Clarion Group Announces New Efforts in Food Service Consulting Technologies

July 7, 2014


“Customer-facing technology is opening new opportunities for corporate food service operators,” says Tom Mac Dermott, president of Clarion Group, a food service consulting firm.  “As companies evolve and the ways people work changes, operators have to adapt to provide meals and services to meet new needs and preferences.”

“In many companies, people work in collaborative teams in open offices with highly flexible hours,” Mac Dermott says.  “They aren’t necessarily looking for lunch at noontime and when they are, they often don’t want to take the time to go through the conventional corporate food service’s serving line.”

A solution finding its way into some companies, especially high-tech and financial firms, is remote ordering systems.

“Employees or team who don’t want to interrupt their work – or at least minimize the interruption – can order and pay for their food directly from their work site, then go to the café to pick it up at a designated time,” he says.  “In some cases, the meal can be delivered to the employee directly, eliminating the need to stop working at all.”

An innovation already popular with restaurants and more recently finding its way onto college campuses, is mobile ordering and payment apps, according to Mac Dermott.  If installed in a corporate food service, the employee/customer wouldn’t even have to be at his or her computer to order food.

“Some apps are proactive.  They’ll remind an employee that, for example, yesterday they ordered a snack at 10:30 a.m. or 3:00 p.m.” he says.  “If the employee clicks ‘yes,’ the food will be waiting, and paid for, at a pickup station in the café.”

In companies with smaller offices, 500 employees or fewer, the attendant-free “micro-market” has created a new option where all-vending machine service is inadequate and a full-service employee café is impractical.

“The micro-market is set up like a small convenience store, but there’s no cashier, Mac Dermott explains.  “Instead, there’s a self-serve payment kiosk, like those in Home Depot and some supermarkets, where the customer self-checks out, using a credit or debit card or cash.  A security camera monitors the space, discouraging theft.”

The micro-market can be of value in companies where employees work nights and weekends, when corporate food service facility is closed.

“Overall, non-cash payment systems are increasing in corporate food service operations,” Mac Dermott notes.  “Among Clarion clients, more than half, and up to two-thirds, of all transactions are through debit or credit cards.  This conversion from cash has been growing, with no special encouragement on the part of operators, over the past five years.”

For the operator, the advantages include less cash handling, meaning reduced opportunities for theft and fewer errors, Mac Dermott says.  The disadvantage is the high cost of bank processing fees, which can be as much as five percent of card sales because the large number of small transactions is more expensive for card issuers to process.

“An effective solution is a company-issued debit card system that uses the employee’s identification card,” he advises.  “The employee can add value to his or her card from a personal credit card or the company may permit employees to pay by means of payroll deduction.  If the card system is mandatory, the need for cash and cash handling, with all its time-consuming and expensive counting and banking tasks is eliminated.”


About Clarion Group

Clarion Group is an consulting firm that advises companies, professional firms, colleges and universities, independent schools and institutions in the management, operation and improvement of  their in-house employee/student food services, catering, conference, lodging and related hospitality services throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, contact:
Tom Mac Dermott, FCSI, President
Clarion Group
PO Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158
603/642-8011 or

Talk to us about your vision for your food service operation — Contact Clarion Group

Food Service Consultants
P.O. Box 158,
Kingston, NH 03848-0158

Phone: (603) 642-8011   
Fax: (603) 642-7744

Offering food service management consulting, hospitality services consulting, sustainable dining facility design. Nationwide food service consultants.

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