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The Xmas Files: Improving the speed of service


Christmas is rapidly approaching. Tumultuous office parties, after works drinks and boozy family gathering will be well under way now December’s come around. Getting people in and out with speed and precision is essential to a successful festive season. Restaurants, gastropubs and bars serving food need to focus on streamlining service in order to maximise the benefits of the additional custom they're experiencing this Christmas.


The average restaurant has a wait time accounting for up to 6.6 hours a week. This equates to over 2 weeks a year of lost opportunity and revenue! This is only highlighted with the increased footfall Christmas brings. A well-paced service guarantees a good customer experience ensuring they return in the new year, as well as increasing the number of potential customers that come through the door. There are a number of ways to optimise service in your hospitality business.

The Xmas Files: Improving the speed of service

Menu

Menus should be clear, easy to read and structured in a way that is simple to follow. If your customers have to pour over pages of jumbled dishes this will add additional wait time onto every table. Having hundreds of dishes can dilute the quality of your menu, while putting undue pressure on kitchen staff. Don’t be tempted to be a jack of all trades... it’s better to be a master of some, than none.

Clarity and transparency are key. Make sure all allergen information and accompanying dishes are readily available and clear to see. This can reduce time spent clarifying with the wait staff.

The Xmas Files: Improving the speed of service

Staff

There are dozens of moving cogs in a restaurant environment and having a well-trained workforce is essential to keeping wheels turning smoothly. Floor staff are the bridge between the kitchen and the customer. To provide a great service waiting staff must be knowledgeable. They should know the menu inside out, dietary requirements, complimentary dishes and what drinks are available, table numbers, use of the EPOS system and the way in which service runs.Consider service a performance and your staff are the actors. When the curtain goes up they need to know their lines. This includes upselling specials, offering sauces, drinks and conducting check back at the specific points throughout the meal. A comprehensive structured training programme will ensure your staff are confident and comfortable in most eventualities.

Having the right number of employees on shift is also a key requirement. Some small businesses try to get by on a skeleton staff in order to save on wages. This can be counterproductive as its puts excessive pressure on the employees who are there and service can suffer as a result. Things get missed, or take longer than expected and customers can sense when staff are under pressure, all things not conducive to a relaxing dining experience.

The Xmas Files: Improving the speed of service

EPOS

Epos systems are the beating heart of your business and when used correctly can facilitate a faster more efficient service. Reducing the number of steps between first contact and ultimately handing over the receipt, is key to improving the overall speed of service.

Many chains provide their floor staff with tablets to take orders at the table. This is because the order can be input on the system and sent to the kitchen before the waiter has even left the table side. Tablets can be programmed to include prompts for certain items and up sell options, reducing missed upsell opportunities. They also allow staff members to easily identify products out of stock, to avoid any disappointment or embarrassment later in service. The floor staff can also take payments at the table. This means employees needn’t go back and forth between the till and the table or uproot the customers to pay on their way out or risk them leaving without paying.

EPOS systems have erased the need for illegible hand written notes, time clarifying with the front of house staff and lost carbon copies at the height of service. Notes can be added to the system to include additional information for the kitchen or bar staff ‘nut allergy’, ‘no lime’. Epos Now ensures all systems sync automatically. This means when one server updates a table on their tablet, it will appear on all tablets and terminals immediately, ensuring table information is up to date and accurate at all times. This information can be designated to different areas within the restaurant which reduces miscommunication, confused orders and means the kitchen section and bar can begin preparing orders immediately.

Staff training is often the lengthiest process when implementing an EPOS system. Athena is Epos Now’s most significant software release to date. It’s logical intuitive interface means employees can be taught how to use the system in minutes. Cutting training times is ideal at Christmas when many businesses look to hire additional staff.

The Xmas Files: Improving the speed of service

Floorplan

Can you optimise space to maximise profits? More seats mean's more covers, and this equates to more sales (if you can get bums on seats). Any unnecessary furniture such as waiting stations containing salt, pepper,menus ect should be kept out of the dining room where possible to free up space. Bench seating along walls, use of restaurant booths and use of smaller tables that can be moved together to create larger tables, are all ways to maximise use of space.

Small dining rooms benefit from a cosy intimate feel but this quickly evaporates when piling customers on top of one another. It’s also important to make sure waiting staff have enough space to safely manoeuvre between tables during service.

Conclusion

Bottlenecks in service are often due to ineffective design and procedures. Nearly a third of restaurants experience wait times of over 40 minutes. This inefficiency breeds dissatisfaction amongst your customers, risking complaints, damaging your reputation and profits. By reevaluating your service procedures and introducing a quality EPOS solution you can reduce pressure on staff and improve your customer experience, ensuring you retain their custom well into the new year.



AUTHOR

Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.



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