How to Reduce Restaurant Wait Times
“Slow service” is one of the last things restaurateurs want to hear about their own business. In an industry where it is critical to operate quickly and efficiently, nothing damages your reputation like long wait times. It doesn’t matter that your food and the service to go with it were both excellent—if your customers had to wait a long time for it, that’s all they’ll remember.
Customers who experience long wait times at your restaurant are likely to tell their friends, family, and even social media about it. To avoid this reputational blow, it’s important to try new methods to reduce the amount of time customers spend waiting in-house. To achieve this, many restaurateurs are turning to technology solutions.
During peak restaurant hours, sometimes there aren’t enough employees in-house to take customer orders, often doubling wait times as customers have to wait to be serviced on top of waiting for their food to be prepared. Most customers understand they’ll have to wait some amount of time for their order to be completed, but when they have to wait for their order to be taken, they quickly become frustrated and feel like they’re wasting their time.
A great way to address this issue is by implementing self-service kiosks. While they can’t wholly replace employees, self-service kiosks can perform basic employee tasks, including taking orders. Instead of waiting for a server to take their order, customers can walk to a self-service kiosk to place their order themselves. Further, when kiosks are integrated with a restaurant’s POS system, orders are sent directly to the kitchen for immediate preparation. Especially helpful to customers in a rush who are looking to place a small order quickly, self-service kiosks are sure to reduce restaurant wait times.
In addition to self-service kiosks, restaurants can also introduce online ordering as a way to reduce wait times. Perfect for customers who would rather order their meals on-the-go or from the comfort of their homes, online ordering allows customers to opt-out of in-house wait times altogether. Once they place their order online through their computer or mobile device, they can do what they please until their order is ready for pickup.
Online ordering on its own doesn’t wholly eradicate wait times, however. Sometimes when customers pick up an online order, they have to wait behind others who have also ordered online. To limit in-house wait times even further, restaurants can offer a delivery option with their online ordering service. This allows customers to spend less time in restaurants and provides them with a convenient experience free of in-house wait times.
Tableside Ordering and Payment
While dining at a restaurant, nothing is worse than waiting forever for your meal. With technology such as tableside ordering, customer orders can be taken tableside by staff and sent directly to the kitchen. This eliminates the need for servers to travel to a standard POS station and manually enter orders. Tableside ordering also increases order accuracy, cutting down on errors that might result in remade meals, leading to even more waiting.
Perhaps worse than waiting for the meal is waiting forever for the bill. In addition to tableside ordering, tableside payment can offer a speedier checkout. Instead of waiting for the server to drop off the check, collect cards, process them, and bring them back, the payment process can occur tableside within one visit. This gives customers more control over when they leave, as they don’t have to rely as heavily on the server to get them out of the door.
Long wait times can easily ruin the customer experience and leave them with a negative impression of your establishment. With these technologies at your disposal, you can do everything in your power to streamline operations, reduce wait times, and increase customer satisfaction. NCC provides these restaurant solutions and more. Contact our team of experts today to get started on optimizing your restaurant operations.