How can we order lunch?
April 25, 2007 11:55 AM   Subscribe

My company (75 people) orders lunch from the same place every day. The receptionist sends out an email to everyone in the morning, and people respond with what they want for lunch. She then takes all of these food requests and calls them in to the sandwich shop. At the end of the day, she then has to tally up how much everyone spent. It then comes off of your paycheck. How can we make this easier? It takes a considerable amount of the receptionists time!

The other difficulty is that there are specials every day that are faxed to us.

One idea would be to have some sort of web-based cart system where people order their lunch. A report could be generated from this every day that would just be faxed to the sandwich shop.

Anyone ever come up with a solution for a problem like this? It seems like it might be pretty common.
posted by gregvr to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
web-based cart seems like the most logical solution to me. you just need to set it up with their menu, with an area for adding specials on a daily basis.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:58 AM on April 25, 2007

A former co-worker of mine used to work at Seamlessweb, which specializes in this, although I haven't used their services so I can't testify to how well it works.
posted by phoenixy at 11:59 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Where I work we have maybe 50-60 people distributed over 3 floors. Each floor has an order form for sandwiches* that is filled in on Thursday or Friday for the following week, with one person on each floor being responsible for ensuring everyone fills in their order and passing on the form to the receptionist. The receptionist then uses the forms to order lunch each day.

We collect money ahead of time too, but every order costs the same amount so it's pretty simple. If your orders come out of paychecks then you don't have to worry about this, and you can deduct a week's worth of lunches in one go, cutting the time spent doing that.

As for specials, if people want them they can go and get it themselves.

*the form is basically a set menu listing types of bread and possible fillings.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:19 PM on April 25, 2007

What about working with the shop to have them come up with a fixed menu and fixed prices? That way you eliminate the questions about the special every day, it's easier for the shop and if it's a flat rate it's easier to bill.

And if someone bitches about the lack of black olives or that there aren't any specials, tell them they're more than welcome to bring their own damn lunch.
posted by Atom12 at 12:31 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe a google docs spreadsheet that everyone just plugs into, then she culls data from each day after the orders placed to add to a master list?
posted by lannanh at 1:37 PM on April 25, 2007

If I owned a restaurant and the same office ordered 75 lunches every day, I'd certainly be willing to set up a custom online ordering portal just for that office. Definitely, approach the restaurant, and while you're at it, ask for "frequent eater" pricing.
posted by jbickers at 1:38 PM on April 25, 2007

Build a web-based 'shop' that allows your secretary to print out the office's orders and fax it over, as well as generating weekly summaries of money spent per person.

Let the secretary add the 'special' to the database daily, which won't take too much time.
posted by fogster at 2:26 PM on April 25, 2007

How web savy are the employees? Do you have at least one person who could set up a wiki?

I recently set up a wiki using this software. And added a form page using this plug-in. So members of my organization (who aren't all super web savy) can go there and add their information to a list we're making. The list is rendered by the software as a simple HTML table which can be copied and pasted into Excel.

I could see the exact system I set up working nicely for ordering lunch every day.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 3:07 PM on April 25, 2007

Maybe the web service could help a bit. Or maybe not, I dunno.
posted by 31d1 at 3:08 PM on April 25, 2007

jbickers is 100% correct. This deli is getting 75 orders daily from the same office. lets just assume that the average lunch costs $7. $525/day $2625/week $10,500/month $126,000/yr.

Yeah, I think the deli can go out of their way to help in providing a reasonable solution.
posted by wile e at 3:37 PM on April 25, 2007

People can indeed handle their own lunch just fine. But from the restaurant's perspective, taking one large organized order at once is easier than dealing with 75 misc calls and deliveries, not to mention answering the same set of questions 75 times over. Getting the order in the morning also gives them time to do the food prep before lunchtime rush hits. jbickers is right. The restaurant has a sweet deal. They're getting convenience, efficiency, economies of scale, and a practically guaranteed stream of business. While effectively offloading their customer service costs to your company. Make them solve their own problem, or shop around for a deli that will. Many would be thrilled for the opportunity.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:19 PM on April 25, 2007

I know this isn't exactly what you're looking for, but you could pitch to management the idea of free lunch.

I do it, I know lots of other companies that do it. It encourages employees to stay at the office (higher productivity!) but it's also a way of compensating your employees without letting the government get a cut.

After all, it makes more sense to just spend $2,000 directly on food than to give your employee $3,000, let the government take $1k, and then have the remaining $2k spent on food.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 5:09 PM on April 25, 2007

How about a spreadsheet in a drive everyone can access? The list will be filled in by the employees, meaning the receptionist just has to grab it and go. Plus, she can then sort by name and use the spreadsheet to calculate each person's weekly debt.
posted by Lucie at 7:23 PM on April 25, 2007

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