The Economics of Meal Plan Administration


Many retirement communities have still not adopted Meal and Spending Plan Management or Point-of-Sale systems for their operation. Given the fact that we live in the age of technology and information, one might think this odd. However, this is not so peculiar once you understand the thinking behind it. The number one largest reason for resistance to adopting such technology is belief that it is cost prohibitive. Following closely behind this is the perception that it is too complicated and time consuming to set up and manage.

Both of these genuine beliefs are in fact great myths that undermine the financial well being, competitiveness and service levels in communities across North America.

Myth #1: Technology is cost prohibitive.

In the last decade, the total cost of ownership for technology has declined dramatically. In mature markets such as Point-of-Sale and Spending Plan management, refinement to both hardware and software as well as declining entry costs have significantly reduced break-even times and raised return on investment to unprecedented levels. With available hardware leasing options and software rental programs such as that offered by CARDWATCH™ (Retail Systems Group), monthly costs of ownership are typically dwarfed by huge gains in administrative labor cost savings and improved allocation of resources such as staffing and menu planning.

Smaller communities who once could not consider such applications due to the high costs of acquisition now find it an affordable and sound investment that not only pays for itself several times over, but also frees up valuable human resources that previously would have been dedicated to manual entry and reconciliation tasks. Indeed, it is not uncommon to discover that a retirement community with 400 residents has several part time employees devoted to this task. Don’t forget, 400 people will eat approximately 36,000 meals each month, all of which must be entered and reconciled!

Myth #2: Technology is too complicated and time consuming to set up and manage.

Once again, one of the greatest advancements in the last decade in the technology arena has been in the area of User Friendliness. Applications are far less complicated to use and often are ready-to-go right out of the box. More advanced programs such as CARDWATCH™ require some set-up expertise typically provided by the vendor, but once installed and configured, are simple and straight forward to administer and use. Setting up new accounts, new cardholders and even more complicated tasks like creating new meal plans requires little training and becomes as routine as sending an email in no time. Food Service managers will find more than 3/4 of their work already done for them with pre-installed menu items, bar codes and menu templates. Once set up, managers can expect to shave hours each week previously dedicated to administration and menu planning. In the course of a year, this can add up to weeks of saved time.


Isn’t it Time to Demystify Your Community?

Call or email us for more information on how CARDWATCH™ will work in your unique community. We promise to make it painless!