In the restaurant world, time is money. Giving customers a wonderful dining experience is always important, but if diners linger too long, it frustrates potential customers waiting for tables – and results in reduced profits. One of the keys to your business is to turn tables over quickly while still maintaining a great atmosphere for diners. This responsibility goes beyond servers; managers, hosts, cooks, and bussers all need to do their part.
Here are seven tips to create an experience that benefits you financially and customers will love:
1. Consider not taking reservations, or requiring confirmations.
Although reservations have some advantages, they can also cause difficulty with turning over tables. No-shows are a common problem in restaurants, and it’s hard to turn over tables that sit there empty. If you do want to use reservations, we recommend floor staff call and confirm all reservations 24-48 hours in advance, encouraging cancellations if diners’ plans changed. You can also require a small cash deposit when diners make reservations in case of a no-show. Cash deposits for reservations tend to reduce no-shows and weed out groups who are on the fence of coming in but want to make reservations ‘just in case’.
Cash deposits for reservations tend to reduce no-shows and weed out groups who are on the fence of coming in but want to make reservations ‘just in case’.
2. Prepare food in advance.
Some food needs to be made on order, but line cooks can prepare a surprising amount of ingredients before the mealtime even starts. Cooks, prepare food that won’t spoil for the most popular dishes in advance, particularly food that requires a large amount of cutting or chopping. Once a meal gets ordered, it’s easier and faster to simply heat up these premade ingredients.
3. Go through the menu quickly and clearly.
When seating the table, give your customers a full menu, including drinks and the daily specials, immediately, so they don’t have to wait to hear the from the server. You’ll want to include key ingredients and side dishes on the menu, as well as marking if the dish is vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. By laying out everything in advance, your guests will be less frustrated, and servers will spend less time answering questions before ordering.
By laying out everything in advance, your guests will be less frustrated, and servers will spend less time answering questions before ordering.
4. Assign tables to diners carefully.
The more quickly you can communicate with diners, the faster they’ll be able to get their food and eat it. If you’re working as the hostess for the night, make sure you assign tables so that servers all have a roughly equal number of tables, and don’t have to walk long distances between them.
5. Pay attention to the music you play.
Research from decades ago continues to stand; loud music causes customers to chew and eat their food more quickly, while soft, slower music causes guests to linger over the food. As a restaurant manager, consider using upbeat and faster music with a quick beat to help your diners eat and move more quickly.
Consider using upbeat and faster music with a quick beat to help your diners eat and move more quickly.
6. Consider having diners pay their bill using modern technology.
After the meal, it can take precious extra minutes for diners to pay the bill, particularly if they’re splitting the bill with friends or paying by credit cards. Instead of making your guests wait, why not have them pay their bill with their phones? There are apps available that make it easy for guests to quickly pay with cards and split the bill amongst themselves, while still tipping the server. It saves time and is more convenient for diners, and helps your restaurant more quickly seat the table again.
7. After diners leave, clean the tables quickly.
After diners leave, it’s the responsibility of table bussers and servers to turn over the table as fast as possible. It’s important for floor staff to remain attentive and be ready right away to clean the table and put on new silverware. Restaurant managers, create a clear and easy to access space with dishes and silverware that your crew can easily access.
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