The Big Idea: Mobile Ordering

Compass launched a mobile online ordering system to capitalize on popularity of smartphones.

Mike Barner
Senior Vice President of Field Systems
Compass Group North America, Charlotte, N.C.

We found our customers needed a faster and easier way to get their midday meals. With the popularity of smartphones growing, particularly on our corporate and college campuses, we decided to find a way to make ordering food easier and faster. We already had online ordering, but we decided going mobile was the way to go so we created the Zipthru Mobile Ordering system. 

Our IT department partnered with a third party to build the application. It was developed as a web application so it can run on any smartphone platform. Once registered, online customers can use the system from any web-enabled device at any time without having to download any applications. For the initial uses of the system we are focusing on specific Compass brands. One example we were focusing on is our BYOB burger concept. The customer is taken to an initial screen where they can choose to order from a particular concept. For the BYOB concept, they are then taken to subsequent screens that build their burger step by step, using radio buttons to make their selections. After they complete the initial order we do some upselling on any sides they may want with their burger. We also ask for a time for pick up to help us with production. The screens were designed to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible because often you only have one or two chances to satisfy customer expectations with technology like this.

When the team debuted BYOB at Quinnipiac University we provided many incentives for customers to use the system, including an opportunity to win an iTouch. We continue to promote Zipthru to customers with contests, on the location’s website or through unit marketing. We’ve also used QR codes as a way to provide a link for the system to customers.

Since launching in August more than 260 customers have registered. Almost 60% of the orders coming in from Zipthru are from repeat customers. A customer survey found that more than 90% of users are satisfied with the navigation and design. We’re seeing the greatest areas of growth in B&I, healthcare and, colleges and universities. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
tray number

We created lucky tray days to help create an experience surrounding our brand. The trays are numbered; we pick a number and the winner receives a free lunch. We’ve enlisted the help of one of our coaches, who calls out the random lucky winner, and it drums up a lot of excitement.

Menu Development
recipe revamp chicken soup

As a continuous care retirement community, The Garlands of Barrington in Illinois provides daily foodservice to 270 independent living and skilled nursing care residents, with the majority of sodium restrictions coming from the latter, says Executive Chef Nicola Torres. Instead of cooking two versions of chicken noodle soup—a favorite offered at least twice a week—he reworked his recipe into a flavorful lower-sodium version that appeals to all. “Everybody eats soup, so I created a homemade stock that uses no salt at all, ramping up the flavor with fresh herbs and plenty of vegetables,...

Ideas and Innovation
bus advertising jagermeister

Because many locals use the bus system, we paid for some full bus wraps to advertise [job openings within] our dining services program. The buses go all over campus where students can see them, and to apartments where the public can see them. To top it off, the cost wasn’t much more than newspaper rates.

Managing Your Business
line kings girl goat open kitchen

Open kitchen concepts satisfy guests’ curiosity and desire for transparency. But there are some caveats. Here’s how to create a positive experience for both staff and customers when the walls are down.

Train to serve

With the back-of-house up front, everybody gets hospitality training. “Our cooks understand the food and what they’re doing incredibly, but translating that to guests requires [soft] skills that need to be honed,” says Marie Petulla, co-owner of two restaurants in Southern California.

Dress for a mess

At Girl & The Goat in Chicago, chef-owner Stephanie...

FSD Resources