Choosing the Right Device for Your Food Safety System

When choosing the perfect digital checklist or digital food safety system, it’s important to know your options when it comes to the device you’ll use. You generally have two options: to buy your own device and independently download the food safety program onto it, or choose a company that offers ready-to-go, managed devices.

While most food safety systems allow you to bring your own device, you should evaluate the pros and cons of each option, especially if you plan to use the system in multiple locations.

So, how can you tell which option will work best for you? Here are some of the major points to take into consideration, so you can make an informed decision.

1. Cost

Although at first, it would seem like buying your own device might be cheaper than buying it directly from the food safety company, in reality, you’ll save more money when you choose the latter.

Tablets can cost anywhere from $300-500 each, and if you’re buying one for each of your restaurants, those costs add up quickly. On the other hand, when you choose a managed device, the cost of the tablet is often included in the setup and onboarding fee. Right off the bat, this means you’re getting more value in the upfront cost of a managed device. That one-time fee generally includes a professional and custom setup, which means you won’t have to DIY anything.

Benefit: managed

2. Setup for multi-unit restaurants

It’s safe to assume that most restaurant owners don’t have the time to sit and figure out how to download and configure a new system, especially when more than one location needs to be setup. When you choose a managed device, the system comes ready to use right out of the box, already set up by a professional team that understands your store’s specifications and has customized the software to work specifically for you. So it doesn’t matter if you’re ordering devices for 1 store or 100 stores – there’s still not much effort on your end to get it all set up.

On the other hand, when you buy your own device, you need to set aside time and resources to ensure you’ve set up correctly. And if you need to purchase devices for multiple locations, you’ll need to repeat the setup process for each. Once you’ve completed the setup process, you’ll need even more time to figure out how to customize the system for your needs, which can lead to frustration and even worse, undetected mistakes that cause problems down the line.

Benefit: managed

3. Troubleshooting

As with every type of technology, and regardless of whether you’ll use a device of your own or a managed device, there are bound to be technical hiccups. Especially in the fast-paced environment of a kitchen, you need quick fixes and effective support.

If your device is managed by the food safety company, troubleshooting will be much easier, as the support team has access to your device and is extremely familiar with its setup. When you take setup into your own hands, there may be things you’ve done differently or incorrectly, leading to longer downtimes and confusing conversations with a support team.

Additionally, if a tablet is ever lost or stolen, a managed device can easily be shut down remotely, where your own device is fair game for hacking.

Benefit: managed

4. Changes to checklist items

Your restaurant is constantly changing, from everyday procedures to new equipment and menu items. Using a managed device makes it simple for these changes to your digital checklists and food safety checks to be made in every store at once, increasing the efficiency of each store and saving you time.

Benefit: managed

5. Technical support

When you choose a managed device through a provider, you can be sure you’re getting a device that has all of the technical specifications it needs to be compatible with the provider’s software. When you buy your own device, it’s natural to choose the lowest price point, and therefore you might buy a refurbished or lower capacity tablet, which will lead to compatibility issues down the road.

Something you should also take into account is that tablets can become obsolete very quickly. If you were to buy an older version of a tablet because it was discounted, the software you plan to use may not be supported by its hardware, leaving you with an unusable and expensive tablet.

Benefit: managed

6. Controlled use

It’s inevitable that at some point during the day, employees lose focus and become distracted by their phones and social media notifications. And when you’re a restaurant franchise with multiple locations, keeping track of this is impossible. So, supplying the employees in your store with an unmanaged device is essentially handing them another way to become distracted. They will have easy access to a web browser, any app from the app store, and social media throughout the day with no real limitations.

On the other hand, when you receive a managed device, all of these activities are locked and inaccessible to employees. The device is set up only for the food safety program and restaurant checklists, so you can ensure that’s all its being used for.

Benefit: managed

These are just a few of the differences between using a managed device vs buying your own. While using your own device might be a good option if you’re running a single location restaurant, if you intend to use your food safety system at multiple locations, we recommend using managed devices.

Weigh the pros and cons and be sure to ask the right questions so you’re comfortable you’re making the right decision for your stores and your employees.

Learn more about using digital checklists from our guide, “Digital Checklists: The Ultimate Guide for Restaurants”.

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