How to Encourage Table Turnover in Restaurant: 11 Tips

Joanna Okedara
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    From fine-tuning your seating arrangements to streamlining your front-of-house operations, there are several strategies that can improve table turnover in your restaurant. As you already know, table turnover measures the speed at which a table is vacated by one group of customers and made available for the next set of guests.

    Learning how to improve table turnover in a restaurant business is important, especially if you want to make more money and get more restaurant sales. For instance, imagine your restaurant is buzzing with customers during peak hours. 

    But the restaurant manager and front-of-house staff struggle to manage the influx of guests, resulting in long wait times and frustrated customers. Once seated, slow service and inefficient order taking prolong the fine dining experience. Tables that should have been turned over quickly remain occupied, causing a bottleneck in the flow of customers.

    Key Takeaway: Encouraging table turnover is not about pushing customers out the door. It's about creating an environment that keeps the energy flowing and allows more guests to experience the magic of your restaurant. 

    Implementing smart strategies and adding a touch of finesse to your operations will help you maximize revenue without compromising the relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere your patrons love.

    Let’s look at how to encourage table turnover in restaurants.


    11 Tips to Improve Turnover Time in a Restaurant

    If you're looking to improve turnover time in your restaurant and keep things flowing smoothly, we've got you covered! Check out these 11 tips that will help you optimize your operations, delight your customers, and increase your revenue. 

    Let's dive in!

    1. Efficient Seating Arrangements

    First things first, arrange your tables in a way that maximizes seating capacity without sacrificing comfort. You can opt for a mix of large and small tables to accommodate different party sizes. 

    Make sure you arrange your tables in a way that allows you to accommodate as many guests as possible without compromising comfort. As a tip, try to consider different table sizes, such as two-tops, four-tops, and larger tables, to cater to various party sizes.

    You can then position these tables in a way that maximizes available space and ensures smooth traffic flow. Avoid creating cramped or narrow walkways that can hinder guests and staff from moving around easily.

    Don't forget to leave enough space for guests and servers to move around easily.

    1. Train Your Host/Hostess

    This is one mistake most restaurant business owners make. If you want to improve table turnover in restaurant then it is critical to invest time in training your host/hostess to effectively manage seating and waitlists. 

    Teach them how to prioritize seating, communicate wait times accurately, and maintain a positive and friendly demeanor. A friendly welcome sets the tone for a positive dining experience.

    1. Offer Online Reservations

    Offering online restaurant reservations and table booking on your website makes it easier for your wait staff to plan ahead. You can implement an online reservation system that allows customers to book a table in advance. 

    This helps streamline the seating process, reduce wait times, and ensures a smoother flow of guests. It is also a great way to improve the customer experience.

    1. Use a Queue Management System

    Consider using a digital queue management system to manage waiting lists more efficiently. This keeps guests informed of their position in the queue and reduces crowding at the entrance.

    With a digital queue management system, you can bid farewell to messy paper lists and confusing manual processes. Guests can join the waitlist digitally, either through a mobile app or a display screen at the entrance. This simplifies the process and ensures accurate tracking of waiting times.

    Choosing the right queue management system is key. Look for user-friendly interfaces, integration capabilities with other restaurant management systems, and reliable customer support.

    1. Efficient Table Clearing

    Efficient table clearing is also important. So, how do you do it? 

    First, train your staff to clear tables promptly once guests have finished their meals. You should also make sure they communicate with the kitchen to ensure timely table clearing and preparation for the next guests.

    Next, you can implement tray service for clearing multiple tables at once. Equipping your staff with trays allows them to carry multiple dirty plates, glasses, and utensils in one trip, saving time and effort.

    You can also train your servers to practice pre-bussing, which involves clearing empty plates, glasses, and debris from the table throughout the meal. This helps reduce the workload when guests are ready to leave and ensures a quicker turnover.

    1. Optimize Menu Design

    Your menu design should be clear, concise and easy to read. While you may be tempted to use a lot of colors, you should try to be as simple as possible. Use clear headings, concise descriptions, and legible fonts. 

    Implementing menu engineering practices is a great idea to show customers which menu items are best-sellers. A well-designed menu helps customers make quicker decisions, leading to faster ordering.

    You can also use visual cues such as icons or borders to draw attention to these items. As a tip, include appetizing and high-quality photos of your dishes to entice customers. This can influence customers to make faster decisions and increase sales for popular items.

    1. Simplify Ordering Process

    Another great way to improve table turnover is to streamline your online ordering process. You can do this by implementing handheld devices for servers or self-ordering kiosks for customers. 

    This reduces the time spent taking orders and minimizes errors in communication. Additionally, you can integrate your menu with your online ordering platform. This allows customers to view the menu, make selections, and place orders directly through your eCommerce website or mobile app. 

    Furthermore, you can implement an efficient order management system that integrates with your kitchen operations. This allows orders to be transmitted directly to the kitchen, reducing the time it takes for chefs to receive and prepare them.

    Offer the option for customers to pre-order their meals online, either for dine-in or takeout. This allows them to plan ahead and reduces wait times upon arrival. Pre-orders can be submitted through your website or app, making the process seamless for both customers and staff.

    1. Pre-Set Tableware

    Pre-set tables with necessary utensils, napkins, and condiments to expedite the serving process. This eliminates the need for servers to go back and forth to fetch missing items, saving valuable time.

    If your restaurant offers customizable options, such as different types of cutlery or condiments, provide a base set-up while also accommodating specific guest requests. This allows for flexibility while still expediting the serving process.

    1. Offer Pre-Fixe Menus

    You can introduce pre-fixe menus during busy hours to simplify choices and speed up ordering. These set menus feature a curated selection of dishes and often come with a fixed price, reducing decision-making time for guests.

    With pre-fixe menus, guests can easily communicate their choice by indicating the specific menu option they prefer. This eliminates the back-and-forth discussions and deliberations often associated with à la carte ordering, allowing servers to promptly transmit orders to the kitchen.

    Additionally, the streamlined nature of pre-fixe menus enables the kitchen to prepare orders more efficiently. With a limited number of set dishes, chefs can anticipate the demand, pre-prepare ingredients, and expedite the cooking process. 

    This results in quicker service and shorter wait times for guests.

    1. Use Technology

    You can leverage restaurant technology to streamline operations. Start by implementing kitchen display systems that relay orders directly to the appropriate stations. This will reduce manual communication and expedite food preparation. 

    Next, invest in an order management software that integrates seamlessly with your POS system. This centralized platform allows for efficient order processing, automatic order transmission to the kitchen, and real-time tracking of order status. 

    You can also integrate online ordering and restaurant reservation platforms to streamline the pre-ordering process and manage reservations more effectively. Customers can place their orders or make reservations through your website or mobile app, reducing the time spent on phone calls and minimizing errors. 

    1. Efficient Payment Options

    You can make the payment and checkout process faster by integrating efficient payment options. There are various payment options you can choose from. 

    Here are some options:

    • Contactless Payment Methods: Embrace contactless payment methods, such as tap-to-pay credit or debit cards, mobile wallets (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay), or QR code-based payment apps. These options eliminate the need for physical contact or cash transactions, allowing guests to simply tap or scan their payment method for a quick and seamless checkout experience.
    • Mobile Payment Apps: You can consider integrating mobile payment apps into your operations. These apps enable guests to link their credit or debit cards, securely store payment information, and make payments directly from their smartphones. Mobile payment apps offer convenience, speed, and a secure payment process, reducing wait times and eliminating the need for traditional payment methods.
    • POS Solutions: Upgrade your restaurant point-of-sale (POS) system to incorporate features that facilitate efficient payments. Look for POS solutions that support various payment methods, including contactless options. These systems should seamlessly integrate with your order management and restaurant inventory systems, ensuring accurate and streamlined transactions.
    • Split Bill Functionality: You can implement a split bill feature within your POS system or payment app. This allows groups to divide the bill among themselves, eliminating the need for manual calculations and separate payments. Enabling guests to split the bill easily will save time and simplify the payment process, especially for larger parties.
    • Online Payment Options: Provide guests with the option to make online payments when placing orders or making reservations through your website or mobile app. Integrating secure online payment gateways simplifies the checkout process and allows guests to settle their bills in advance, reducing waiting times upon arrival.
    • Tableside Payment Processing: Equip your servers with handheld devices or tablets integrated with payment processing capabilities. This enables them to accept payments directly at the table, eliminating the need for guests to wait in line at a central payment station. Tableside payment processing expedites the payment process, increases table turnover, and enhances the overall guest experience.

    Frequently Asked Questions About How to Improve Table Turnover in Restaurants

    Improving your restaurant’s table turnover will set your business up for success by increasing customer satisfaction and maximizing revenue potential. Implementing these strategies will encourage a faster table turnover rate. This means more customers served, shorter wait times, and increased revenue generation.

    Let’s answer some other questions about how to improve table turnover in restaurants.

    What is table turnover in a restaurant?

    Table turnover in a restaurant refers to the rate at which tables are vacated by one group of customers and made available for the next set of guests. It is a measure of how quickly tables are utilized and can directly impact a restaurant's capacity to serve customers and generate revenue.

    How long is the average restaurant table turnover?

    The average restaurant table turnover time is  about 45 minutes to 2 hours. Fast-casual or quick-service restaurants may have shorter turnover times, while fine dining establishments may have longer turnover times to allow for a more leisurely dining experience.

    How many tables do waiters serve a day?

    The number of tables a waiter serves in a day is anywhere from 10 to 20 tables per day. However, this depends on factors such as the restaurant's popularity, the number of shifts worked, and the efficiency of the service staff.

    How do you count tables in a restaurant?

    Counting tables in a restaurant can be done by physically walking through the dining area and visually identifying each individual table. It is important to consider different seating configurations, such as booths, bar seating, and outdoor tables.

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