If you find potential guests turning away due to a long wait, you could be having a problem with your table turnover rate.
While you want your guests to enjoy themselves at your restaurant and get the best dining experience possible, increasing your restaurant’s table turnover will help prevent a myriad of restaurant issues like:
- Extended wait times
- Kitchen and server back up
- Servers unable to serve guests efficiently
Avoid Sitting Incomplete Parties
More and more, sit-down restaurants are no longer sitting incomplete parties, even if they have a reservation. The reasoning is simple: Seating incomplete parties creates a trickle-down effect that is felt throughout the entire restaurant.
Incomplete parties order slower, one item at a time, and often will not order until all of their party members are present. This in turn hangs up the kitchen and servers whose timing is now off making it more difficult to operate efficiently.
Make the offer to order drinks at the bar so incomplete parties can be comfortable while they wait. If your restaurant is not busy, you can make the exception to seat incomplete parties — simply use your best judgement.
Politely Remove Guests Who Won’t Leave
Every restaurant will experience guests known as “campers”; guests that don’t leave the table after their meal is done and their checks have been paid.
Many times, guests simply lose track of time chatting and catching up with their friends. Whatever is keeping them there, they can have a detrimental effect on your restaurant — especially if you are at peak hours.
If you experience campers, clearing the table of dishes, glasses, and silverware is often a good way to signal to these guests that you need the table for others. If they don’t get the hint, politely letting them know that you need the table will work — if they won’t leave, offer them a place at the bar if there is room so the table can go to another guest.
However, it is important to tread lightly when dealing with campers. If you come off too strongly, guests may deem you unwelcoming. Whatever the case may be, always take the high road.
Make Server Runs More Efficient
Properly training your servers and implementing some simple tricks can significantly reduce inefficiencies during peak hours. Some of these include:
- Only take orders when the whole party is present to cut down on table runs.
- Bring water, bread, and silverware to the table only after guests are seated.
- Ask if they need anything like extra condiments and napkins when they order so servers don’t have to go back and get them.
Teaching your servers these simple guidelines, as well as others that may be specific to your restaurant, will help increase your table turnover without rushing guests.
Limit Your Menu Options
More isn’t always better. If a guest is faced with too many menu options, they can experience “choice paralysis”, making them slower to order. To help guests get around this problem and increase your table turnover rate, limit the number of items on your menu.
By limiting the menu at your restaurant, you will be making the customer’s decision making more efficient as well as eliminating long ticket times in the kitchen. If you have trouble deciding which items to cut from your menu, review which items have not performed well and remove those.
Invest In Cloud POS
If your restaurant is busy and servers cannot check out guests efficiently quickly because the terminal is constantly busy, you could potentially see guest reviews lamenting how long it took to get their check or put their order in. This can also impact server quality and satisfaction if tips are decreased due to significant waits.
A quality POS system will also help you easily manage reservations by calculating your peak hours and helping you make executive decisions like whether to seat incomplete parties and when to ask a camper to leave.
An often unrecognized aspect of restaurant management, improved table turnover improves almost every aspect of restaurant management – guests are happier, servers are happier, kitchen staff is happier and you will be happier as revenue improves and problems diminish.