Restaurants face a unique set of pressures as they seek to maximize revenue. In the hospitality industry, profitability depends on making sure every table is used to serve as many different parties as possible. But at the same time, they must also make sure each diner feels the experience is all about them. Here are 4 ways that restaurants can maximize table turnover while delivering the service diners expect.
1. Take the wait away
In restaurants, so much time is wasted as customers wait to place their order, receive their food and pay the bill. While those customers are waiting, others are being put off by the queue or the lack of available tables, and they’re moving on to eat at a competing restaurant. Cutting down wait times is a simple and effective way to increase table turnover and enhance the dining experience, and today’s technology offers countless ways to achieve this in a way that suits your business. For quick service and takeout orders, a mobile app can empower customers to order their food on the go so they only need to collect it from the counter. Self-service ordering through kiosks or tablets at the table can speed up service at fast or fast casual restaurants. And putting mobile devices in the hands of waiting staff means they can get to the customer’s table straight away with all they need to answer questions, take customized orders and accept payments.
2. Deliver the dish they want – fast
The kitchen is at the heart of the dining experience, and its ability to prepare dishes quickly and accurately is key to efficient table turnover. Today, diners are placing increasing demands on the kitchen. They want to customize their order by adding or leaving out certain ingredients, and they want the dishes cooked exactly to their personal taste. It’s essential for the kitchen to be able to deliver that special dish just how – and when – the customer wants. Make sure your kitchen staff have a clear, real-time overview of the orders coming in, the ingredients customers want to add or leave out, and any special instructions about how they want their dish prepared. The best management systems enable you to send orders straight to the kitchen from the Point of Sale (POS). The orders are then displayed on screens, or printed, in the order they should be cooked. Waiters can also check the preparation status of dishes for their tables at the POS. This kind of seamless, integrated connection between the kitchen and POS is the only way to enable fast, accurate delivery of every dish.
3. Let your diners leave
When diners have finished their meal, both you and they want to say quick goodbyes. Your customers have better things to do than hang around, and you need to start serving the next diners. But in many restaurants, service stalls when it comes to payment. According to various studies, customers often have to wait 10-12 minutes between deciding they want the bill and being able to leave the restaurant. That’s a significant impact on table turnover. Today’s technology makes it possible to reduce that wait to seconds and ensure fast, secure payment in the way each customer wants. Not only can modern POS systems quickly split the bill in different ways and accept a growing range of payment options as well as different currencies; they can also run on mobile and stationary devices to maximize convenience and efficiency.
4. Bring people in during off-peak timesWhile at peak times you might end up refusing diners a table, during off-peak hours you probably have the opposite problem: instead of trying to turn tables, you need to fill tables. If you know your customers, and have a loyalty system, you can use the technology to bring more people in during quiet times. With the right system in place you can send your customers personalized special offers and loyalty bonuses for a specific time straight to their phone. By using the information you have collected about your customers – their favorite dishes or combinations, what day and time they usually visit you – you can send targeted promotions that will make both your customers and you happy.
Maximizing table turnover requires efficient and connected processes throughout the operation. Customers should be able to order, pay and leave quickly and conveniently. Staff should have all the information and tools they need for responsive customer service, along with a clear view of table and order status across mobile and stationary POS. And the kitchen needs a clear, real-time view of orders and special instructions. It’s a good idea to think about your targets from improving table turnover, how the systems you have in place now are helping or hindering progress towards them, and how much you could achieve if all those systems worked seamlessly together.