For most students at most universities, visiting the dining hall is part of the daily routine. And accessing dining services follows a fairly standard formula across the board: walk in the door, wait in line, swipe or tap your ID card at the POS, and walk in.
That’s not the case at Fremont, Nebraska’s Midland University, though, where campus administrators and food-service partner Fresh Ideas decided on a different dining hall experience. Midland deployed Lucova’s FIIT POE registers, used within the new SaaS platform solution, in the fall of 2016 and launched the accompanying mobile app at the beginning of spring 2017 semester, and the results have been seismic for the small university.
“Two years ago Midland was in need a dining service revamp,” says Jodi Benjamin, CFO of Midland University. “We had been with the same company for nearly 40 years and there was a lot of complacency, and also student demands had changed.”
The answer for Midland was a partnership with Colombia, Missouri based food-service provider, Fresh Ideas. It was Fresh Ideas, in turn, who proposed the FIIT POE register and Midland hasn’t looked back since.
A cloud-based solution, the FIIT POE (Point-of-Experience) system is a smart register that leverages communication between the mobile app on a student smartphone and the POS register itself. This communication over Bluetooth enables students to conduct a hands free check-in at the dining hall POS register without the need of a traditional card.
We wanted our dining hall to feel like an extension of home because our students enter the dining facility upwards of three times per day over nine months.
In addition to supporting traditional POS utilities, the FIIT POE platform also features a built-in messenger service to add a personal touch, the ability to adjust mobile menus, as well as analyze orders and available resources. The system integrates with existing payment processors and points of sale, and is available through a monthly pricing structure with no transaction-based costs.
The system also promises the ability to provide a fast and easy way for students to pre-order food, digitize meal cards, check account balances and freely choose between meal plan, card and cash transactions.
Midland has deployed two FIIT POE registers – one at its campus dining hall and another at its on-campus Warrior Grille location.
New population, new needs
The change in dining service at Midland was, in part, spurred by a paradigm shift in its student population. At the university’s flagship, Fremont campus, enrollment has grown from just under 600 students in the spring of 2009 to now 1,200 students today. That growth is largely driven by a rebirth of extracurriculars – specifically athletics. In fact, some 800 of the 1,200 total enrollees are student athletes.
“We went with Fresh Ideas primarily for their desire to create a program that met our students at their needs, rather than pick a plan from a binder of pre-packaged options,” explains Benjamin. “We also wanted our dining hall to feel like an extension of home, because our students enter the dining facility upwards of three times per day over nine months.”