How to Reduce Waiting Time in Restaurants

How to Reduce Waiting Time in Restaurants
Reduce restaurant wait times with these operational efficiency tips. Minimizing long wait times in restaurants can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction.
by Colleen Egan May 08, 2019 — 2 min read
How to Reduce Waiting Time in Restaurants

It might seem like a restaurant with crowds and long wait times is a popular, successful business. But customers aren’t fans of crowds and long wait times, and if they experience these at your restaurant, they might not return. If your restaurant is plagued with these issues, don’t lose hope. It is possible to boost efficiency so that customers spend less time standing around and more time enjoying their food.

Focus on staff training

From the moment customers walk through the door to the time they pay their bill, there are many opportunities for your employees to streamline their dining experience. Unfortunately, there are just as many ways to create inefficiencies and contribute to long wait times. Evaluate processes and see where your staff can improve. Then retrain your staff to focus on removing any bottlenecks and improving the overall flow.

Invest in technology

A well-trained staff can help you go a long way toward cutting wait times. And adding a technology element can help you get to the next level of efficiency. For example, Square for Restaurants is a point-of-sale system with hardware, software, and payments that you can customize to fit your business’s needs. So front-of-house staff can sync up with back-of-house staff. They can send orders to the kitchen, make changes if needed, and even control the pace of the meal. When it’s time to pay, servers can do things like split the check, add automatic gratuity for large parties, and even reprint receipts. The system also lets you track how long each table has been seated and color-code to prompt servers to turn the table.

Rethink front-of-house staffing

If your restaurant does a robust takeout business in addition to sit-down dining, you need to staff up accordingly. When customers walk through the door, you want to know whether they’re there for pickup or waiting for a table. So, in addition to clear signage, add dedicated employees to staff the carryout side of your business. At particularly busy times, send an employee into the crowd to separate customers into carryout and dine-in groups and get them checked in. Adding a mobile payment option enables employees to bring orders directly to customers. It also allows them to process their transactions from the comfort of your waiting area or bar instead of making them stand in a long line.

Reconsider reservations

If your restaurant is walk-in only, but you consistently attract eager crowds and have to turn away disappointed potential customers, maybe it’s time to rethink your policy. For example, if you decide to accept reservations for parties of six or more, you can schedule servers in advance. Even if you opt to accept just a limited number of reservations and leave the rest of your tables open to walk-ins, it would go a long way toward cutting crowds. And it would give you a better sense of what to expect from day to day, which would help you better plan staffing and supplies. Reservations help bring order to the chaos. You don’t want customers walking away frustrated and complaining on social media after they couldn’t get a table at your restaurant. You want them seated and fed so that you can build a loyal following of satisfied customers.

Running a business is no easy feat, but Square is here to help. We have all the tools you need to start, run, and grow your business, whether you’re selling in person, online, or both. And we’ve made all our tools to work together as one system, saving you time and money — and making decisions easier. So you can get back to doing the work you love and focusing on whatever’s next. See how Square works.

Colleen Egan
Colleen Egan writes for Square, where she covers everything from how aspiring entrepreneurs can turn their passion into a career to the best marketing strategies for small businesses who are ready to take their enterprise to the next level.


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