7 Absolute Ways for Speeding Up Table Turnover Without Hurting Customer Experience
A restaurant's table turnover rate is one of the most critical metrics for a successful dining experience.
Restaurants that struggle to maintain an average table turnover time often have long wait times and low guest satisfaction ratings.
Although TTR or Table Turnover Rate is crucial for any restaurant owner, many owners don't pay enough attention to this rate.
Having an average restaurant table turnover rate can help your bottom line by ensuring that guests are satisfied with their dining experience. However, having a high TTR can lead to an unmanageable number of occupied tables at once. That leads to longer wait times for new diners and frustrated servers in the weeds.
But there are plenty of ways to improve your table turnover rate without compromising any of those things. All it takes is a little creativity!
This post will go over some easy tweaks to help you turn around your restaurant's luck in no time.
- Let a Designated Server Greet and Seat Guests
- Develop a Good Communication Strategy
- Make sure your Menu isn't Too Long
- Optimize Table Size
- Use a Wait List Display Board
- Make sure your Kitchen isn't Backed Up
- Don't Rush Your Guests Out of their Seats
Top 7 Ways to Speed Up Table Turnover
1. Let a Designated Server Greet and Seat Guests
Step back and let your servers do their job.
Having a host or maître d' greet guests and take them to the table themselves may seem like an antiquated practice, but it's one of the best ways to get tables turned quickly in your restaurant.
A designated server whose only responsibility is to greet and seat guests can nip problems in the bud before they even start.
Suppose your front-of-house staff is free to mingle with guests while a server plays host. In that case, the chances are that you'll run into some hiccups when it comes time to take orders. In addition, your servers will likely be helping out at the bar or bussing tables while the first course is coming out to your diners, resulting in a longer table turn.
Just putting one server on the task of greeting and seating guests can shave up to 20 minutes off of a single table's turnaround time!
2. Develop a Good Communication Strategy
Keeping your staff in the loop is critical if you want to optimize your table turnover rate.
Even experienced servers can slip up sometimes. For example, they may arrive at a table only to discover that they've been given the wrong order or that there's been some other kind of mistake.
But when your entire restaurant staff is well-versed in the table turn process, and everyone is on the same page about what it means to work quickly, such issues are less likely to happen.
A clear communication strategy for your staff is essential to keep your TTRs up and ensure that guests receive prompt service!
Read Also: 12 Restaurant Management Tips to Get Happy Employees and a Successful Business
3. Make Sure Your Menu isn't too Long
A lengthy menu can be a blessing in many ways. It gives you more to choose from, lets you offer more options than other restaurants nearby, and helps build trust with guests who feel like they're getting their money's worth.
But if you've been around the business long enough, I'm sure you've seen what happens when a restaurant has too many items on its menu.
It's easy for customers to get confused about which item is which, leading to slower orders.
What’s the solution? Look at your current menu and strike out any items that aren't selling well or are of lesser quality than the rest of your menu.
If you eliminate low-selling items from your menu, you can free up precious space for other options. In addition, when customers know exactly what they're getting, it makes the order-taking process go much more smoothly.
4. Optimize Table Size
When was the last time you checked your table sizes and adjusted them for optimal flow?
If you have a three-top that could fit into a two, or if you have 10-tops squeezed together so tightly that you're not able to serve guests efficiently, it may be time to rethink your arrangement.
This tip is essential if you've noticed that customers wait longer for their food after getting seated. Sometimes, moving tables around can provide a massive boost to your TTRs just by letting you serve guests more quickly!
5. Use a Wait List Display Board
Keep your guests informed to keep them waiting less.
The way we see it, there's no reason why you shouldn't have a waitlist display board in your restaurant. These boards are essentially the same as those little chalkboards that you usually use at home to notify kids of family dinners. They are also a standard accessory for organizing sale events.
A waitlist display board is an easy way to let people know that other customers need the seat they are holding. When you consider that one of the most important factors for guests when determining whether or not their experience was positive was ‘the pace at which we were served,’ it makes sense to notify patrons when they can expect to be seated.
Are you playing host at your restaurant? Check out this post to learn a few different ways you can make the most of your waitlist display board!
6. Make sure your Kitchen isn't Backed Up
After seating your guests, the second part of a good table turn is quickly getting their food out to them, which means keeping tabs on what's happening in your Kitchen. If you notice that tables are waiting longer than usual for their food once you seat them, there can be a problem in the Kitchen!
If you're having trouble with backed-up orders and long wait times, try one of these strategies to get guests fed quickly:
Change your Plate Sizes
If your restaurant has large plate sizes, it could fill up many more tables than intended for each meal. So, naturally, that causes delays that lead to longer waits for customers.
Use a Prep Station
This strategy is another way to help you serve food quickly. That's because it allows chefs to make sure all their dishes are ready in good time instead of rushing later to prepare orders.
Create an Assembly Line in the Kitchen
If there's only one cook and one waiter, the cook should prepare a dish while the waiter prepares the next. This way, there's no need to run back and forth from the cookline to the dining room!
7. Don't Rush Your Guests Out of their Seats
Just because you provide excellent service and delicious food to your customers, it doesn’t mean that your guests are ready to leave. Some may be looking forward to ordering more items. If they haven't asked for the cheque yet, don't rush them out the door!
If there's a table taking up space but isn't ordering anything, don't kick them out. Instead, ask them politely if the guests are waiting for more members to arrive.
Even if they don’t want to tell you, offering them a complimentary appetizer or coffee is a great way to thank them for choosing your restaurant.
The key to a good restaurant experience is table turnover. Once you have these simple strategies in place, your customers will be able to enjoy their time at your restaurant and revisit for another excellent meal!