Many restaurateurs are eager to install it to boost their venue’s efficiency — but what exactly is an electronic queuing system?
It’s a digital service that electronically transfers the physical queue to the online realm. Customers digitally sign in to a queue, removing the need to stand in a single space.
An electronic queue service helps a restaurant keep track of their guest movements in real time. To get the best out of today’s platter of choice, heavy with software options, here are the main things to consider.
Summary — What’s Inside:
Restaurants are as varied as people, that is, they come in various sizes, appearances, and styles.
On a fundamental level, an electronic queuing system is made for walk-in venues. Reservation restaurants also have a choice of software options. It’s possible to implement an electronic queuing system in a hybrid-style restaurant: one that takes both bookings and queues. Yet when it comes to electronics, wherever there’s a queue, there’s a way.
Your restaurant may have operated on a walk-in-only code. This is the case of many famous places in London, where you’re lucky to even attain a seat.
Typically, these restaurants operate on the misconception that queues are good for their business. In fact, the opposite is true.
An electronic queuing system should allow you to customise its settings to fit the habits of your business. Think of a peg-and-hole game — the ideal system should be able to morph into any shape and fit through every hole.
Most queue systems will advertise their customisable features on a dedicated website. If unsure, always consult an expert on a provider’s team. Better to discover the long way than the hard way after you’ve implemented the system.
Figure 1. Convent Garden, London by Ewan Munro via Flickr
The most innovative feature of all electronic systems is in the name — it’s electronic. The best use a virtual system, using cloud computing and operating via the internet. This means that the shackles of hardware don’t bind you to a certain place, a certain time.
The best systems will let you manage a queue from anywhere in-store. As a restaurant host or team leader, you’ll want to look for features that allow you to operate without standing in a single host location.
These are things like cloud features, device sync, and host accessibility (i.e., features exclusive to higher personnel, such as staff management access).
This is important: an electronic queuing system operates on the premise that it makes your job easier. It provides features like a table management tool to simply assign seats to incoming customers from anywhere in your restaurant. Therefore, an easy, portable system is the best you can ask for.
Perhaps the most important job that an electronic queuing system has is to offer restaurant owners SMS communication features.
With SMS features, restaurateurs can efficiently manage electronic queues.
Two-way communication features — i.e., both restaurants and customers can text one another — allow an electronic queuing system to function. Customers leave the restaurant, evade the queue, and crucially, keep in touch with the restaurant on their activities.
For instance if they need more time, customers can inform restaurants on their whereabouts.
Imagine a party booking where three people have gone to the bar next door. They have just ordered more drinks, then receive a text that their table is ready. They want to finish their drinks; so they inform the restaurant of their status.
There lies the beauty of a two-way communication service: the customer can text back the restaurant, informing them that they’ll take longer to return. Therefore, knowing the status of their customers, the restaurant can seat the next party. No more vacant tables.
SMS features are just a way to make matters easier, to help streamline your restaurant’s services. In today’s world, WhatsApp also provides a great platform to inform customers on their wait.
Stay up-to-date on Carbonara’s new compatibility feature, operating with WhatsApp’s instant messaging service.
If your restaurant uses electronic software to process card payments, then you’ll have to consider how a system will interact with a queue management solution.
You’ll find that many queue management companies advertise to a wide range of customers, to eliminate waiting in line around the world.
Most systems on the market target other queue-based businesses (retail banks, retailers, telecom brands). They have large user bases to increase profitability. Therefore, system providers will charge based on a general model.
Point-of-sale (POS) integration connects an electronic queuing system to your restaurant’s existing POS arrangement, a critical component in today’s restaurants’ mode of operations.
In reality, this is just a way to make matters easier, to streamline your restaurant’s services. POS integration will come in handy if you want things like sales reports, that automates the data transfer of how many guests you process in a queue.
Some queue systems use a ticket dispensing kiosk. Though it is partly electronic, these systems use physical materials to manage customers. Staff calls up waiting customers according to their place in a numbered system.
Current electronic queuing systems do things differently. Using smartphone technology, customers arrive at your restaurant already with the queue dispenser in hand.
This is delivering service in real-time: A customer receives a notification while they are elsewhere, notifying them that it’s time to return without all the hassle of dispensary tickets or buzzers.
Also, look out for timer features. After offering a customer an estimate on how long they’ll wait, a system will use analytics and data to offer customers accurate time estimates to depend on.
Although they operate on a more incremental basis, analytics can help your restaurant shape its processes. Discover how free analytic reports can boost your venue’s efficiency.
Figure 2. Queue in Lviv by Sergey Kozak via Flickr
It’s the thorn on all restaurant owners’ side: the cost.
Prices vary depending on basic licencing fees, including subscription costs. Mostly billed on an annual basis, providers will look at how much they charge a month.
For instance, some providers charge extra on a per-unit basis. So, if you have multiple branches using the same software, you’ll individually pay for each restaurant using it. This typically comes to an annual price of around £70—100.
The subscription cost operates like a media service. A monthly bill extracts money from your restaurant’s account via direct debit. The charge of top providers reaches into the hundreds, that is, around £299—500.
The question is whether this is viable or not for a restaurant to spend hundreds on. The costs of software are miners with pickaxes who chip away at your block of earnings — an unreasonable ask when restaurant revenue is generally so low.
Let’s not forget the upfront cost. To register with an electronic queuing system’s service, you may have to pay up to enjoy membership status alone.
Granted, many providers offer a free trial — but the design of a trial period intends to ease you into the service and then eat up your funds later without you realising it.
Figure 3. How do you . . . by nathanoj via Flickr
The best way to assist connection with your customers, to optimise the guest experience, is to consider a mobile-first solution.
Many providers on the market are too complicated for their own good. They install kiosks and hardware in your restaurant that look intimidating to today’s customers. A desktop-only electronic queuing system looks more like office equipment than a restaurant service.
Provide customers with a familiar and efficient queue solution: use the device they already have in their pockets.
It’s sure to boost your restaurant’s footfall. A recent report showed that restaurants implementing electronic queuing systems designed for smartphones experienced an incredible climb in average guests from 200,000 restaurant queuers to 3,000,000 and counting. The reason is simple: it’s convenient for customers to enjoy their wait in a virtual queue on their phones.
Let’s help your restaurant experience the best electronic queuing system available — completely free. Try out Carbonara App today!