You want diners to relax and enjoy their experience in your restaurant. If they feel at home, they are more likely to become repeat customers. The longer they linger, the more likely they will order dessert, more drinks, or coffee, all of which are high-margin items. Increasing check totals can boost revenue and tip amounts, so the longer they stay, the better, right?
How long is too long?
At some point, diners need to move on so you can turn the table – prepare it to seat the next party. Sure, it’s great when diners order an extra drink or two, but it’s even better when you can get new guests at the table who, with any luck, will order appetizers, entrees and drinks, increasing revenue so you and your servers can make more money.
So, what is the sweet spot for table turning?
According to a recent study conducted by Upserve, 40-50 minutes may be the duration to shoot for, beyond that point, tips don’t typically increase. Check totals seem to top out even earlier, at the 30-40-minute mark.
Diners who linger for 80-100 minutes may add a bit to their server’s tip, but not enough to make up for what the restaurant and server would earn by turning the tables once or almost twice in that same time.
Keep it moving, but not too fast.
To optimize revenue and tips, it’s critical to keep service moving without making the customer feel rushed. Train your staff on the importance of moving customers along. Share these tips:
- Servers should greet customers within a minute or two of seating. This sets the tone for prompt service.
- Fill water right away while going over specials or popular dishes.
- Take drink orders promptly.
- Be attentive, if a diner has to flag you down, you’ve already lost time and possibly goodwill.
- Clear dishes promptly.
- Give the check to the diners before they ask for it.
- Make prompt resets easy by pre-rolling silverware and making sure you have enough bussers on the schedule.
Revisit the basics often.
Practices that are common sense to you may not come as second nature to your staff. For restaurant recruiting best practices, you can always count on the experts at Horizon Hospitality. Our restaurant recruitment firm makes it simple for restaurants to hire the people they need to maximize profits and optimize customer experience.
If you’re searching for in-demand professionals for your restaurant or hotel, contact the hospitality recruiters at Horizon Hospitality today, as we can find the right talent for your restaurant management positions.