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How to Increase Table Turnover Without Dissatisfying Customers

By increasing the table turnover of your restaurant, you’re increasing your total sales and customer satisfaction.

But the last thing you want is to make customers feel you’re driving them away.

So, how can you increase table turnover and serve faster without sacrificing quality? Let’s find out!

What is Table Turnover?

Table turnover is the number of times a table in your restaurant is used by guests during a period of time.

Another common term is seat turnover—the number of times a seat in your restaurant is used by individuals during a period of time.

How to Calculate Table Turnover Rate

The table turnover rate indicates how busy your tables are at specific periods of time. Most restaurants has the average table turnover rate of 3, but this really depends on your restaurant—how big your tables are, whether your restaurant is upscale or casual, etc.

To calculate the table turnover rate, you need to:

  1. Choose the period of time you want to calculate the table turnover rate. For example, dinnertime, weekends, or Christmas day.
  2. Count the number of guests served at each table during the period of time you’ve chosen.
  3. Divide the number of guests served by the number of tables.

For example, if your restaurant has 10 tables and serves 30 guests during lunchtime, that means your table turnover rate at lunchtime is 3.

How To Increase Table Turnover

1. Reduce Waiting Time

Customers spend a lot of time in restaurants waiting. They wait for the servers to come to their tables and take their orders. Then they wait for the kitchen to prepare the dishes. After finishing their meals, they wait for the servers to print out the check.

By minimizing the waiting intervals mentioned above, you can improve your guests’ dining experience, while making it quicker to seat new parties.

With the help of today’s technology, you can easily control this waiting time. For take-outs and quick orders, customers can order food in advance via an app and collect their food from the counter. Moreover, investing in an automatic ordering machine is also a good idea to take food orders without waiting for the waiters. 

2. Greet Customers Immediately

As soon as a customer enters the restaurant, make sure they are welcomed. Have someone at the door to greet your guests. After that, seat them as soon as possible. Customers hate having to wait at the door while there are plenty of available tables nearby.

For your employees, the table turnover strategy should be like clockwork. A waiter or waitress should arrive at the table within one minute after guests are seated. Drinks should be ordered when the server arrives at the bar. Food should be ordered within ten minutes of ordering drinks. The faster you serve the table, the more satisfied your customers will feel.

a waiter is quickly greeting and taking order to help increase table turnover

3. Limit Menu Size

Small menus make it easier for customers to decide and not feel overwhelmed by too many options. This also helps your kitchen to better prepare for a specific number of dishes that they’re confident about, bringing a better dining experience.

Customers will order faster with a smaller menu size. If they’re still undecided and want your advice on what to order, recommend menu items that are simpler and take less time to prepare (if that shift is too busy).

4. Let Your Customers Leave

When diners have finished their meal, don’t let them wait too long for payment. Your customers have more important things to do than wait, and you need to get to work serving the next table. Figure out better ways to save payment time. Use POS software for convenient splitting checks and taking payments, and allow payment in card.

5. Tweak the Decor and Atmosphere

The decoration and atmosphere of your restaurant can affect the dining speed of your customers. Playing fast-paced music, for example, can encourage parties to eat more quickly. Placing tables in the middle rather than the corners keeps customers alert because that’s where the majority of the foot traffic is.

Rearranging tables is also a good way to increase table turnover. You might want to mix tables and booths because people in booths tend to spend more time eating. Put groups instead of couples in booths. It’s not easy to handle seating in a busy restaurant, but it can make all the difference.

6. Don’t Accept Reservations on Busiest Nights

Giving diners the option to make reservations on busy nights will cost your restaurant a lot in terms of turnover and sales. Tables have to be kept for customers who don’t arrive on time. Keep your restaurant exclusively “walk-in” on your busiest days. Only accept reservations on slow and deserted days.

7. Invest in Technology

Restaurant management software can help increase table turnover. Staff can arrange tables for guests, take orders, connect the front of the house (FOH) and the back of the house (BOH), minimize confusion of orders, and easily track the numbers. 

Order tickets from the FOH will go directly to the kitchen counter, saving time. When the waiter sends the payment request, the bill will be automatically transferred to the cashier.

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Even though a quick table turnover relies heavily on reducing average restaurant service time, your aim is to find the perfect balance between table turns and customer satisfaction.

Give enough time for visitors to enjoy themselves without feeling hurried, but not so much time that you are unable to seat a new group on time. 

Adopt the tips above to maximize the pace of service in your restaurant to efficiently increase table turnover. And train your employees to handle every step of the waiting process skillfully.

Read more about restaurant management, including tips on how to boost your restaurant’s profits.

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