How to Improve Table Turnover With Restaurant Software

The National Restaurant Association estimates that one in three restaurants will fail within their first year. Though there are a million ways for a restaurant to fail, there is really only one way for them to succeed – by turning as many tables as possible.

Fortunately, there is a way to improve the turnover rate of your restaurant and maximize the number of customers you serve in a day. This table management strategy guide has everything you need to turn more tables and find the best seating software for your restaurant.

How Do Restaurants Manage Tables

Many factors contribute to the approximate 30% failure rate of restaurants in their first year. Unfortunately, many of those factors (like poor economic conditions and a debilitating pandemic) are beyond your control.

Fortunately, there is a way to insulate your restaurant from certain factors and increase your likelihood of success. It’s called table management.

Table Management: A Recipe for Success

Start by pairing great food with a winning concept, a viable location and good business sense. Add a table management strategy that enables your team to turn tables faster than the competition. Top it all off with a process to effectively seat guests, take and serve orders, and keep your guests happy for the duration of their meal.

If you think all of that seems like a lot to manage, then you are not alone. Managing a restaurant is hard enough without the added complications of keeping the lights on, paying your staff and marketing your brand.

Fortunately, most restaurant POS systems now include table management software or pair with third-party apps that help you manage seating, calculate table turnover rate, and improve table turnaround times.

12 Ways to Increase Table Turnover in Your Restaurant

Table management software makes it easier for your team to seat guest, turn tables and improve table turn around time, but it doesn’t make your guests happy. That’s up to your servers. Fortunately, there are 12 things you can do to not only turn tables faster, but also keep your guests happy for the duration of their meal.

Greet Tables Immediately

One way to ensure faster table turnaround time is to train your staff to greet tables immediately, and seat them as quickly as possible. Customers do not enjoy standing around when they can see empty tables.

Industry standards even recommend that servers greet guests within one minute of being seated at their table. Servers should also take drink orders with in the first few minutes, and food orders within the first ten minutes.

Servers who master this process shave minutes off their table times, and increase the rate at which new tables are sat in their section. The more tables a server can turn in their section, the more money they make in tips. Servers who make great tips, have running incentive to provide quality service to your guests.

That said, you should never sacrifice the guest experience to increase your table turnaround times especially in fine dining establishments where guests enjoy chatting before and after the meal.

Ask Customers if They’ve Been Here Before

You can improve table turnaround time without sacrificing the guest experience is to ask customers if they’ve dined with you before. If the guest has dined with you before, there is no need to repeat the entire menu. Your servers can immediately ask if the guest would like to order, saving the time they would have spent on their spiel.

Limit the Size of the Menu

Limiting the size of your menu makes it easier for customers to decide and order faster. A smaller menu is also easier for servers to remember and less likely to overwhelm guests. If guest are still unsure, servers should recommend an item that takes less time to prepare.

Assign Multiple Servers to Large Tables

Parties of eight or more can overwhelm a single server especially on busy nights. Servers “in the weeds” are more likely to make mistakes, which increase table turnaround time and decrease customer satisfaction.

You can mitigate these negative situations by assigning multiple servers to tables of eight or more. Doing so makes it easier for servers to be more attentive to the customer’s needs and move the dining process along faster.

Staff should also rapidly clear finished dishes instead of waiting until all guests have left the table. This enables a quicker clean-up and turnover of the table and makes your establishment more efficient.

Drop Off The Check Before The End of The Meal

Another way to improve table turnover is to train your servers to drop off the check prior to the end of the meal. During busy weekday lunches, many customers appreciate the urgency. Just be sure that you ask customers whether or not they’d like to order anything else so they don’t feel rushed.

Don’t Serve Incomplete Parties

Restaurants that serve incomplete parties throw off the cadence of the kitchen, but also the servers who must accommodate guests finishing their meals at separate times. The best way to avoid that scenario is to decline to serve incomplete parties. Instead of serving incomplete parties, train your staff to recommend that guests enjoy the bar until their full party arrives.

Entice Customers to Leave Tables and Try the Bar

Many guests like to linger and enjoy a drink after their meal. You should encourage this behavior, but only in the bar. You can turn more tables by enticing your guests to buy a drink or a small dessert at the bar instead of at the table.

Activate Online Ordering for Dine-In Customers

Restaurants that accept online orders can use the same app as a dine-in feature to take orders faster and without much hassle. This is particularly useful in the COVID era because it limits interaction between your staff and customers.

Consider Pay-At-Table Technology

Pay-at-the-table technology enables customers to pay their bill in one easy step, saving your servers multiple trips to and from the POS terminal. Pay-at-the-table technology also makes it easier for guests to split checks on their own, saving your team the time and hassle of doing it themselves.

Don’t Accept Reservations on Busy Nights

If your restaurant is always busy on Friday nights, then you should decline to accept reservations for dinner. By doing so you eliminate the risk of no shows and make it easier for your staff to quick seat and turn tables without risking revenue.

Invest in a Modern Restaurant POS System

It almost goes without saying that the best way to turn more tables and improve your table turnaround time is to invest in a restaurant POS system that enables your team to work better, faster and more efficiently. Read this article on The Best Point of Sale (POS) Technology for Restaurants for more information.

Use Table Management Software

Ultimately, the best way to not only improve your table turnover rate, and implement a table management strategy is to invest in table management software that does the job for you. Seating and table management software is designed to save time and labor resources by reducing manual tasks, tracking KPIs and managing the inventory you need for special events. Many table management apps will even send mobile updates to customers, letting them know when their table is ready.

If you’re looking to improve table turnover at your restaurant, and make life easier for staff and crew, then contact ReSource Point of Sale to invest in a new POS system enabled with table management and seating software today.