Keeping Tables Full With a Wait App for Restaurants

Any busy restaurant turning over tables quickly can keep their tables full throughout the day. Read on below to find out how a wait app for restaurants can help your restaurant seat guests as soon as they enter the front door. 

Ready to improve your table turnover rate? Sign up to try out Carbonara App today.

Read about some of our clients: Celebrating Carbonara App in East Dundee, Tayside, Scotland.

No-booking Restaurants Turn Over Tables Quickly

Accepting walk-ins only is a good model for extra busy restaurants. Your restaurant can benefit from being extra flexible and generate additional revenue from welcoming anyone who decides to dine with you, outside your expected customer base

The advantage of no-booking venues is this: these restaurants can never be stood up by diners. A restaurant that is busy at all times will always fill tables, and if your restaurant already practices this way of dining, you know what to expect — queues.

Being too busy can be problematic. Your restaurant will be unable to seat a large amount of waiting customers because tables are full. This has led some to believe that long queues indicate business is going well — find out why this is a myth

Read more about some of these processes in practice at high-rated venues: 8 best brunch cafes to visit in England.

Here’s an example. Bao is currently among the best restaurants in London to visit this year. Located in Soho, the road it sits on is famous for its street-length queues, but Bao’s red-hot reputation ensures people return again and again.

Only a digital waitlist could make one of London’s most well-known queues disappear.

Really, people don’t want to stand around and wait. Matter of fact a study has shown that customers are only willing to wait 14 minutes in person before leaving the physical queue.

So how can you keep tables full while at the same time making the inevitable wait convenient for customers?

Explore the latest trends: 4 customer experience restaurant trends that you need to know.


Figure 1. Montmarte Cafes by Pedro Szeleky via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

What to Know About Wait Apps for Restaurants

An app will enable your restaurant to fill tables. All you need is a smartphone.

Read more: Why you need to quote restaurant wait times to customers.

Imagine your restaurant during the golden hour — its busiest peak time. Tables are already full, guests are happily eating, and staff members are stepping between tables. But more guests are arriving and want to sit in. As one party begins to leave, your head-of-staff will want to fill that table as soon as possible — not leave it empty for 10—15 minutes.

A wait app for restaurants can help do this for you. In a phrase it replaces the pen-and-paper system with a smartphone interface, making guestlist management much easier. 

Using a virtual queue, a wait app will let customers leave only to return when their wait is over — ready to fill the next table that opens.

Curious about how this process operates? Check out our separate post to inform you on how customers will leave to return later. Virtual Queue: If Customers Leave Will They Return?


Figure 2. Window Shop by Ian Gampon via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

How Guests Return on Time — Standby Seating

The most efficient way to deal with frequent customers is to create a revolving door system of your restaurant’s tables. As soon as one party prepares to leave, the next guest is ready and waiting to be seated. 

We have called this standby seating — a specialist technique that maximises the potential of your waitlist, handling guest turnover efficiently. Read about the ins and outs with our guide telling you everything you need to know about standby seating.

So now with customers returning at the precise point to be seated, your restaurant can keep tables full — but how does this work in practice?

4 Ways to Keep Tables Full

A wait app’s callback features ensure this will work. Here’s our step-by-step recommendation:

  1. Keep an eye on guests. Regularly ask yourself, “Who is getting ready to leave?” When you notice at least one table opening, then it’s time to use a virtual queue’s callback feature. Open the app, navigate the waitlist, and select the next party.
  2. Notify up to two to three parties. This is because it will take some guests longer to return than others. Since no one can know who will be slowest, this means your restaurant will be able to seat the next guest — i.e. the first to re-enter. 
  3. Create a flow-in system. By the time one party is seated, other tables will open up. Then, by the time the other parties return, they will be in the restaurant on standby, knowing another table is opening soon. A digital waitlist creates this flow.
  4. Never hold a table for more than 5 minutes. Let’s say a returning party is taking longer than expected. There’s no point in holding the table. (If truly necessary, hold it for 5 minutes.) With a flow-in system, you can seat whoever is at hand and maintain a steady turnover.

Learn more to improve your business: 10 Great Ways to Attract Restaurant Customers.


Figure 3. Working Hard by Sasha Krishnamurthy via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Wait Timers Help a Wait App for Restaurants

The Carbonara App comes with a very useful feature for walk-in restaurants: wait timers. 

Whenever your head-of-staff informs a customer that they will have to wait and inputs their details in the guest list, the app’s waitlist will display a wait timer beside their name. This gradually counts up (starting from 0 minutes), and then lets the customer know when they will have to return to be seated. 

This way customers can beat the queue. The advantage is that as the timer closes to completion, the customer can strategically move toward the restaurant to return at the exact minute. If for some reason the customer’s wait time exceeds, you can always notify them via the app’s 2-way communication features.

Discover more: Benefits of Restaurant WhatsApp Integration.

Also, Carbonara App automatically calculates daily statistics reports. Normally restaurants would have to either hire someone or do this themselves, using intricate and time-consuming formulas to determine the best queueing model that works for them. If mathematics isn’t your strong point, this is a hassle. 

Now you can discover average wait times automatically, offering your customers a more reliable idea of how long they will have to wait — all at the touch of your fingertips.

Don’t believe us? Let Carbonara App help keep your restaurant’s tables full — truly free! Download and test it out.

A wait app for restaurants comes with other features to optimise your restaurant’s workflow processes. Consult our ultimate guide to restaurant wait apps to learn more about extra features.