Increase Your Table Turnover in 7 Easy Steps

Restaurant Success Tips

If you have a bustling restaurant, having faster table turnover is one of the best ways to increase both revenue and customer satisfaction. However, turning tables must be done tactfully. The last thing any restaurant should do is make the customer feel like they are being pushed out of their seat for the next guest. Instead, follow these hot tips to speed up the turnover time tastefully.

1. Train Servers to Greet Their Tables Immediately:

Make sure every guest is greeted as soon as they come into the restaurant. You can even add more flair by opening the door and welcoming them as guests. Seat your guests as quickly as possible. Customers hate standing at the door when there are lots of open tables in sight.

This turnover tactic should be like clockwork for your servers. Industry standards recommend that the server should get to a patron’s table within one minute of being seated. When the server initially comes to the table, drinks should be ordered. Within ten minutes of ordering the drinks, food should be ordered. This way, the restaurant is saving valuable minutes in which customers are just waiting for their server.

Of course, this tactic is not an exact science. Many times, especially in finer dining establishments, customers enjoy chatting with one another prior to ordering. However, incentivizing your employees to make sure they are getting to the tables immediately will lead to a faster and more satisfying customer service experience.

2. Don’t Explain Menu to Repeat Guests:

A description of the restaurant concept and menu layout is great for first-time guests. It gives servers a way to showcase the best menu options and work on upselling in the process. However, if a customer has been to a restaurant before, retelling the entire restaurant spiel is inefficient, and sometimes, even annoying to customers. Instead, train your wait staff to save those precious minutes by asking customers if they have visited before.

Servers should ask customers whether they’re new to the establishment or have been there before, says Boyd Hoback, CEO of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar. A return visitor likely won’t need a repeat of the menu, saving you time.

“If they’ve been to us before and are familiar with the menu, we immediately ask if they want to go ahead and order,” Hoback says. If there’s a large party at a table, Hoback recommends putting at least one or two more servers on that table to speed up the service process.

3. Assign Two or More Servers to Large Tables:

Parties of eight or more can be overwhelming for one server to handle. A server that feels stretched thin in these situations means slower ordering times and poorer customer service. Mitigate these negative situations by putting more than one server on large tables. This enables servers to be attentive to the customer’s needs, and that means a quicker dining process. Be sure also to train your staff to clear finished dishes throughout the meal as opposed to waiting until all guests have left the table. This will allow a quicker clean-up and turnover of the table and waiting guests can be seated sooner

4. Drop Off the Check Prior to the End of the Meal:

Within two bites or within two minutes, your server should check back on the dessert with the check already tallied. If the guests are happy with the dessert or didn’t order dessert, then your server can put the check down. If you have server check pads, place them upright. This serves two purposes; it is easy for the guest to see the check, and it is also easy for the server to know if the guest has payment ready when the check pad is no longer upright. When serving the check, it’s important for servers to go along with carrying out boxes, if requested, or if there is a lot of food leftover.

Training your servers to drop a check off prior to the end of the meal is a sure way to increase table turnover. During busy weekday lunches, many customers appreciate the urgency of their server dropping a check off early. Just be sure that you ask customers whether or not they’d like to order anything else, so you don’t risk losing revenue or leave your customers feeling like they are being rushed out of their seats.

5. Test Out New Technology:

Although paying the check signals the end of a meal, it’s oftentimes a lengthy task. Servers have to collect credit cards, run them back to the register, print out receipts, and deliver them back to the table. This doesn’t even include the time-consuming tasks of splitting the check at the last minute or using gift cards. Even after you’ve delivered the receipts to the tables, customers still tend to take their time writing out their tips and chitchatting. To help expedite this process, consider investing in a mobile POS system.

In the technologically advanced times in which we live, gone are the days where employees must go to a stationary POS system to take orders and finalize payments. Instead, restaurants have the option of having mobile pay stations and tableside tablets for easy ordering. By using upgraded technology devices, servers can run credit cards and complete checks right at the table in front of their customers or let customers pay when they’re ready to leave. If you own a casual restaurant, opting for these electronic systems can help drastically increase efficiency by allowing servers to focus on other tasks. Popular casual establishments like Applebee’s and Chili’s have already begun using this technology.

6. Don’t Accept Reservations on Busiest Nights:

If your restaurant is consistently busy during Friday night dinner, giving diners the options to make reservations can cost your restaurant big in turnover rates and revenue. With a reservation system, tables are held for customers that may not show up on time at all. Instead of risking this cost to both time and revenue, keep your restaurant strictly “walk-in” during your busiest days.

7. Use Seating Software:

If your hostess manually assigns tables, you probably aren’t seating guests with maximum efficiency. Although on slower nights, this may not seem like a huge issue, if your restaurant is busy, seating a small party at a large table can slow down the entire night. Instead, try seating software that aids in creating seating assignments based on your reservations and waitlist.

Seating software help to save your time and labor resources by reducing your manual work. The software consists of many modules to implement various works. One of the modules will make schedules and allocate staff to a specified task, ensuring that you do not need to fix too many staff for a simple assignment. The software will calculate the number of resources needed for special events and programs and provide better results to carry out the operations in an efficient manner. This will help in saving time and improve seating efficiency. In addition to increasing efficiency, many of these software programs will send mobile updates to customers, letting them know when their table is ready.

By making simple changes to the routines of your servers, hosts, and service in general, or by updating your dining room layout or menu, you’ll be able to get customers in out and the door in a timely fashion without making them feel rushed or unwanted.