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.
Table Turnover Rate (TTR) is one of the most critical metrics for any restaurant owner – and yet, so many owners don't pay enough attention to their TTRs.
Having an average restaurant table turnover rate can help your bottom line by ensuring that guests are satisfied with their dining experience, but having too high of a TTR can lead to an unmanageable number of tables being occupied at once, leading 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!
In this post, we'll go over some easy tweaks you can make to turn around your restaurant's luck in no time at all!
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 actually one of the keys to getting tables turned quickly in your establishment.
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 - 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 seat guests can shave up to 20 minutes off of any single table's turnaround time!
Keeping your staff in the loop is critical if you want to optimize your table turnover rate.
Even experienced servers can slip up sometimes - arriving 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, those kinds of issues are less likely to happen.
A clear communication strategy for staff is essential if you want to keep your TTRs up and ensure that guests are receiving prompt service!
A lengthy menu can be a blessing in many ways - it gives you more to choose from, it lets you offer more options than other restaurants nearby, and it 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 slow order taking.
The solution? Take a 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 - and when customers know exactly what they're getting, it makes the order taking process go much more smoothly.
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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 are waiting 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!
Keep your guests informed - and keep them waiting less.
The way we see it, there's no reason why you shouldn't have a Wait List Display Board in your restaurant. These boards are essentially the same as those little chalkboards that you might use at home to notify kids of family dinners or during sale events.
Still, restaurants can play a significant role in keeping customers from having to wait too long.
A Wait List Display Board is an easy way to let people know that the seat they've been holding is about to be up!
And 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 just makes sense to notify patrons when they can expect to be seated.
Playing host at your restaurant? Check out this post to learn a few different ways you can make the most of your Wait List Display Board!
After seating your guests, the second part of a good table turn is getting their food out to them quickly - and that means keeping tabs on what's happening in your kitchen.
If you notice that tables are waiting longer than usual for their food after you've seated them, there could 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:
If your restaurant has large plate sizes, it could be filling up a lot more tables than intended for each meal - causing delays that lead to longer waits for customers.
This is another strategy that can help you serve food quickly because it allows chefs to make sure all of their dishes are ready in good time instead of rushing later to prepare orders.
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!
Just because you've given them excellent service and delicious food doesn't mean that your guests are ready to leave now - some might even still be working on their meal. If they haven't asked for the check yet, don't rush them out the door!
And if there's a table who's taking up space but isn't ordering anything, don't kick them out - because it could just be someone waiting for a guest to arrive.
Even if they didn't have the courtesy to inform you that they're still here, send them an appetizer or dessert on the house!
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 establishment and come back again for another great meal!
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