There’s a certain showmanship to Hatco’s FLAV-R 2-GO locker systems. It’s not only novel but somehow exciting to pop into your local pizza joint, scan a code, and have the door to a delicious, hot meal swing open – all without ever having to interact with a staff member or wait in line.
While Hatco offers non-connected versions of the food pickup lockers, the connected models offer greater convenience to operators as well as customers – especially in the age of COVID-19. The first prototypes went out for testing in fall 2019, and Hatco fully brought the system to market in early 2020 just as lockdowns were starting across the country and operators were scrambling for ways to offer diners no-contact service. With three different models – countertop, built-in, and floor mounted systems – all offering touchless capabilities and a heated option that can hold food orders at up to 180 degrees for 45 minutes, the FLAV-R 2-GO lockers were an ideal solution offered at just the right time.
The locker system comes in three levels of connectivity based on an operator’s needs. The most basic version has no connectivity or automation; operators must manually input order information into their app, and the customer keys in a code that pops open a designated locker containing their package. The intermediate version offers a QR code scanner, which allows employees to scan in the order before inserting food into the locker; customers to do the same when they arrive for pickup. The most advanced FLAV-R 2-GO version employs cloud technology that can communicate with the restaurant’s existing POS system to automate the entire process, including the holding temperature. This has the added benefit of creating analytics data that operators can use to identify their busiest periods for hot meal pickup, so that they can adjust the number of heated lockers accordingly.
Since releasing the lockers last year, Hatco has seen interest grow from small chains and grab-and-go locations to a much wider contingent of operators that are retooling their business models to accommodate local guidelines and customer expectations. “The need for them is kind of everywhere,” says Ryan Catarozoli, key accounts sales manager. “The possibilities are becoming endless with the ideas of these lockers and less contact.”
What Salespeople Need to Know
The philosophy behind the FLAV-R 2-GO lockers is to fit whatever the operator needs. The systems can be customized to each individual brand with software updates via a USB drive that can change colors on the door lights or adjust how long a locker stays open. The lockers themselves are modular, so their dimensions can change, or more lockers can be added as needed. They all run off a 120V plug, allowing them to be placed near any standard outlet.
There is a price to connectivity: The cloud-based system carries a monthly fee, although Catarozoli says the cost is only a few dollars per month for each locker. Fortunately, operators are not locked into whatever level of connectivity they select when purchasing the system. If they opt for a manual model up front, for instance, they can add in connectivity features down the road without needing to replace the entire locker system.
For salespeople that are working with customers to identify the right system, Catarozoli recommends they ask detailed questions about the operation. For example, if they want to offer drinks with the orders, will an employee or customer pour the drinks? If it’s an employee, they won’t want to place a cold drink in a heated locker, so how will they ensure the drink is picked up with the rest of the order? Another key question to consider is what kind of packaging the operator will use and whether it will hold up in a 180-degree cabinet, or if a packaging change will be needed.
“Everybody loves the idea, but you need to think about your operation and how you’re going to use it,” Catarozoli says.