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October 18, 2018

5 Effective Ways to Reduce Restaurant Wait Times

A placard saying please wait to be seated

Good news! Your restaurant is everyone's favorite place to stop by and enjoy dinner every Saturday night. The bad news? This has resulted in longer wait times for guests.

Though wait times are a factor that can be out of your control, there are different ways you can try out to reduce wait times for your guests. Let's go through 5 ideas you'll want to consider.

Online Food Ordering is a Trend

Your customers will no longer have to wait for a seat. Instead, customers will be able to stay in the comfort of their own home. For this reason, more restaurants are turning to mobile food delivery services for help, not to mention, it's growing quickly.

A Statista survey showed 20 percent of its participants claim to use a food delivery service at least one time every week. Numbers also show that within one year, the food delivery service went from contributing 30 billion dollars to the overall sales of the restaurant industry to an increased amount of 206 billion dollars (Statista). What a difference a year can make.

A food delivery service will cater to guests with a busy schedule to the person who would rather stay in and enjoy a quick meal.

Aside from bring beneficial to these guests, this allows your restaurant to slim down the number of guests on the waitlist without sacrificing sales numbers.   

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Self-Service Kiosk

A self-service kiosk is commonly a tablet-like device that allows for customers to service themselves by performing simple tasks such as entering their food order and paying for their order with a zero-wait time.

It offers faster service by allowing for more orders to be put in at once, reducing customer complaints and lines since they will have the option to use the self-service kiosk as an alternate to waiting in a long line.

A survey displayed that 57 percent of people would choose to leave their place in line if there were at least five people in front of them to get to a cashier (Kiosk Marketplace).

If you haven't already noticed, self-service kiosk's in the restaurant business is becoming more common. In another survey, Kiosk Marketplace reported that 60 percent of people surveyed said that if an establishment offered a self-service kiosk, they would be more likely to visit.

According to Revel Systems, 58 percent of restaurants decided to increase their budget for technology from 1 percent to 5 percent within one year.

At times, it is possible for all your employees to be occupied at once with a customer, but instead of the line ceasing to grow, guests will be happy to help themselves on a self-service kiosk.


SMS Text Management System

Many restaurants are implementing a text message management system that allows for customers to choose how they spend their time waiting rather than being forced to sit in the small, crowded waiting room next to the "hangry," crying baby sitting nearby.

This system will alter the flow of your wait time, by allowing guests to send in their reservation through text message, and virtually be on the wait list without being present at the location in that moment.

Although lunch and dinner rushes can be unpredictable, allowing guests to reserve their spot in line prior to arriving to your restaurant will give your employees more time to prepare ahead of time for the incoming party. It also allows for wait times to be more spaced out, rather than having five different parties walk through the door all at once, maybe next time two of the five parties will book their spot in line ahead of time.

Most importantly, this service will increase guest satisfaction. People enjoy having more choices and Lavi Industries finds that even if allowing guests to stand in line virtually doesn't actually change the time they are waiting, it does reduce their perceived wait time.


One Team, One Dream

Increasing your restaurant turn time is crucial to decreasing guest wait times (Nerd Wallet). There are many ways to achieve this, but it starts with having a full staff to have maximum hands on deck. Although it is tempting to cut hours to save money, the faster your restaurant's tables turn, the more money your restaurant is making.

Make sure your restaurant is equipped with the right people and the right tools. Make sure you have excellent trainers and reliable technology to use by team members, allowing for overall faster service with great quality is the key to turning tables as quickly as possible.

Instilling this mentality within your staff is important to do when training in making sure everyone is on the same page. Nerd Wallet provides tips for doing so, like teaching team members to greet a table within a minute of customers being sat - because the faster they begin their dining experience, the faster it finishes.

Toast recommends that hosts avoid seating tables who are still waiting for people in their party to arrive. This is because the party will most likely wait to order until those guests appear, and even though they claim they are only five minutes away, it could really mean twenty minutes - enough time to seat a complete party, serve them drinks and take their food order.

Another tip Toast offers, is making it known to guests when it is time to leave the party. Although this may sound rude, there are ways to give guests subtle cues that it is time for them to leave. These cues include clearing the table of all trash and empty glasses so they see you are preparing for the next table to sit. Another cue is for a server to continuously ask "Can I get you anything else?" in order for them to realize they no longer need to stay at an empty table if they are finished with the restaurant service.


Close Out Checks With A Tablet

Investing in technological services, like a tablet, can assist with increasing your restaurant's table turning time. In the restaurant industry, it can be difficult to determine the time the checked should be dropped off at a table. Many parties seem to be enjoying their time, and no one wants to be rude by cutting their time short by dropping off the check.

An easy solution is investing in tablets that stay at tables and allow guests to cash out their own checks at free will. Not only will this eliminate the complaint of the server taking too long to drop the bill (as reported by Toast), but it will also eliminate servers having to wait in line with one another to use POS terminals to cash guests out.


In Conclusion

In the restaurant industry, customers are constantly demanding for service to be quick. The ultimate challenge for your restaurant will be finding the balance between speedy and high quality service through whichever methods that may be achieved through and works best for your business. 

 Cut your restaurant marketing spending in half by using these 10 Different ways! 

Download here!

10 things to cut from your restaurant marketing

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