These days, waiting in a queue tends to be a common dining-out experience. A popular and successful restaurant brimming with a full dining room always looks like a place where everyone wants to be. Fine dining restaurants tend to take reservations, fitting with a more formal, exclusive atmosphere and a slower pace of dining.
However casual dining restaurants with a waitlist tend to prefer the ‘first-come-first-serve’ model to:
If your restaurant uses a paper waitlist to manage guest turnover, read on below for the latest information on digital waitlists, including what they can do for you.
Figure 1. Ristorante Italiano (NYC) by Michele Ursino via Flickr
Summary — What’s Inside:
What you’re doing today may seem easy, fast, and uncomplicated. It may seem like the only way to manage queues and waiting times. Not true. Here are a few reasons why you might want to bin the books and reconsider using a paper waiting list:
Let’s say you want to see how many people are waiting. You might be in the back office, the kitchen, or on the floor speaking with a customer. O.K. — that means you have to stop what you’re doing, go to the host stand, and ask whoever is managing the waitlist to see your guests. Isn’t this a hassle, and doesn’t it take up needless time?
In every busy restaurant across the world, there comes an hour (or hours) of the day when customers come piling in, and the busiest hours are always stressful. Imagine there’s a big crowd: some customers are asking when a table will be ready, others are asking how much longer for the table you promised them; staff members are running around trying to take care of customers, and your solution to managing this headache is pen and paper. This is a hectic situation.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few more tools in your belt? Even something as simple as allowing two staff members to take down customer names at the same time?
It’s human nature: when we’re rushing, our handwriting becomes sloppy. If you’ve ever had to stop and ask a co-worker to decipher sloppy handwriting, you’re not alone. Nothing would be more frustrating than losing customers due to an illegible name or missing customer details.
Paper and food don’t mix. Spill a drink on the guestlist and — well, it’s like flipping a table. You have just lost an entire afternoon’s business. Enough said.
Until recently, there were no alternatives. But today with a digital waitlist, we do things differently. This guide explains how a restaurant wait list app drastically reduces all the headaches — the overbearing crowd, the hungry queue, the indecipherable paper waitlist — making you and your customers much happier.
To sum up, here are some of the issues restaurants face when using a paper waiting list:
The pen-and-paper waitlist may seem like a simple solution. Too often, however, we don’t stop to think that the lack of a more organised system affects restaurant workflow and dampens the overall customer experience. Who likes to wait in line constantly looking into the restaurant and hoping a table opens up when they’re hungry? No one.
When customers are waiting in line and don’t know how long they will have to wait, the queueing experience becomes incredibly frustrating. With food on the brain, standing and waiting can feel like a lifetime.
Restaurant operators and their guests deserve better. They deserve a waitlist system that fits their needs, facilitates workflow, and improves the customer experience. The proof is in the pudding: a waiting list app could change your world and the customer’s experience of dining out.
The world is going digital — and so is the restaurant industry. Today, many online services and technological tools for restaurants exist, including food delivery apps, online review services, social media platforms (like Facebook and Instagram for promotion), QR-coded menus, and much more (check here to find out about other restaurant apps).
Today, restaurant online services also include restaurant waiting list apps that help restaurants seat more guests, eliminate queues, and improve the workflow.
A restaurant waitlist app recreates the waitlist on a smart device, like an iPad or Smartphone. Just like a regular waitlist, a digital waitlist helps keep track of the customers waiting to be seated in the restaurant, only better.
Figure 2. El Patron Restaurant by Alan Light via Flickr
Here are some benefits:
The waitlist app is on your phone or tablet. So even if you have a fit of madness and decide to throw your phone (or iPad) on the floor, damaging or losing a restaurant waitlist system is quite difficult: it’s saved in the cloud and available to access from any phone/device. Since you store customer details digitally, restoring the waitlist is easy.
Using a digital waitlist, you can text customers their estimated wait time, then press another button to text the customer to return, informing customers their table is ready. Wave goodbye to the physical queue; guests no longer have to wait in line.
You can access the waiting list from any phone or tablet — iOS or Android. Staff members can log in remotely on their phones. This means the waiting list travels in their pocket, accessible from anywhere in the restaurant. As a manager, you can check in on the restaurant from anywhere — the kitchen, back office, or even when you’re away from the restaurant.
Now, you may be thinking: “If I allow my customers to leave, they won’t come back”. You may also think that “customers don’t check their SMS ”. Good news: these thoughts are mere myths. Click here to find out why these are misconceptions — and not the truth.
O.K. — so you’re probably thinking: “Is this for me? Would this help my restaurant?”
A digital waitlist suits a specific restaurant type, particularly regarding service and waiting times. Simply ask yourself a few questions:
Reservations fit a formal atmosphere. When it comes to fine dining, asking customers to wait fits awkwardly with the restaurant’s image. But if your restaurant ditches the table cloths and the classical music, if you allow customers to eat with their hands — if instead of holding a table, you prefer to seat the next guest in line — then a digital waitlist could suit your tastes.
The waitlist is for seating more guests — not for placing orders, right? Whether it’s a dedicated host, the manager, or even a member of staff, restaurants with waitlists will have someone who walks customers to their table, then seats them. Typically speaking, the customer also orders and pays from the table. Sound familiar? This is what a restaurant waitlist system is for.
The burden of a 10-minute wait is low — for the patient, a piece of cake. But when the wait approaches 20—30 minutes, hungry customers become irritated customers; there is a significant chance many will leave the restaurant. Restaurants with long waiting times use a digital waitlist to eliminate the queue, to keep their guests (and themselves) happy.
You don’t need much to implement a restaurant waitlist app. All you need is a smartphone (iOS or Android).
And sure if you want, you can add a tablet. The choice is in your hands.
Figure 3. People After Work by Rawpixel Ltd. via Flickr
Every restaurant is different. But when it comes to managing queues, for any restaurant there are some basic needs that a waitlist app should fulfil. Here are 4 things you should consider when choosing the right waitlist app for you.
Restaurant waitlist apps should be simple, easy to understand, and a breeze to use. When looking into a queueing app, ask yourself these questions:
Beware of apps that promise too much — the so-called “waitlist for everything” kind. Restaurants have different needs from, say, hotels, hospitals, post offices, clothing, or mobile phone stores. So, make sure you pick a restaurant-focused waiting list app, that offers features designed specifically for you, the restaurant operator.
So what are the restaurant-focused features you need? Here are 10 waitlist features that you might want to look for:
Check here for the full and expanded list of feature recommendations.
Monthly usage, feature sets, SMS fees – These are among a number of different ways that companies divide and slice up costs. Here are several pricing schemes that you ought to consider. Then, decide what works best for you.
Monthly Fee (Flat monthly fee: Volume Usage, Locations, etc.)
Some waiting list apps have a monthly fee (usually divided into different plans going from Basic to Premium/Pro). Basic plans are cheaper, with few essential features. On the other plate, premium plans come with more features, including device synchronization, multi-location management, and much more.
Sometimes, plan tiers include usage limits. On the plus side, this fee is flat (meaning, costs are all included). But there is also a downside: during slower periods, it’s easy to forget to drop down to a lower payment tier.
Text Message Charges & SMS Fees
All companies must face transactional costs for sending out text messages. One way companies charge the restaurant is via a per-SMS fee.
For apps that send text messages to customers, the pricing structure marks up the cost of each text delivered. This can be a fair way of charging for usage. Yet it’s hard to predict how much you might spend in a month.
Similar to how reservation companies typically charge restaurants. The per-person model charges for each person seated via the system. For restaurants that have long queues, this cost will add up significantly.
But wait. It might be worth asking why pay on a per-person scale when the waitlist app is not driving new demand? Instead, the waitlist app is managing the demand at the front door.
All these options cost money. But there remains a final alternative…
Free of Charge
Gratis. On the House. No-cost. Complimentary.
We think this is the best price (and bet that you do too). Read on to learn more about a free restaurant waitlist app.
While several digital waitlist apps are available today, the Carbonara restaurant waitlist app fits well with the industry’s current needs in many ways. Here’s how.
We’re here to help. The Carbonara app is industry-focused, including features like:
These features make sure you keep your restaurant’s waitlist management on track. Compared to a paper-based system, the Carbonara app pays attention to your restaurant’s needs — using the above features to optimize your interaction with customers.
(Pssst . . . the Carbonara app also includes restaurant reservation features. Check here to find out more!)
Stand out from the crowd. The Carbonara app contains user customisation features, which cater to your restaurant’s needs. This includes:
If your restaurant attracts customers from across the globe, then language features will come in handy. Now you can easily interact with customers from a variety of backgrounds, cross-cultural borders, communicate with native speakers and second-language learners — all at the click of a button.
Let’s get technical. The Carbonara app also offers a Daily Statistics Report which includes:
This information helps restaurants to provide accurate waiting times for guests, mostly when the restaurant is busy. Our free waitlist app for restaurants provides up-to-date wait times that will reduce the chances of losing customers during those busy hours.
Let’s face it. A restaurant waitlist app should be easy to use. That’s why the Carbonara free restaurant waitlist app has a simple design. We designed it for you, the phone user, to be used on smartphones.
Skip the trial period — because there is none.
Simply, Carbonara is just free. Curious to learn more and try it out? Download here.
And if you have any questions, feel free to contact us here.
For more about the Carbonara App: