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Exciting New Technology Reduces Table Turnover

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March 01, 2003
Restaurant | Innovation
Bill Fitzpatrick - bill_fitzpatrick@spartancomputer.com

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© 2003 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

I sighed. Why me? It had been a miserable day, and now someone from Lodi wanted me to research solutions for wobbling tables? That solution was surely in the main wing of the Hall of Wishful Thinking, placed neatly between The Perfect Mouse Trap and The Cure for Pop-Up Windows. Just to err on the side of caution, I typed in wobbling tables in Google and prepared to be amused and validated. But, what’s this? Was it time to remove the wobbling tables from the Hall of Wishful Thinking? Should I quit my current sales job and go to work for…TABLE SHOX®! I closed the door to my office. This was a potentially life-changing event. Calm down, Bill, what about the product? Is it real?

Whoa! Look at this press release!

NEW YORK, November 9, 2002—The seventh annual Editor’s Choice Awards for Best New Products were presented to five winners, along with the Kenneth F. Hine Award for “Best of Show” during the opening ceremony of the 87th International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show (IH/M&RS) on November 9, 2002, at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

A panel of 11 industry editors reviewed 165 entries and selected winners in five categories: amenities, food and beverage, foodservice equipment and supplies, furnishings and fixtures and technology. The Best of Show was chosen from among the five winners, and presented to TABLE SHOX for their submission in the fixtures and furnishings category for self-adjusting hydraulic glides that eliminate tables from wobbling.

Is this a real company? I went to the company Web site and requested information. Within a day I received a response.

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your e-mail. I’m happy to provide you with whatever information you need. Will you be in the Southern California area? I could find a place where you could see the TABLE SHOX in action, or I could send you a set for yourself. Here is some background that is not available on the site. TABLE SHOX were invented by Ian MacDonald. He was waiting for a plane in a Chicago airport lounge and fell victim to a wobbly table. The drink spilt on his lap right before take off. Embarrassed and frustrated because of the wet pants, he started to pencil the original idea on a napkin during the flight home.

TABLE SHOX are hydraulic devices that are similar to shock absorbers. Each TABLE SHOX automatically adjust to the uneven floor it is placed upon. The cost per set of four is $13.

I would be happy to provide you with any other information or could go into more detail on the phone if you would like. You can either call Ian MacDonald, the owner, directly at (800) 457-6454 or I can contact you. If you reply to this e-mail, you will get an out-of-office as I am currently in Australia establishing distribution, however I will get the message and either call or e-mail you back. They have plenty of wobbly tables here as well.

Best regards,

Evian Macmillan

Double whoa! Cure the wobbles for $13? I had to talk to this Ian MacDonald. I had to get my hands on a set of the self-adjusting hydraulic guides. I had to take them down the street and after receiving permission to remove the sugar packets, install them at Bubba’s Barbeque. No one does anything without permission at Bubba’s Barbeque. I dialed the main number and spoke to Ian the inventor.

“All true,” he said, when I asked him about the spilt drink story. “I sketched out the design on the return flight, but didn’t do anything about it for over a year. I wasn’t in the restaurant business, and, despite what my friend Evian was telling me—he worked for Squirrel for a while—I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Finally, I got the urge to act.

“The reception for this product has been amazing. At the New York Show, representatives from nearly 40 countries expressed strong interest. We were given the Best of Show award from over 2,000 exhibitors. “We are now in the process of setting up distribution for this product. While it can be used as an ‘add-on’ with most standard restaurant tables, table manufacturers are interested in integrating TABLE SHOX into their product at the manufacturing stage. Have you had a chance to review some of the testimonials on our Web site?”

“Very impressive, Ian,” I noted. “My favorite testimonial is about the female café manager that didn’t need a man to install them. That’s a key selling point. But send me your samples and I’ll put it to the real test. We’ll see what Bubba at Bubba’s Barbeque says. He doesn’t much like new products. A POS salesperson once tried to sell Bubba some POS equipment because it ‘would help Bubba report sales to the feds,’ and the demo gear ended up in the French fry vat, though Bubba said he, ‘slipped on some grease on the way to show the gear to his kitchen cousins and how it was all a terrible accident and he was sorry.’”

“Oh,” Ian said, and added, “I’ll send the samples anyway.” Once I received my TABLE SHOX, I drove to Bubba’s and selected a table that was so lopsided it couldn’t hold a fly. Since no man came forward to help me, I did the work myself. I screwed each device into the table leg and presto, a level table. When we moved the table around the floor, the TABLE SHOX did the trick. Bubba, his cousins and the mayor who had come to watch were impressed. I called Ian from the store.

“You passed! And the mayor is sending you the key to the city, which, coincidentally, also opens the backdoor to Bubba’s Barbeque.”

“That’s very nice,” Ian said. “I will be sure and hang the keys next to the Best In Show plaque.”

Bill Fitzpatrick is the senior VP of sales and marketing at Spartan Computer Services and can be reached at (800) 866- 3352 or at bill_fitzpatrick@spartancomputer.com. For information on TABLE SHOX visit www.tableshox.com.

When is this industry-leading magazine going to cover methods to reduce table turnover? All I ever see are articles about increasing table turnover. That’s all very nice in theory, but I’m plagued by table turnover. I’ve tried everything to reduce the wobbles and turns, including sugar packets, folded paper and neatly cut blocks of yellow cheese. All work for awhile; but the sugar packets eventually spill, the paper slips away and the cheese blocks attract rats and bats.

I never knew bats liked cheese, but that’s not the point of my e-mail and Lodi doesn’t have that many bats anyway. In this era of Webenabled this and enterprise that, it’s time this magazine addressed table-turnover and table-wobbling. I know this isn’t a fancy topic, but if you could research this whole matter, and see what’s out there, I’ll bet you’ll please a lot of people including me. Some high-flying CIO might even get points from operations if, for once, they pass along an idea that common folks understand.

E-mail from an Alert Reader in Lodi, Calif.

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