In the restaurant industry, table turnover ratio is a critical performance metric. The faster guests eat, pay the bill and leave, the more tables the restaurant can seat and the more revenue it can produce. However, rushing guests can result in sub-par customer service and reputational damage. Many restaurants need a system that can ensure tasks are being performed at optimal times to strike the right balance between superior and fast service.
At Buffalo Wings & Rings Restaurant, speed is an essential part of its customer experience. Servers are expected to greet diners within 45 seconds of being seated at their table, and managers are required to greet guests roughly three minutes after the food is delivered. While management knew how much time passed between the receipt of food orders and delivery to the waitstaff, they weren’t sure of how quickly the waitstaff met customer service expectations. Buffalo Wings & Rings sought a means to better track and analyze customer satisfaction and ensure those benchmarks were being met.
According to Buffalo Wings & Rings general manager Ed Carlin, like at other busy restaurants, staff is challenged to optimize service at peak periods. As waiters can juggle up to six tables at a time, it can be difficult for even the most experienced waitstaff to remember when to ask about drink refills, check back in with guests and ensure new tables are greeted on time.
Carlin says that while the goal was to greet customers within 45 seconds of being seated, “it wasn’t always happening.” Hosts would notify servers that the table was set, but the distractions of other orders, guest requests and frequent trips back to the kitchen often made it difficult to touch tables in a timely fashion. The staff also found it increasingly difficult to refill drinks as quickly as needed. “They really needed a system that would give reminders to help keep their memory straight,” says Carlin.
The restaurant had been using its POS to track how long food takes from the point it’s entered into the POS by the server to the time it comes out of the kitchen. Carlin says that although they’re conscious of their goal to have food out within 12 to 15 minutes during peak hours, a lag existed in how long it took waiters to receive customer orders and get them to the kitchen. “The server might have to stop by two or three other tables, refill drinks, and there could be a few minutes before they get the order in. We simply didn’t know how long that was taking,” says Carlin.