Star Micronics Partners with Flash Order to Transform the Cafeteria Ordering Experience

Cafeterias play an especially important role in hospital and university settings, providing students, patients, and staff members with quick, nutritious meals to keep them energized throughout the day in a setting where cooking your own food is not a viable option.

Contra Costa College in San Pablo, CA has a student population of about 6,000, and it is not uncommon for its campus cafeteria to serve up to 10% of the student population at once during busy hours. Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center in Vacaville, CA has a population that sits at around a hefty 15,000 and its cafeteria serves a large number of patients, staff members, and guests daily.

Flash Order provides a digital self-order platform for hospitality environments, with a special focus on cafeterias like those in Contra Costa College and Vacaville Medical Center. As a self-order kiosk app, Flash Order makes it easy for cafeterias to provide a fast customer experience and a streamlined, accurate ordering process.

The Challenge

Recently, cafeterias have been under mounting pressure to save on operating expenses due to the rising costs of labor and food. They are also faced with rising consumer demand and increased competition, making it imperative to deliver fast service and positive customer experiences.

In the past, cafeterias relied on written paper tickets to fulfill orders, however, this came at a cost. Handwritten orders can be difficult to read, and it is easy for front-of-house staff to miss modifiers, sides, and other items as they are given when it takes longer to write the order than it takes for a customer to dictate it.

These handwritten ordering processes resulted in too many errors.

For cafeterias, this can lead to major losses in profits from food waste when orders need to be re-made, as well as decreased consumer trust and a poor customer experience. Order errors not only delay the customer that placed the order, but all the customers in line behind them. In a hospital or university setting, cafeterias serve hundreds of customers in a short time frame, so order errors are a major issue.

The SolutionmC-Print3

Cafeterias require a technology upgrade to handle the new challenges facing the industry today, and Flash Order answered the call. They developed a self-order kiosk app that can streamline the ordering process and reduce order errors. Many cafeterias have implemented the kiosk app and seen improvements in the ordering process.

Recently, Flash Order partnered with Star Micronics, which provided a robust lineup of printing options suitable for any cafeteria or self-ordering environment to reduce order errors and combat environmental challenges that make it difficult to rely on digital tickets.

The collaboration between Flash Order and Star Micronics provided self-order kiosks and integrated printers for both Contra Costa College and Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center.

The solution is designed to be a “plug-and-play” solution to reduce downtime during installation. With Flash Order, customers can simply download the app, log in with their Square credentials, and build their menus with Flash Order’s proprietary menu editor.

The entire installation took less than two weeks to go live at the college. Training was made simple by the intuitive and user-friendly app interface on the Flash Order app.

The Results

The Star Micronics mC-Print3 printers with CloudPRNT have replaced handwritten tickets with printed tickets, which are far more reliable and easier to read. Every item the customer selects is added to the ticket with 100% accuracy, so kitchen staff is always aware of modifiers, sides, and preparation instructions that customers request on the kiosk.

The self-order kiosk has significantly reduced average customer wait time. Now, more customers can place orders at a single time, and no time is wasted handwriting customer orders on paper tickets. Sales totals are automatically calculated by the kiosk as customers enter, so front-of-house staff can process transactions much quicker.

Because of this, labor costs can be reduced as labor can be redistributed to order prep stations, helping fulfill orders even faster. However, in some locations, the need for labor increased due to the higher number of orders being placed in a shorter time frame.

The Flash Order kiosk also assists with upselling and cross-selling, increasing average ticket size, and giving customers a better view of all available menu offerings. Cafeteria operators and managers have the ability to change menu information across all locations simultaneously and remotely with the app, which helps to streamline menu management.

Overall, the Flash Order solution has increased total sales by about 16%-20% on average, with the medical center’s cafeteria in particular having seen an increase in sales by about $4,000 to $5,000 worth of orders per day.

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