casual concept had a system that worked for the last 20 years — they handed the customer a plastic ticket that’s placed in a holder on the table. The food runners would have to search for the table when the order was ready. With guest experience being a top priority, when new technology was developed that could impact the guest experience, Jason’s Deli was eager to try it.   

“We’re somewhat old school, but to have a system that helps us measure ticket times, deliver food faster and improve the customer experience was something we had to implement,” said Michael Johnson, Regional Manager.

Time to table savings
Table Tracker is an RFID system developed by LRS that speeds up food delivery. After observing Table Tracker in action at a competitor’s store, Jason’s Deli purchased systems for some of its stores. “We saw immediate improvement in ticket times,” said Johnson. “We shaved a full minute off ticket times just by having the ability to prioritize orders and deliver food faster. Runners find customers more quickly and get back to the next delivery faster just because we use Table Tracker.”

When a guest places the Table Tracker device on the table, it sends that table’s exact number to the kitchen display via RFID tags installed under the table. The RFID tags don’t take up space on the table and aren’t even visible to guests, so Jason’s Deli could retire those plastic tickets and holders on the table. Jason’s Deli has a standalone system containing three components: a touch-screen PC monitor, Table Tracker devices and a map of the restaurant to help food runners remember table numbers.
 
With Table Tracker, orders that are delayed are highlighted yellow, then after a pre-programmed time, they turn red. The display screen being visible to everyone in the kitchen solved several issues at Jason’s Deli. “When an order is delayed, everybody knows it. Table Tracker gave us the ability to address an order delay with the customer before they get frustrated. We even know exactly when the customer sits down at the table, so we can prioritize food delivery,” Johnson notes. “And food runners are definitely more efficient, so delivery is even faster.”

Guest-facing benefits
Once Table Tracker was installed, measuring important service steps like ticket times was a snap. Prior to using Table Tracker, there was no benchmark for the order-to-guest process. “There are systems out there that measure production times, but Table Tracker helps you measure the guest experience from order to delivery. That’s huge. We have ticket time tracking and data to see how we improve over time with this system,” said Johnson.

Guests also find the system easy to use. Jason’s Deli had used LRS guest paging systems for years, and Table Tracker had a similar process. “We just hand the customers a Table Tracker device instead of a plastic ticket,” said Johnson. “All they have to do is put it on their table.”

With Table Tracker, order status is available in real time, which is essential to measuring performance. Table Tracker collects turn-time data and number of times a manager is paged when an order turns red, and that information can be viewed online. Both the in-store managers and stakeholders in the corporate office can use that information to identify trends and make improvements.

Jason’s Deli saw immediate improvements in operations, staff efficiency, food delivery, and customer satisfaction. “We’re putting together an internal Table Tracker team to really exploit the power of the system,” said Johnson. “This team is defining the steps we want to measure and goals we want to hit company wide. Jason’s Deli has hundreds of stores nationwide. Several of them can benefit from using this system.”

Jason’s Deli is careful to invest in technology that pays for itself quickly, and Table Tracker was no exception. “Table Tracker had fast ROI,” said Johnson. “Reduced ticket times, streamlined guest experience and simple installation all positively impacted our bottom line. The system makes it easy to benchmark where we are and where we need to improve, so implementing the system was a smart decision for our concept.”

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