Efficient table management is key for revenue maximization and customer satisfaction. Restaurateurs and General Managers need to find the optimal balance between turning tables fast enough to do as many covers as possible, while still providing diners a reasonable amount of time to enjoy their meals.
Reservations and Waitlist Management
Restaurant reservations are key for forecasting and maximizing your table management strategy. Managers can block off some tables for reservations and leave some out for walk-ins. This way, it is possible to begin to forecast the required food and beverage inventory as well as how much labor to have on hand.
In this digital era, most competitive restaurants will use a digital reservation platform such as an industry standard like OpenTable or up and coming innovators such as Resy and Reserve. Reservation platforms also often offer waitlist management, which is important for satisfying guests. The ability to accurately provide wait times to diners establishes a level of trust and can help you create repeat customers.
Service Layouts & Table Timers
In order to properly manage your tables and track the data, best practices include optimizing your table layout and implementing table timers. These two items will help your service become smoother and provide you with the opportunity to maximize revenue. The objective with table layouts is to fit as many seats in as possible with enough space for guests and servers to be able to move about the dining room space safely and comfortably. For example, planning out your aisle space wisely so servers can move to and from the pass easily is key. Another technique is to anchor tables against walls and nooks to maximize square footage and create inviting spaces.
More seats can equal more revenue, but it is important to keep in mind the diminishing return on increasing seat numbers past a certain point if the restaurant becomes too crowded or the kitchen cannot meet the demand of a certain volume of diners. Using table timers to measure this can also help you improve your front of house operations. Restaurant POS Systems where you can see color-coded service stages from when the guest is on appetizers to when they are about to be served dessert can help you manage operations in real-time as well as collect data so you can iterate and improve the way you manage your tables.
When evaluating restaurant efficiency, the key metrics to dive into include average check or cover value, table turn times, and revenue per available seat hour (RevPASH). Your average check value divided by number of people on the check is average cover. Multiplying check value or cover values by table turn times can help you forecast your revenue per service. RevPASH is another way to look at this and to calculate it, take the number of seats in your restaurant times the hours your business is open. This metric can help you set a goal so you can align your steps of service with your revenue strategy.