Don’t Force Guests to Play the Restaurant Waiting Game

Sponsored by Nowait

I hate walking into a restaurant and crossing my fingers that the wait time is manageable

The thought, “Please don’t be longer than 15 minutes,” often races through my head as I walk toward the hostess. I can immediately tell by the number of people lingering outside or by the host stand how long my wait is likely to be. If I say “excuse me” at least three times on my way to speak with a hostess, the odds are very good that I’m going to be waiting over an hour for a table. 

Sometimes when seeing a crowd of people waiting outside, I don’t even get out of the car. 

Or how about the “wait time drive by?” When a car pulls up, and one person leaps out to scout out the wait time. They can immediately tell by the look on their partner’s face whether it makes sense to park, or if it’s on to Plan B. 

And if a guest gives their name to a frazzled hostess, it’s often scrawled on a pad that looks like it’s been recovered from a battlefield. Tattered, torn, and well-worn, the “wait list notebook” is marked with dog eared badges and a list of names with comments, cross-outs, and endless scribbles. The book has probably been at the host stand longer than any one hostess. 

The best is when a host scrawls my name on the back of a menu or ripped piece of paper. I’m left questioning whether or not my name is even going to be read aloud in the 30-45 minute time window that I have been given. Until then, I stand with the rest of the hangry people whose collective stomach grumbling sounds like some sort of weird symphony. It’s in this crowd that there’s a shared feeling of remorse that we didn’t all pick a different restaurant to visit. 

And what if we (or other guests) get so fed up that we just stand up and leave? It happens all the time. Your restaurant is losing countless guests during those super busy times. As an industry we average 25% lost guests during peak hours. That translates into a ton of cash.

There’s a better way.

In today’s world of technology and connectedness, it’s a shame that so many restaurants still use a pad and pencil instead of an intelligent system like Nowait. People want to have confidence in a restaurant’s waitlist process. They want to know that the estimated wait time isn’t a random number that a young hostess pulled from thin air. They want to know it’s an accurate figure generated from a system that can alert them on their mobile device when their table is ready. 

We live in an on-demand world. Consumers expect to get what they want when they want it. That’s exactly why services like Uber and Postmates exist. We live in a new world of artificial intelligence and chatbots. Your business must evolve to cater to today’s changing customer requirements. That’s why selecting a best-in class waitlist management provider like Nowait gives you a leg up against your competitors. It’s not a question of choosing the old way of doing things versus the new. It’s about selecting a solution that improves your operations, guest experience, and overall business.

Think about this scenario.

A guest wants to dine at your fine eatery and logs into an on-demand dining app, like Nowait, and sees that the wait is about 45-minutes. Perfect, they think. It’s about a 20 minute drive and they still need to get ready – get dressed, take out the dog, change over the wash.

They do their house chores, finish getting dressed and hop in their car. But on the way they hit traffic and it looks like they’re going to be about 10 minutes late. Normally this would be a stressful moment for your guest, your staff, and your other guests waiting (seeing an empty table while waiting is a terrible experience). 

Instead, it’s not. Your guest can contact you via the two-way communication, letting you know they’ll be late. Your hosts can then react immediately, bumping someone else up in the waitlist while letting the late-guest know that another table will be ready for them when they arrive.

Ten minutes later, the guest pulls into your parking lot and gets an alert on their phone that their table is ready. They walk in, sit down, and have an amazing dining experience.

Awesome, right? Your guests don’t have to wait in your lobby (or outside in the cold) for what seems like eternity, and your FoH staff doesn’t have to answer “How much longer? We were told it’d be 15 minutes a half hour ago,” every two minutes.

It also means you don't lose guests and the check totals they bring in.

No crossing of fingers. No angry guests. No poor reviews. Just a great, streamline experience from waitlist to check. That’s the future of dining that’s happening right now.