4 Tips to Maximize Table Turnover and Staff Productivity

Alyssa Fernandez

5 June 2017    |   

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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What is the Contingent Workforce and how can you leverage it in your business?

Phil caught up with the team at Sidekicker to learn more about how the contingent workforce is shaping successful workforces of the future. When we think of the contingent or temp workforce, we imagine the young Christmas casual or the temp that fills in at reception. These caricatures don’t inspire visions of influence and power and they certainly don’t appear as the kind of people that will have immense pull over the shape of the future. However, these workers are not only integral to keeping businesses moving but when they are empowered and treated right, they’re set to resculpt the entire employment landscape. What is the Contingent Workforce? Far more diverse than our initial imaginings of the temp receptionist, the contingent workforce is a subsection of the broader workforce that works flexibly. This includes casuals, contractors, and temps across a wide range of skill sets and capabilities. Contingent workers may choose to work for one business at a time or make up their working schedules across a variety of employers – but they are defined by their flexibility and impermanence. For businesses, these flexible workers solve a number of problems. From assisting in times of peak demand, covering for absent workers, lending external expertise, or allowing businesses safer, and simpler scalability, contingent workers allow businesses to improve productivity without the risk of additional permanent wages. How does the Contingent Workforce generate influence? Today, the contingent workforce makes up more than one-third of the entire AU/NZ workforce. This number is growing rapidly, and with it, the opportunity for businesses to benefit from the flexibility these workers bring. As the size and saturation of the contingent workforce grows – so too do the impacts they have on the way businesses and workers see employment. With 163,000 new contingent workers joining the workforce in recent years, and early results from 2017 showing considerable growth in both people looking for flexible opportunities, and businesses offering them – the size of this labour pool is only set to increase. Research shows that many senior HR Managers expect the contingent share of the workforce to grow to almost 50%. The bigger the size of the workforce and the more businesses that benefit, the more the impacts of bringing in contingent workers are amplified. In this way, the contingent workforce begins to exert greater influence over the working landscape. What does this power mean for the future? The impacts of this growing, flexible workforce are already beginning to manifest in a handful of ways. These considerations are integral to how flexible workers will be dealt with in future and what the landscape could look like. 1. Contingent workers are changing management styles. As more and more business engage contingent workers, they create situations where permanent and temporary staff must cooperate regularly to achieve business goals. This will force managers to reconsider the way they deal with their teams. How do you unite and motivate a team who aren’t always together? 2. Contingent workers are changing the way staff are engaged. The more the contingent workforce grows, the more it drives development of technology that supports it. As technology gets better, more and more connections between businesses and the appropriate flexible workers will happen digitally and simultaneously – making employee engagement simpler and allowing staffing managers to focus on other aspects of their role. 3. Contingent workers are changing the quality of the contingent workforce. With more businesses recognising the value in flexible engagements, the more they will engage the third party recruitment firms that know where to access them. Because it is in the best interests of these firms to present only the top-tier candidates, the overall pool of flexible workers will improve. The top-tier will build skills through constant engagement and the remaining talent will need to work to improve their performance to access opportunities. Growing at a rapid pace and picking up considerable influence, the contingent workforce is something businesses can no longer ignore. While recognising and leveraging their benefits in your business is a great first step – it’s important to understand how you will respond to the trends they are creating.   To learn more about how flexible workers are impacting the future of work, check out the Contingent Workforces eBook here.

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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.

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4 Helpful Tips for Your Restaurant Interior Design This 2018

Your restaurant interior design shouldn’t be an afterthought, and should be designed in a way that will drive more profit to your business. But how? To help you get started, here are four helpful tips to remember when designing and constructing your next restaurant. Size Matters Constructing your next restaurant starts with looking at the bare space you are going to lease or purchase. Size is everything, and you should remember to always measure twice and cut once. Total Food Service wrote an extensive guide on how to create your restaurant’s floor plan. According to them, the rule-of-thumb is that your dining space should occupy 60% of the total area, with the remaining 40% for other spaces (kitchen, prep, storage, etc.) To add to the dining space, they also provided general guidelines on how much square footage a restaurant should allocate per customer. For them, it varies based on the type of restaurant you are running: Fine Dining: 18 to 20 sq. ft. Full-Service Dining: 12 to 15 sq. ft. Counter Service: 18 to 20 sq. ft. Fast Food: 11 to 14 sq. ft. Table Service at a Hotel or Club:  15 to 18 sq. ft. ‏Banquet: 10 to 11 sq. ft. They also recommend that you should leave a minimum of 4 to 5 ft. per table to allow free movement of servers between stations. According to Tom Strother, co-founder and creative director of interior design firm Fabled Studio, ensuring that the operational layout works seamlessly and effortlessly for the waitstaff is essential in making sure that the guests have an excellent dining experience. Take this into account when preparing your restaurant interior design. Your Cuisine Determines Your Design For Strother, the first crucial thing they consider when working on a restaurant interior design is the concept and story of the restaurant, making sure that it is translated well into  the details of the design. It’s a no-brainer that your restaurant’s layout and aesthetic should reflect the type of service and cuisine you’re going to provide. The perfect restaurant design and layout is a marriage of form and function. Not only that – in the age of social media, the perfect restaurant interior design should be Instagrammable. As part of Paula Atwell’s guide on Chron, she dished out some tips on how to lay out your restaurant based on your concept and style of service: Cafeteria-style restaurants should have a circular pattern design in order to seamlessly move customers from the entrance to the service area, down to the cashier, and to their seats. Restaurants that offer tableside cooking should allocate space for supplies and a cooking surface. Take-out-heavy restaurants should layout a clear pathway from the doorway to the counter. Start (and Finish) With a Good Impression Your restaurant’s entrance is the first and last thing your customer sees. It goes without saying that it has to be downright perfect. The balance published an extensive blog entry on how to plan your restaurant’s outdoor space. Here are some key takeaways: Invest in a professionally-made sign. Likewise, make sure that other signages (parking signs, no smoking warnings, wifi information, etc.) should be professionally done as well. Don’t settle for a monochrome print out from your laser printer. Everything has to be on brand. Provide adequate lighting that both illuminates signages at night and provides a good ambience for customers. Erect menu boards outside your establishment to give customers and passers-by a good idea of what you can offer. Complement it with a separate sandwich board that lists down the specials. If possible, provide well-appointed outdoor seating as a waiting area for customers in queue. When the weather permits, expand that area to allow customers to dine al fresco. If You Can’t Stand the Heat, You Can’t Make a Good Kitchen The heart of every restaurant is the kitchen. This is where the magic happens — where raw ingredients transform into stunning dishes for your customers. That is why it is wise for you to invest most of your time and resources to constructing your restaurant’s kitchen. There are million-and-one factors to look after to construct your kitchen. POS Sector’s blog has a definitive article on the topic. Some of the best tips they gave are: Involve your kitchen staff — the ones who will use the facility on a daily basis — in the design and planning process. Your dishwasher might have insights and perspectives that a regular plumber cannot provide. Your kitchen should be ergonomic, energy efficient, well-ventilated, and (most of all) compliant with all health and safety regulations. Don’t scrimp on kitchen equipment. Procure tools that are professional-grade. Make sure that the layout is flexible, able to easily adjust itself for the future. Define working zones: food cleaning, cutting, baking, frying, etc. This streamlines the entire process and avoids unnecessary chaos, especially at peak hours. Store tools and appliances that serve similar functions together. Your restaurant interior design definitely plays a role in your business’ profitability. Make sure that it embodies your concept and story enough to attract customers. It should also have an operational layout that works seamlessly for your waitstaff. Finally, it should enrich your guests’ dining experience. Pair that up with great food and excellent service, and you’ll see your customers coming back to your restaurant over and over again.

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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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