Eating out for lunch is becoming increasingly popular with consumers reducing their high spend on dinner occasions to spend more on their lunch time meal. Monthly research by MCA reveals that 50% of consumers are dining out for lunch compared to 25% at both dinner and breakfast, with the popularity being attributed to people taking a break from work or study. To fully take advantage of consumer habits restaurants, cafes and pubs should focus on increasing lunch time table turns to maximise their profits. Thankfully with a few simple changes and the help of technology operators can be serving more guests in no time.
Specialised Lunch Menu
It’s crucial to develop a menu that differs from the dinner service one. Overly complicated menus with a lot of choice means customers take longer to order as well as increases the number of food items that must be kept in stock. Develop a lunch menu with fewer items and ones which take less time to prepare and cook. Not only will diners take less time to choose but they will also receive their meals quicker.
Table Location Solution
For fast casual restaurants who offer table service, after ordering at the counter, it can be difficult to locate customers during a busy lunch service. Table numbers or flags are often not an accurate way to locate customers once they’ve chosen a table and waiters lose time searching for them when delivering food. To deliver food quicker restaurants are adopting a table service solution, where customers are handed a guest tag when placing their order. The guest tag uses active RFID technology to track customer’s location in real time so waiters can easily see where to deliver food.
Serve Meals Quicker
Although an obvious solution serving dishes quicker is the most effective way to speed up table turns. With the help of kitchen automation software operators have been proven to reduce ticket times from 12 minutes down to just eight! Multiplying this reduction during a lunch time service immediately gives the opportunity for more table turns. Automating software works by streamlining kitchen operations and showing chefs when to cook each specific item.
Splitting the bill between a large group of people and taking separate card transactions can take up valuable time when there are customers waiting to be seated. A simpler and faster method of payment is through the use of payment apps which allow guests to select their bill, add a tip, split it and pay all without the assistance of a waiter. Signing up with an established app, like FlyPay, increases the likeliness that customers will already have the app and it won’t be an inconvenience using it to pay. As a bonus diners don’t waste time trying to raise the attention of a waiter who is busy serving and clearing tables.
When members of the team aren’t communicating effectively it can quickly become unclear when a table needs to be cleared or when a table is ready for seating. Valuable table turn time is lost whenever a table sits empty due to poor communication, especially when the solution can be as simple as letting the host know a table is ready. Training staff on the importance of communication and giving them the tools to do so, such as radios or headsets, makes an instant improvement to table turn times
In a casual dining environment waiters should be greeting their customers within one minute of them being seated and taking their first order within eight minutes. By doing so you know they’ll be receiving appetisers within 20 minutes and mains within 45 minutes. During a dinner service when less staff are working this can be difficult to achieve, especially when time is wasted walking to and from the kitchen pass to check whether orders are ready. A waiter paging solution allows chefs to easily notify waiters when dishes are ready, giving them the ability to spend more time with customers and meet the key time frames which help speed table turns.
And if you still can’t turn tables fast enough to seat every hungry lunch guest why not give customers the option to order food to takeaway, that way you can maximise profits and table turns.