Whether the customer is staring at his/her watch in the checkout line or just tapping his/her fingers on hold, long wait times diminishes customer experience. Again, both hold times and ling wait items may cause you to lose sales and make your guests less likely to come back.
This being the case, you must be looking for the effective ways of reducing customer wait times in your restaurant. To achieve this, you will need to keep things organized by planning ahead of time and speed up the various processes.
Faster order taking, preparation and payment processing as well good manager of tables and employees will all result in reduced wait times. With so many variables to address, you may have a hard time achieving the level of perfection you desire.
Nonetheless, this is still possible so long as you address the key problematic areas in the restaurant, including:
- 1 Staff Pre-Scheduling
- 2 Prior Preparation of Snacks
- 3 Accept Reservations
- 4 Friendly Distractions
- 5 Develop a Set of Specialty/Signature Dishes
- 6 Timely Checks
- 7 Line Bustling Technology
- 8 Apply a Wait Management System
- 9 Implement Self-Service Kiosk
- 10 Get a Restaurant-Specific POS System
- 11 Ready to Reduce Lines at Your Restaurant?
To begin with, you need to optimize employee performance in your business. To do this, you need to plan for each day beforehand using employee pre-schedules. Depending on the prevailing demand, you should ensure that you have enough staff for each shift. This is because understanding has been proven to increase wait times.
In your schedules, you need to sort out the various table assignments and assign an employee to each assignment. For enhanced efficiency, you should assign the various roles based on their individual performances overtime.
While doing this, you need to pay special attention to peak hours in your business. In this regard, it is advisable to have additional employees for peak-hour schedules. They will ensure that you are prepared to deliver exceptional customer services and reduced wait times during rush hours.
Train Your Staff
In addition effective pre-scheduling, you also need to ensure that each employee has the right set of skills required for the assigned role. This means that you need to train your employees from time to time and ensure that they know what is required of them during working hours.
For each shift, you need to ensure that the various staff members are assigned roles based on their expertise and experience. With regular training, you can also ensure that the staff is capable of handling high traffic pressure during peak hours.
For instance, the servers need to arrive at the tables within a reasonable time-frame to take customer orders. A team that has gone through extensive customer service training is in a better position to deliver swift and satisfactory customer service. In addition to refusing wait times, this will also boost customer experience in the restaurant.
Prior Preparation of Snacks
If you have been in the business for a considerable period, you already know what your patrons prefer. Equipped with such knowledge, you should consider preparing a few of the in-demand snacks in advance.
As opposed to preparing the snacks once the guests have been seated, prior preparation will ensure that the appetizers are ready to be served. Such snacks will keep the customers busy as they wait for the orders or tables to be prepared.
Since the guests are waiting for the main meal, you should ensure that the appetizers you offer are not overfilling. This will keep them occupied as they wait, hence are likely to think of the waiting time to be shorter than it actually is.
While some of the leading restaurants accept reservations online, a few of them still do not support this capability. If you do not accept mobile and or online reservations in your restaurant, you should start right away.
In addition to the convenience of booking from anywhere and at any time they find convenient, this feature speeds up order processing. Rather than having your employees process every reservation manually, it is advisable to integrate online reservation capability to your restaurant POS system.
In such a case, the guests only need to place their reservations from their mobile homes. The reservation will then be processed automatically by the POS system. This frees your servers up to attend to customers on-site.
Whenever your mind is preoccupied, time tends to fly by quickly. As such, you should try to capture the attention of your guests as soon as they enter the premise and keep them preoccupied all through. In this regard, you should consider investing in the right visual distractions, such as television sets.
Again, playing music will keep the guests entertained and give them an illusion of faster wait times. You may also offer activities for facilities that are specifically meant to keep them preoccupied and entertained as they wait. Other effective forms o guest distractions you may apply in your restaurant include:
As the guests wait for their main course meal, you may offer them an appetizer or even samplers. Not only does this keep them occupied as they wait, but it has also been proven to make customers feel appreciated.
Again, customers who may not be interested in the main menu items you offer will love the efficiency and speed presented by the appetizers you prepared. In order to save time and speed up the process, you should create an easily-cooked special for each day and have it prepared ahead of time.
Just as is the car with appetizers, offering your customers drinks as they wait for their orders will help them pass time. In such a case, it is advisable to offer the guests a refreshing beverage, especially on hot days. This will entice your customers to wait a little longer for their orders or tables to be ready.
Develop a Set of Specialty/Signature Dishes
Normally, many restaurant customers prefer having special foods on special occasions. On such occasions, it is advisable to plan a dish that can be prepared readily for that particular day or night. For instance, you may prepare nachos for chicken wings for professional footballers.
During such occasions, you should also consider offering easily-shared appetizers. The main idea here is to have signature dishes that your customers are likely to appreciate on such occasions.
Although you will still offer the main menu items, the guests will be more likely to order the specialty dish. By so doing, you will be able to attend to them and prepare their orders faster.
Having waited for their food to be prepared, you do not want to keep your guest waiting for their checks as well. In order to reduce the wait time and improve customer experience, you should have the servers present guests with their checks as soon as they are done eating.
You should train the servers on timely check delivery. Not only is this pleasing to the customers, but the current dinners can only leave after clearing their bills. The faster this is done, the faster they can leave and create more space for more diners
Timely check delivery to the guests, coupled with speedy payment processing, will turn tables faster and boost profitability. Again, this will boost customer satisfaction in your services, hence more likely to leave bigger tips.
Line Bustling Technology
Rather than having the guests queue all the way to the POS station to place their orders, you should have the servers work up the line. With a mobile POS gadget, the servers will be able to take orders accurately from the customers whenever they are in the business.
The servers will then be able to fire the orders directly to the kitchen for preparation. That alone will save them a considerable amount of time and shorten waiting time for customers. Again, such a solution will also I notice throughout and turn tables faster.
When the guests are ready to pay, the servers can also use the same Mobile POS solution to process payments at the tableside. Your customers will find this to be more convenient and faster than having to walk all the way to the POS station to make their payments.
Apply a Wait Management System
While the above-mentioned steps will speed up operations in your business, you should consider working with preset goals. For better results, you should consider getting the right wait management system.
With the right technology, you will be able to quote accurate wait times to your customers as they place their orders or reservations. Such systems are also packed with a myriad of tools to help you manage the seating, ordering, and payment processing processes.
All these are aimed at reducing unnecessary time wastage at. Some of the best restaurants wait managing systems also feature integrated notifications. Such systems are designed to notify the customers automatically via text messages when their tables/orders are ready.
Implement Self-Service Kiosk
What if you allowed the customers to place their orders directly into the restaurant POS system and fire them to the kitchen directly? Well, this will definitely speed up the ordering process and free your servers up to attend to other important things.
Just like the leading Mobile POS solutions for restaurants, the best self-service Kiosks are built for line bursting. Over the years, this technology has been proven to boost back of house efficiency and turn tables faster in restaurants.
Kiosks are particularly renowned for speeding up processing time by up to 40 percent, especially during the rush hour.
Get a Restaurant-Specific POS System
In addition to taking orders and processing payments, the leading POS systems are packed with an assortment of other capabilities. To begin with, the right solution with making it easier for you to manage the employees, sales and inventory for enhanced efficiency.
Again, a solution that is specifically designed for restaurants should have the right tools for tracking and reducing wait times. Some of the POS capabilities that will help you reduce wait times include:
- Table/Floor Management
In addition to mapping the entire restaurant floor plan and table arrangement, you preferred POS system should furnish you with the right data. For instance, it should allow you to cope with an overflowing reservations list and influence decision making.
The table manager feature on your POS system should also be capable of locating and confirming the various reservations in your business. In this regard, it should be able to arrange the reservations and include such details as a number of covers and occupation duration.
It should also feature analytic tools to help you understand how many last-minute reservations, and walk-in customers the restaurant can support. For an easier manager, the solution should indicate the status of each table at any particular time.
- Speedy Transactions
The register on your mobile and stationary POS stations should allow for easy and swift transactions. To begin with, the same should have an intuitive interface that makes it easy for your employees to navigate through the various features.
It should also allow the staff to enter and edit order details, update checks and ring up customer transactions fast. This will also shorten customer wait times in your business.
- Staff and Inventory Management
The right solution should allow you to generate optimized work schedules in line with demand and employee qualifications. Again, it should feature an inbuilt clock, allowing the employees to clock-in and out through the POS. It should also give you an overview of employee activity and make it easy for you to manage them in real-time.
With powerful reporting and analytic capabilities, a restaurant POS system will help you optimize the inventory. For instance, it will help you stock the right amount of each ingredient. This will ensure that you do not run out of items when they are needed as well as limit wastage.
Ready to Reduce Lines at Your Restaurant?
The above-described steps will keep things organized and speed up operations in your restaurant. However, you also need to understand that the perception of time is relative. A chaotic experience will make 5 minutes appear like 10 minutes to your guests.
The same guests may wait for 15 minutes in another restaurant and feel as if they have only been waiting for five minutes simply because they are getting exceptional customer service. This being the case, you need to speed up operations in your restaurant and still make the guests feel as if they are the only customer in the establishment.
With such interventions in place, you will not have any problem attracting and maintaining high volume customers in the fast-casual, full-service restaurant or quick-service business.