Turn Those Tables
Tricks and tips to get your servers to turn their tables faster
We’ve all been there. Your reservation book for the night has filled up nicely and you’ve arranged seatings to ensure two turns, likely three. You’ve even slightly overbooked to account for inevitable no shows. No matter what, however, you can’t control the pace at which people dine and you end up having trouble getting some tables to move out on time.
Turning tables is key to a successful night with good sales, and even if you set your reservation book and work with your team, things can always trip up your plan.
“The way you write your reservation books, regardless of the software, is everything,” says Erin Phillips, senior director of operations for Chicago’s Boka Restaurant Group. “You can try to be super aggressive, but you know you can’t provide a good guest experience for a party of six in an hour. I’m constantly looking at and adjusting the way our books are written.”
Phillips shares various metrics with Boka’s restaurants’ service teams, including their turn times, which most reservation software systems show. You can compare a server’s turn time to his tip average, feedback scores and check average. If they’re low all around, you know that server needs work turning tables.
“Most servers appreciate when you show them that information,” Phillips shares. “I’ve explained to my team how the reservation book works and it’s pretty impactful. Most operators don’t take the time to explain how it works, but it can change the game if the team understands how it works.”
One way to improve your tracking is to work with a system like TableUp, which currently works with more than 600 restaurants across the country on loyalty program, marketing automation, online ordering and front-of-house services.
“We help host staff and waitstaff optimize seating arrangements to help maximize (table turns),” says Samantha Watts, TableUp’s director of marketing. “We also allow customers to pay at the table so they don’t have to wait for the check. That’s done through an app the restaurants have to promote.”
Table-based interactive ordering tablets can help speed people through their meal. When they don’t have to wait for a server to take a drink order or drop a check, they feel more empowered and eventually leave more satisfied.
“It can cut wait times and make customers happier,” Watts adds. “More flow through the restaurant increases revenue.”
No one is going to argue with that.