If you’re an independent restaurant owner, you know how challenging it can be to keep up with competition and decide which technology will get the job done. You may even wonder whether you need technology at all, weighing concerns over whether it will disrupt the flow of your service. This is especially important on busy nights and weekends, when you rely on your staff to turn tables efficiently and keep the waitlist moving.
Most restaurant owners don’t realize that technology could help alleviate some of the pain points on those busy nights. Have you ever considered whether your hosts could perform better with the aid of technology?
The secret lies in the basic process of turning tables – the way information is relayed back to the host. Your host has to determine where guests are in their dining experience. Do they have the check yet? Are they waiting to be served? Have they paid? Hosts need to continually circulate through the dining room to check on tables, or rely on wait-staff for updates. This process takes time and effort, and is exactly where technology can help.
In fact, technology can connect your host station directly to your restaurant POS. Any updates throughout the guest dining experience can be automatically conveyed in real-time.
Imagine this: whenever an order is placed or a check is presented, the POS system automatically notifies the host stand. The system uses a predictive wait time algorithm, so your host knows exactly when a table will be ready to turn. Even brand new, untrained hosts can operate as experts, knowing instantly if a table is ready to seat new guests.
Let’s take a look at how this works in the real world:
Meet Trip Turbyfill, owner of Café Strudel in West Columbia, South Carolina. Trip’s small restaurant enjoyed an explosion in popularity, but with his traditional pen and paper system of managing tables, guests would often face long waits while tables in the dining room somehow sat empty. Trip’s lean staff made matters worse was – sometimes he himself had to fill in as the host.
Trip took a leap of faith and turned to technology for help. He chose CAKE’s POS and Guest Manager system, implementing an integration between the two. Trip’s main concern, like many restaurant owners, was the effort a technological overhaul would require. He was surprised to find the experience to be “plug and play” – completed in minutes without a disruption in service.
Now Café Strudel has a waitlist system that gives guests much more accurate wait time predictions, and automatically texts them when their table is ready. More importantly, since the POS is connected to the guest management software, the host instantly knows when a table is ready.
“I had it for 30 days, and after that, I didn’t know how I had ever done it before,” says Trip. “It was like coming out of the dark ages.”
The results speak for themselves: Trip improved his restaurant’s table turn time by 6%, allowing him to seat more tables. He expects this will result in $14,000 in additional revenue for Café Strudel this year. He attributes the increase directly to the technology integration, since nothing else was adjusted in the restaurant; they have no new staff, and the current staff has no new training.
So can the right technology improve host performance? We (and Trip) believe the answer is yes. If you’re open to change and smart about researching the right technology for your restaurant, you can enjoy benefits for your staff, your guests and, most importantly, your wallet.
For more details on Trip’s experience, check out a full case study on Café Strudel.