If you own a restaurant that has ever gone on a waiting list, you know that turning tables is the key to higher profits and engaging more customers. Never wishing to rush or kick out a customer make turning tables quickly more of an art than science, but technology and offline techniques can work together to make the most of each seat and table in a restaurant.
Seating design is one of the most overlooked techniques that can be used to get customers moving more quickly without reducing the guest experience. Square tables over round, for instance, can shorten the turn cycle. Moving more tables away from walls can make a restaurant seem busier, which can also stimulate guests into themselves moving with a slightly faster step.
Other analog techniques can be used by service staff to make sure time is not wasted with guests in seats:
- Servers should greet guests at a table within 60 seconds of those guests sitting down
- Plates can be cleared as they become available, rather than after all guests have finished
- Communication between servers, bussers, and hosts should be quick and consistent, so that bussers and hosts can anticipate 3-7 minutes ahead, which will reduce the amount of time a table spends unoccupied during busy periods.
- Drop off the check with Dessert, but have the check pre-printed prior to dessert in case an up-sell is not possible.
- Assign more staff to large parties to expedite.
In many cases, techniques like these can reduce the table times by more than 15 minutes, allowing for one or even two more turns on those seats. Those are dollars that add up.
Finally, technology, such as Flyght’s order at the table functionality, allow for a reduction in the ordering process at the beginning of a meal. Every minute at every seat has a value. Continue to train staff, communicate and automate to run lean, and increase profits.