It's tough to find the balance between business and customer experience.
As a restaurant owner or manager, you want as many table turnovers as possible within a span of one hour. Quick turn turnovers mean good business. You're making good money, isn't that what the restaurant business is for in the first place? But unless you're operating a fast food burger joint, you also want your customers to relish their meals and overall dining experience, because this experience will dictate whether they'll visit your place a second time, or never again.
Owners of fast food joints have nailed down the fast food experience down to an exact science. It's been proven that eating in loud places encourages faster dining. This increases table turnover. Bright colors like orange, yellow and red also speed up eating, as well as intentionally "uncomfortable" seating. Reading the experience alone makes me want to gobble up my sandwich twice as fast.
On the other hand, you're losing out on customers who're looking for a more refined dining experience. You know, those customers who don't mind spending $100 on a single tab. These customers want comfortable seating, soft music playing in the background, baked scallops on the menu, and all the fixins of a fine dining experience.
As mentioned earlier, striking a balance between the two is easier said than done. If you try too hard to become both, you'll end up being none, which is worse. Your business won't live for long.
The thing is, you need to decide whether you want to cater to casual diners or the uptown folks. Here are some tips:
1. Seating locations
If you're looking to service casual diners, try positioning your seats and tables away from the walls and closer to the center of the room. This creates an atmosphere proven to encourage customers to eat faster so you could turnover tables more quickly.
On the other hand moving tables closer to the walls creates a sense of privacy and intimacy that encourages longer meals and lots of talking during dessert.
2. Deny reservation on busy nights
Friday nights you're going to be expecting a lot of customers, even for fine dining establishments. One way to deal with this is to turn down reservations so each one of your tables is always occupied. At the same time, this also creates a – slightly – more chaotic environment in the restaurant which would prompt eating customers to dine more quickly than usual.
3. Train your staff
Your staff play a huge role in the turnover frequency of the tables in your restaurant.
For instance, clearing the tables as soon as diners vacate them encourage newcomers to sit down and occupy that table almost immediately. If you also trained your staff to process orders and bills faster, it is an indirect way of nudging customers to eat faster so they're quickly on their way out the door.
Good business and a pleasant dining experience are two opposite extremes of the same spectrum. As the restaurant owner, the decision is yours whether you want a high table turnover business, or a kind of restaurant that goes for the quality-over-quantity model.
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