4 Tips to Maximize Table Turnover and Staff Productivity

Alyssa Fernandez

26 March 2018    |   

The pressure is on to maximize table turnover and your entire staff’s productivity at your restaurant: on one end, you have no empty tables with more customers hanging out outside or by the bar, waiting to be served. On the other, your team is pushed to serve every dish and bus out every plate as soon as possible so that other people can enjoy what you have to offer. Peak times are a double-edged sword for restaurateurs. The quicker your service during peak hours, the higher the revenue you will generate. Here are 3 tips on how restaurateurs can maximize table turnover and increase in staff productivity during peak hours: Train Hosts and Servers to Communicate When hosts and servers communicate effectively, an organized seating and reservation system for your restaurant will be possible. With it, you’ll avoid having tables sitting idly for 5-10 minutes after it’s cleaned. To avoid lost productivity during peak hours, train your hosts to pre-assign tables to those who are in line. Apart from that, you should also train your servers to signal the busser to clear off the tables as soon as the check is collected, and let the hosts know that their table will be ready for the next guest shortly. When communication between hosts and servers is constant and clear, guests who are next in line would be seated almost immediately. Serve Them Immediately National Restaurant Consultants president David Kincheloe says that you’d want to have a table turn three times during a 5-10 P.M. dinner period. The best way to do so is not by rushing your customers to leave, but by ensuring that service is swift during peak hours for a quicker table turnover. Maximize table turnover by making sure that servers arrive at their assigned tables within a minute after customers are seated. Have them serve water and take drink orders immediately. Ask customers if they have dined at the restaurant before. If so, just give them a quick refresher on the menu instead of the full rundown. If there’s a large party seated (usually six people or more), have two or more servers assigned to the table so that you can get orders quicker. Bus Out Like Clockwork Instruct busboys to clear off plates as soon as customers finish their meals, but of course, in a way that won’t seem like you’re rushing them. Don’t wait for your customers to ask for the check. Have servers ask if they want the check already as soon as they are finishing up their dessert. Make sure pre-rolled silverware are on standby. This allows you to reset tables as quickly as possible, and therefore, maximize table turnover. Leverage More Technology for the Restaurant Consider using more tech solutions for your restaurant to not just simply stand out, but also become more efficient. Install seat charting software to track seating plans and reservations. Use a tablet-based menu system (such as Ziosk) and contactless payment solutions so that customers can order and pay even without the servers. And beyond the front-of-house, leveraging on agile, cloud-based workforce management solutions to track attendance and manage shift schedules, among other things. Peak hours should always be a welcome sight for your restaurant business. Following these tips will ensure that you’ll get the most out of your staff and business during these special times of the day.

The pressure is on to maximize table turnover and your entire staff’s productivity at your restaurant: on one end, you have no empty tables with more customers hanging out outside or by the bar, waiting to be served. On the other, your team is pushed to serve every dish and bus out every plate as soon as possible so that other people can enjoy what you have to offer.

4 Tips to Maximize Table Turnover and Staff Productivity

Peak times are a double-edged sword for restaurateurs. The quicker your service during peak hours, the higher the revenue you will generate. Here are 3 tips on how restaurateurs can maximize table turnover and increase in staff productivity during peak hours:

1

Train Hosts and Servers to Communicate

When hosts and servers communicate effectively, an organized seating and reservation system for your restaurant will be possible. With it, you’ll avoid having tables sitting idly for 5-10 minutes after it’s cleaned.

To avoid lost productivity during peak hours, train your hosts to pre-assign tables to those who are in line. Apart from that, you should also train your servers to signal the busser to clear off the tables as soon as the check is collected, and let the hosts know that their table will be ready for the next guest shortly.

When communication between hosts and servers is constant and clear, guests who are next in line would be seated almost immediately.

2

Serve Them Immediately

National Restaurant Consultants president David Kincheloe says that you’d want to have a table turn three times during a 5-10 P.M. dinner period. The best way to do so is not by rushing your customers to leave, but by ensuring that service is swift during peak hours for a quicker table turnover.

Maximize table turnover by making sure that servers arrive at their assigned tables within a minute after customers are seated. Have them serve water and take drink orders immediately. Ask customers if they have dined at the restaurant before. If so, just give them a quick refresher on the menu instead of the full rundown. If there’s a large party seated (usually six people or more), have two or more servers assigned to the table so that you can get orders quicker.

3

Bus Out Like Clockwork

Instruct busboys to clear off plates as soon as customers finish their meals, but of course, in a way that won’t seem like you’re rushing them.

Don’t wait for your customers to ask for the check. Have servers ask if they want the check already as soon as they are finishing up their dessert. Make sure pre-rolled silverware are on standby. This allows you to reset tables as quickly as possible, and therefore, maximize table turnover.

4

Leverage More Technology for the Restaurant

Consider using more tech solutions for your restaurant to not just simply stand out, but also become more efficient.

Install seat charting software to track seating plans and reservations. Use a tablet-based menu system (such as Ziosk) and contactless payment solutions so that customers can order and pay even without the servers. And beyond the front-of-house, leveraging on agile, cloud-based workforce management solutions to track attendance and manage shift schedules, among other things.

Peak hours should always be a welcome sight for your restaurant business. Following these tips will ensure that you’ll get the most out of your staff and business during these special times of the day.

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Ensure Enough Coverage for Your Restaurant at Any Given Time

Traffic at a restaurant ebbs and flows with the times. One moment you’ll only have a handful of patrons, the next an avalanche of customers are queuing at the entrance, waiting to be served. From being overstaffed at a certain time period, suddenly your wait staff are juggling multiple tables while tickets are lining up like crazy at the kitchen. How do you effectively plan your coverage so that you get the most out of the staff that you have? Forecast Sales and Traffic First things first, of course, is that you have to effectively forecast your restaurant’s sales and traffic at any given day. It might not be an exact science, but Bplans has an in-depth article that can guide you in creating a clear sales forecast. In summary, the article advises that you calculate the number of meals your restaurant can serve based on the number of tables and seats. Multiply those meals based on the amount of service at any given time (in their example, it’s one service during lunch and two services for dinner). Then vary it based on assumptions per day or week (maybe less on Mondays and more on the weekends). And finally, line it up in a spreadsheet. Determine Your FTEs, Make Sure That You Have 2 FTEs more In Any Given Shift So, you have a good sales projection available. Now, it’s time to review your staffing and check if you have enough of everyone for any given shift. It all boils down to the FTEs. FTE stands for “full-time equivalent,” or the number of hours a full-time employee can render in a week. According to this article from TheRestaurantExpert.com, back-of-house employees have 40 hours in one FTE. Those on the front-of-house, on the other hand, have five shifts in one FTE. The same article deep dives on ensuring that your restaurant has enough people through FTEs. Long story short: they recommend to always have two FTEs more than your forecast dictates so that you have enough people covering the restaurant. With that as a rule-of-thumb, you can be creative with your staffing. Cross-train staff so that they can do more than one task. Have bartenders also learn how to cook simple dishes or have new wait staff also cover bussing or washing dishes. Craft Your Rota Once everything is set, it’s time for you to make the weekly rota. Make this task quicker for you by leveraging online rota software that replaces the old-school way of using whiteboards or Excel spreadsheets. Take into consideration your staff’s leave request vis-à-vis your traffic. Remember to send the weekly shift schedule to your staff at least two weeks in advance so that your team is well in the know when they have to time in. Whether you’re a start-up restaurateur or a veteran with a dozen restaurants under your belt, ensuring coverage can make you have sleepless nights. But with a proper plan that you consistently execute and fine-tune, your customers are guaranteed enjoy great service any time of the day.

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5 Restaurant Hiring Mistakes You Should NEVER Make

A restaurant’s X factor is the people running it. With that, it’s important to make sure that you’re not making any mistakes when hiring for your restaurant. You might be plating up great food every day, but it won’t lead to rave reviews online if your staff aren’t up to par. To help you out in creating the perfect team for your restaurant, we’ve listed down the top 5 hiring mistakes you should avoid at all costs when recruiting new staff. Not Having a Clear-Cut Job Description You may think filling out job descriptions for your restaurant is a piece of cake, but it’s not. Neglecting to be clear-cut during this process will bite you back in the end. When starting the hiring process, you should dedicate a lot of time in creating your staff’s job descriptions. Make sure you be as precise as possible when listing out your personnel’s tasks. “It’s not just ‘here’s a job, you’re a server and you sell food,’” David Scott Peters of TheRestaurantExpert.com said in this video. According to him, the job description of a restaurant server or waiter should look something like this: He or she is expected to greet customers within two minutes He or she should introduce himself or herself then take an appetizer order They should be back within two minutes to take your customer’s order Within five minutes, the order should be in the POS with 100% accuracy And so on, and so forth The job description should not just identify what the job is. It should indicate how to do the job, how well the job should be done, and by when the job should be done. Not Using Referrals So you’ve made comprehensive job descriptions and posted it on your company website, on social media, or at recruitment sites. But solely relying on these channels can only go so far in ensuring that your restaurant has high-quality staff. According to this article from ERE Media, those hired using employee referrals are more likely to stay on board beyond two years than those hired from job boards or career sites. Having an excellent employee referral program within your restaurant pays dividends to both management and staff. According to this article from the National Restaurant Association, team members are highly motivated when there is a referral system in place. Starbucks recruiting manager Tom Tice adds that “the real value is that they’re getting good people to work aside.” Referrals are not just limited to existing employees. The same NRA article also advocates for “second-interview referrals.” Encourage existing candidates to bring in someone they know on their second interview to fill in other open positions. Chances are, they’ll bring someone good to impress you. Hiring Those Who Don’t Fit In With the Culture It goes without saying that a restaurant should run a tight ship. Peak hours mean cooks churning out dish after dish like clockwork, waiters rushing from kitchen to table every so often, and hosts patiently accommodating those waiting to be served. It could be an extremely stressful environment that leads to a lot of personal squabbles at the heat of the moment. This is exactly why your restaurant staff should have excellent rapport bound by common culture. For celebrity chef-restaurateur and the host of Vice TV’s Fresh Off the Boat Eddie Huang, what he wants in his restaurant are people with a sense of humor. “It translates into great customer service,” he says. “It also helps contribute to the vibe of the restaurant. TheRestaurantExpert.com’s David Scott Peters’ video from earlier also talks about how important culture is in a restaurant. For him, he’d hire someone for culture over experience. Peters added that it’s easy for him to teach someone how to count out a bar drawer. But he can’t get employees “to show up and smile every day.” “If you are not a fit for my culture, you’re going to be a cancer in my business,” he says. Not Doing Interviews the Right Way It’s easy to hire the wrong person when you think of the interview process as just a formality. It goes without saying that there is more to a candidate than just what they look like on paper. It is during the interview phase you’ll be able to find out if they’re compatible with the job description and the culture you are building in your restaurant. All you need to do is do it right. Typsy has an article with tips on hiring and keeping restaurant staff. Inside it is a list of questions that you can use for your next interview. Some of the questions we highly recommend are: What do you think is most important when dealing with customers? How do you cope with stressful situations? What would you do if you got 30 minutes of downtime? What kind of work environment do you shine in? What’s your own favourite restaurant? What do you like about the industry? What is something you didn’t like about your last job? What are your expectations of this position? To further help you nail the interview process, the NRA also has an article with tips on the right way to interview the candidate. Neglecting to Call References and Doing Background Checks You might have to hire from all walks of life: from culinary school graduates to part-time high-school students. You need to know for sure that they can be trusted with your business. Calling upon references and doing background checks is one sure-fire way to give you that peace of mind when hiring your restaurant’s staff. Opentable recommends that you ask each candidate to provide three professional references when they apply. Make sure that at least two of three people named get back at you before moving forward with the application process. For those who are going to handle money on a daily basis, such as servers and managers, a quick background check is crucial to find out their credibility based on their previous work history and other factors. Having the right people on your staff is the key ingredient for every successful restaurant. And being careless on the hiring stage will guarantee a difficult time for you in the long run. Make sure to avoid these mistakes and set your A-team’s rota the right way to ensure your restaurant is a well-oiled machine any time of the day.

Industry Insights UK    |   

Top 5 Digital Restaurant Marketing Tools You Need (2018 Update)

In today’s restaurant marketing, digital marketing is the name of the game. If you want to succeed in the restaurant industry, billboards and newspaper ads will no longer cut it. QSR Web reported that 2017 would be the year of digital marketing for restaurants. If you weren’t able to keep up with it last year, don’t worry! 2018 doesn’t look to be any different either according to Eagle Eye. The reports also noted that more restaurants are increasing their digital marketing spend. The numbers don’t lie. If you want to be at the top of the game in the food service business, you need to be able to adjust to the times and use digital marketing tools that will help you get a leg up on the competition. Here are 5 tools that will help your restaurant get ahead of the curve and succeed in the digital marketing space: Website Maker / Content Management System According to SinglePlatform and research firm Chadwick Martin, restaurants are the single most searched industry online — both on desktop and mobile browsers. That means that having a website for your restaurant is equivalent to having a good first impression in today’s digital marketplace. In a Huffington Post article, ChowNow founder Christopher Webb broke down what an effective restaurant website looks like: Creating a website for your restaurant may be an intimidating task, but worry not! You don’t necessarily need to learn how to code or hire someone to design and run your website. There are numerous website makers and content management systems available that handles everything from domain name registration, down to scheduled blog posting. Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace all offer easy-to-use website management solutions. Social Media Management Applications Just like having your own website, having a strong social media presence is an absolute must for every restaurant who wants to up their restaurant marketing game. According to Sprout’s Q3 2016 Social Index, three-quarters of the people surveyed “purchased a product because they saw it on social media.” What this means is if you’re not visibly active on social media, you’re missing out on a large customer base. An excellent social media strategy for your restaurant marketing is one that involves engaging with your customers all the time. The sky’s the limit when thinking about ways you can use social media to promote your restaurant. Kairay Media has 30 tips on social media marketing for restaurants – here are our top seven favorites and takeaways from that list: Create your own and ride on trending hashtags Conduct photo contests Reward customer check-ins Post videos — especially those of chefs preparing your restaurant’s best-selling menu items Keep it fun and friendly — there’s no need to be serious Post images with relevant quotes Encourage customers to post reviews A dedicated social media manager can be a valuable member of your restaurant. But you or someone else from your existing team can handle this task just as well. It’s all about scheduling posts well in advance, ensuring that your restaurant’s social media accounts have fresh content every single day. Hootsuite is the market leader in social media management applications. It not only lets you schedule posts way in advance for multiple accounts, but it also gives you real-time customer insights. Email Marketing Solutions Some people might take it for granted, but email can have a huge impact on your restaurant’s digital marketing efforts. According to a 2015 report from the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing can have a return on investment (ROI) of $38 for every $1 spent. That’s almost one entrée earned for every dollar spent. Beyond the simple weekly newsletter, there are a lot of ways you can incorporate the use of emails in your restaurant marketing. Turnstyle has a deep-dive guide on the topic. Out of the numerous suggestions given, here are some we liked: Announce new items, as well as those that you’re about to take out of the menu. Both will draw loyal customers back to your restaurant in no time Send out invites for upcoming events, especially during holidays Share recipes created by your chefs Conduct surveys to get more insights from your customers Send special email messages for customers who haven’t visited your restaurant for a long time (30 to 90 days) On a customer’s birthday, make sure you send them a “happy birthday” email message MailChimp and Campaign Monitor are the top-of-mind solutions for email marketing. Intercom can also do email marketing, as well as other customer relationship management features. Online Table Reservations Since the 20th century, customers have either called or walked in advance at a restaurant to place a reservation. Restaurateurs, in turn, jot their names on the reservation book and wait for their arrival on the day itself. Who would’ve thought that taking this task to the digital age can also be an effective restaurant marketing technique? Online table reservation sites are taking the restaurant industry by storm. These companies perfectly cater to the growing millennial market by letting them reserve a table at any restaurant through the web or a mobile application. This makes the whole process quick and easy. Other benefits of using online table reservations for restaurant reservations are: Removing the old-school, paper-based reservation book with the online reservation system easily integrated with your restaurant’s PoS Have a more detailed account of the upcoming forecast, giving you the ability to better manage your inventory and staff shift schedules Get recognized by more people as your restaurant is listed on their site Opentable is the company that first comes to mind when talking about online table reservations. Its Airbnb-like system makes it easy for customers to book. It also can be integrated into a restaurant’s PoS or your restaurant’s existing website with a widget. Yelp now also has its own reservations service that is integrated within its review platform. Online Reviews Speaking of Yelp. Yes, it can be the bane of your restaurant, but online reviews are important in the customer’s decision-making. According to a BrightLocal report, 84% of people surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And that same report noted that 7 out of 10 consumers will review a business if they are asked to. Serving great food and delivering excellent table service is the key for a good reputation for your restaurant. But that has to translate to tons of reviews online. The Toast Blog shared 4 ways to improve how your restaurant performs on online review sites: Promote your restaurants beyond liking on Facebook or following on Twitter. Tell them that they can check out your restaurant on Yelp or TripAdvisor Ask (or invite) your customers to review your restaurant. You can do it after they’ve settled the check, or through email Create a dedicated landing page on your website just for reviews, featuring sample entries from previous customers Conduct a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey to sift the promoters from the detractors In today’s world, what you and your customer say online is as good as gospel. That is why it is important for any restaurateur to invest in restaurant marketing – especially in their digital marketing. By using these online marketing tools, we guarantee that your restaurant will get more customers at any time of the day.

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About the author

Alyssa Fernandez

Alyssa Paula is a left-handed creative based in Manila. Having a knack for design, branding, and copywriting, she creates tasteful graphics and copy, and develops marketing strategies for Tanda, the world's #1 workforce success platform.

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