Managing Wait Times
Pressure to keep lines moving and wait times as short as possible is increasing, especially with the addition of technology that informs customers of real-time wait-times, via cell phones. While wait times and keeping guests happy isn’t necessarily a new concern, it is a concern with new complexities as technology gets added to the mix.
While you might wonder what your front of house staff can do to help manage wait times, it’s really your kitchen you need to begin with. Allowing Chef’s to tweak recipes to allow for faster prep and cook time and getting food to guests quicker will allow for faster table turnover. Another great strategy, especially when your wait times are long and you can’t make them any faster, is to keep your waiting guests entertained while they wait. Creating an environment for waiting guests can be as simple as doubling your wait area size, adding outdoor wait areas that include seating, blankets, and fire pits or outdoor patio heaters to keep guests comfortable. Offering free samples and drinks is another great and low-cost way to keep your guests happy while they wait.
Another ingenious way to incorporate technology into shorter wait times is to add digital pay-at-the-table tablets. Guests are able to cue up their own check, pay, and then leave – without requesting the check from the wait staff and waiting on it and their credit card to be returned. This can reduce table wait time by up to ten minutes! Allowing your guests to request a table via text message or mobile device is a great way to reduce wait time. By allowing guests to text your restaurant and request a table for their party, they’re able to go on with other activities until it’s time for them to return to the restaurant to claim their table. This keeps everyone happy and also frees up space in your waiting area for other guests.
Make sure that you’re only seating complete parties instead of allowing them to sit at the table and wait for their guests to arrive – this causes a backup for everyone, including your other guests who won’t be happy. Instead, explain to the party that you’ll be seating them just as soon as their party is complete and then direct them to the lounge or waiting area.
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