In some restaurants, long wait times are considered a sign of status. But in today’s busy world, most customers don’t like to wait. To prevent long wait times in your restaurant, try these five proven techniques.
1. Eliminate bottlenecks
Study all your processes – from the reception/hostess area to the kitchen and dining room floor – to identify and resolve any constraints that contribute to longer wait times. For example, are bussers overloaded with other responsibilities that prevent them from clearing and setting up tables in a timely manner? Are wait staff using digital devices to take orders and process payment or is the process still manual?
2. Optimize staffing
In restaurants, it’s better to be over-staffed than under-staffed, especially during busy lunch and dinner shifts. However, over-staffing can lead to excessive labor costs that reduce profits. Using an automated time and attendance system can ensure sufficient staffing by providing the data required to optimize employee scheduling without paying for more staff time than you need. A good online schedule maker can help significantly in the long run.
3. Use a wait management system
This convenient and cost-effective software tool reduces wait times by automating the seating process. Designed to work on personal computers and mobile devices, wait management systems can handle everything from quoting wait times to texting/paging waiting guests and increasing table turns by communicating with wait staff.
4. Train, train and train some more
A well-trained restaurant crew is a more efficient crew. To reduce wait times, constantly train staff in procedures, processes, hospitality, and improving efficiency. In particular, look for ways to speed up to-go orders and business-lunch service as these customers are most sensitive to long wait times.
5. Change the customer’s perspective
Often, long wait times are a matter of perception. When customers are stuck sitting in the reception area with nothing to do, a 10-minute wait can seem like an hour. Providing your guests with restaurant pagers allows them to sit at the bar or wander around without fear of missing their name being called. Pagers are especially useful for restaurants located in malls or others areas with other shops or attractions nearby.
Every restaurant manager wants a full house on a consistent basis. However, causing guests to wait too long can drive away business and impact your restaurant’s reputation. With the right training and today’s sophisticated table management and time and attendance software programs, keeping customer wait times to a minimum is easier than ever.