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How to Reduce Waiting Time in Restaurants

Lauren Valensky
20 Jul. 2023

If you're anything like us here at Epos Now, you won't like waiting in line... especially when hunger’s involved. And that goes for business owners too. Having long wait times at your establishment can deter customers from returning, and damage your profits in the long run.

That said, many of us have come to accept that waiting at/for a table at your favourite restaurant is just something that comes with the popular people-based nature of the hospitality industry.

But what if there were ways to drastically reduce these waiting times? Well, it just so happens, that we've compiled a list of savvy strategies, so you can learn how to reduce waiting times in your restaurant.

Why wait? Let's queue jump straight into it...

Understand why customers might be queueing

The first step to reducing wait times is understanding why your customers might be queuing in the first place. Are they waiting for a table? Maybe they're queuing to order food at the counter? Once you know where the bottleneck is, you can start to put measures in place to reduce the queue.

Promote pre-ordering

If you know your restaurant is going to be busy, offer pre-ordering. This way, customers can order their food in advance and skip the queue when they arrive. Pre-ordering can also be done via your restaurant's app or website.

Turn to technology

In today's day and age, you place yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t turn to technology to help reduce waiting times.

By implementing an ordering system or table planning software, you can take customer orders in advance, and manage your space more efficiently, meaning they don't have to queue when they arrive at your restaurant.

Whether it's SMS marketing tools to say when food’s ready or investing in a queue management system to take virtual orders, there are plenty of tech-based solutions available to help you reduce waiting times.

Encourage group ordering

If you have a big group dining with you, encourage them to order their food at the same time. This way, they can all eat together and you can avoid having customers queue up to order individually.

Offer a loyalty card scheme

Loyalty schemes are a great way to encourage customers to keep coming back, and they can also help reduce waiting times. By offering loyalty cards, you can give customers who frequently visit your restaurant priority seating or queue jumping privileges. This is a great way to show your regular customers that you appreciate their business.

Train your staff

It’s crucial that you train your staff on how to deal with waiting, and we're not talking tables. They should be able to take orders quickly and efficiently, without keeping customers hanging around. When they do see a customer waiting they should also be able to react accordingly: 

From managing customer satisfaction to learning how best to serve up queue busters, your staff should be equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to work at optimal efficiency.

Staff should also be trained in upselling and cross-sell, so they can also maximize sales while minimizing queue times. As well as specific training, your staff should also be encouraged to always be proactive. If customers see apathy from your staff, it's likely to disgruntle customers and affect your levels of customer retention in the long run.

Manage customer expectations

If customers know in advance that there may be a wait, they're more likely to be patient and less likely to walk away. By managing customer expectations from the get-go, you can avoid any queue-related complaints further down the line.

Offer queue busters

Queuebusters are small, low-cost items that can help to alleviate the pain of queueing. Whether it's a complimentary drink or a voucher for their next visit, queue busters can help to sweeten the deal for customers who are stuck in a line. If you have to keep your customers waiting, at least make it appetizing - providing a high-quality queue-buster can make your patrons feel valued despite the queue.

Encourage pre-bookings

Don't have reservations about well.. reservations. By encouraging customers to pre-book their tables, you can help to reduce the number of people who are queueing on the day. This is especially effective for busy restaurants that know they're going to have a full house.

Renovate your front-of-house

If you offer both eat-in and takeaway options, it's important to have separate queueing areas for each. By renovating your front-of-house, you can create a more efficient queuing system that will help to reduce waiting times for both eat-in and takeaway customers.

In addition to queue management, you should also focus on making sure that your restaurant is clean and tidy. A cluttered restaurant is likely to result in longer queue times, as customers will take longer to peruse the menu and make their decision.

By renovating your front-of-house and queueing system, you can create a more efficient and effective dining experience for your customers.

Schedule your staff 

You can avoid the rush by scheduling more staff during your busiest times. This will help to ensure that there are enough staff members on hand to take customer orders quickly and efficiently.

In addition, you should also consider scheduling breaks for your staff members. By doing this, you can avoid having too many people on the floor at once, which can lead to longer queue times.

See your restaurant serve up success with an award-winning POS system

Epos Now offers state-of-the-art POS systems for hospitality businesses. We let you choose the tools and insights to help your business achieve its goals. Designed to work as a complete business management system, you can control all vital aspects of your company from one cloud-based system.

Receive a detailed analysis of the areas that matter to your business:

  • Review profitability reports based on individual product performance, trending items, best and worst sellers, and employee sales
  • View sales analyses on profit margin, cash flow, and other expenses
  • Review reports on peak times for better staff scheduling and floorplan management
  • Access multi-award-winning inventory management systems that sync online sales and in-person sales for the most up-to-date stock levels
  • Automate stock purchasing so you never miss a sales opportunity
  • Integrate with the business automation apps that are right for your business
  • Table management and booking system integrations available for an optimized service

If you simply can't wait to reduce the hold up for hungry customers, then we'd love to hear from you!

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