Handling Long Restaurant Wait Times

Restaurant wait times 1Restaurant Wait Times are Inevitable

Restaurant wait times are bound to happen: the house is packed, your kitchen staff is swamped, meals are backed up and you’ve got a line out the door. Any restaurant-goer has likely experienced the agony of waiting 90 minutes for a table, a harrowing situation which can quickly make your guests go from happy to hangry. Let’s look at some creative ways you can turn these stressful scenarios into delightful dining experiences.


First Impressions Count

Your host is the first person guests are going to encounter when they walk through your door. And if they’re greeted with an attitude that makes them feel unwelcome, it’s likely they’re going to turn right around. Even if there’s a two-hour wait and the phone is ringing off the hook, your host needs to greet every customer with a smile and a reassurance that they’ll be seated as soon as possible. They don’t call it the hospitality industry for nothing!


Be Honest

It’s always the best policy. Your staff knows how long the wait for a table will be, so to gain the trust of your guests (and keep them coming back to your establishment), be up front with them. In fact, research suggests that reducing the uncertainty of how long a customer will be waiting also reduces the amount of stress they feel about the situation. Be honest—if a table won’t be ready for another 45 minutes, don’t try to smooth things over by claiming it’ll be 15 minutes. Sincerity builds loyalty, especially in a restaurant.


Technology Is Your Friend

In this climate of instant access to endless entertainment, it’s no question that people hate to be bored. And what’s more boring than waiting for a table? Keep your guests engaged (and their minds off the fact that they haven’t been seated yet) by equipping your restaurant with free WiFi, and add some televisions to your waiting area. If guests have to wait, they may as well be entertained!

There are several great digital waitlist tools available now, too. They can predict wait times, manage guest lists, and even send texts to your guests when their table is ready.


Mine the Data

Restaurants are predictably busier on weekends, but there may be other trends at play. Footfall analytics give you a better idea of when to expect a peak in patrons based on data collected over time. Equipping yourself with this insight can help you reduce wait times in the first place by allowing you to staff appropriately or add new hires.


Restaurant Wait TimesMake Them Feel Special

Capitalizing on a long wait time is easy to do, and it makes your guests feel welcome and unique. Introduce them to a specialty cocktail you’re testing, or a new app. This is the ideal opportunity to engage with guests and get their feedback about the menu. Some restaurants even send servers over to the waiting area to take drink orders, which increases revenue before guests have even been seated.


The long and short of it is this: At some point in any restaurant-goers life, they’re going to have to wait for a table. Testing out any one of these tips can turn this otherwise negative experience into a positive one. So whether you need to invest in new technology or dial up your waiting area, ARF offers flexible restaurant loans with terms up to 36 months, affordable rates, and absolutely no need for collateral. APPLY NOW to find out how much you qualify for! It’s free and it won’t impact your credit score!