Restaurant owners may dream of having an establishment so popular and prestigious that customers are lining up outside the doors waiting to dine there. But long wait times frustrate customers — especially when the wait is caused by inefficient operations — and this can lead to lost revenue. However, there are ways that savvy management can reduce restaurant wait times to provide a better customer experience and maximize profits.
1. Utilize Mobile POS
Mobile point of sale (POS) technology can reduce restaurant wait times in multiple ways. Tableside ordering with a mobile device can eliminate errors common to paper-ticket methods and streamline the ordering process. Mobile POS can also provide sales suggestions for upselling add-ons such as appetizers or desserts, increasing average ticket size. Tableside payment processing is also faster than having the server collect the card, run it at a stationary terminal, and return it to the table. Shaving minutes off of those processes will increase table turnovers and get the next waiting customers seated more quickly.
Quick service and fast casual restaurants can also use mobile POS for line busting. When the line of customers gets too long, employees can get out from behind the counter and work their way through the queue taking orders on their mobile devices. The orders go straight to the kitchen, so the cooks can start preparing the food even before the customer reaches the counter to pay. The faster and more efficiently the line moves, the happier on-the-go customers are — and the more revenue you generate.
2. Use a Wait Management System
Technology can also help reduce restaurant wait times with the availability of various waitlist tools to assist with the seating process. An automated wait management system can provide the most accurate wait time estimates, so customers aren’t told 10 minutes if the wait will be 25. It can notify customers via text or page when their tables are ready, giving them more freedom while they wait (which can make the wait seem shorter). And it can alert staff to keep table turns moving quickly.
3. Optimize Labor
Another way to reduce restaurant wait times is to keep operations running smoothly with the right mix of hosts, servers, cooks, and bussers, especially during peak hours. Too many employees per shift can make labor costs cut into profits; but too few can mean table turns get backed up while guests are left waiting to be seated. The data that your POS system provides can help you identify your busiest times, track table turnover rates, and schedule your staff accordingly.
4. Train Thoroughly
Not only do you want the optimal number of employees per shift, but you also want them to be trained well in the best hospitality practices and operational processes so they’re working at top efficiency. For example, they need to know how to present the check and collect payment in a timely manner, so that customers who have finished dining aren’t getting impatient to leave and tying up valuable table time.
Training employees in the use of mobile POS should be relatively effortless, since the iPad or other tablet interface will likely already be familiar to them from using personal devices — especially if your staff is comprised of millennial or Gen Z workers. Well-trained staff armed with the proper tools are always a great recipe for reducing restaurant wait times.
With more than two decades of experience, Focus POS is ready to help you choose the best solutions to reduce restaurant wait times and grow your business. Contact us to find out more or request a demo.