Four ways to manage a restaurant queue

By Ashley Sheppard

- Last updated on GMT

Avoid long queues forming in your restaurant with CST's top tips
Avoid long queues forming in your restaurant with CST's top tips
Ashley Sheppard, commercial director at Call Systems Technology (CST), gives restaurant operators tips on how to handle queues. 

It has been said that Brits love to queue, but the reality is that no-one really likes waiting for a table. According to research by Visa, 89 per cent of consumers have left a venue as a result of excessive queuing and Londoners in particular spend an average of 9 minutes and 11 seconds in a queue each week, so it is crucial that restaurant operators know how to manage their customer's wait for a table at busy times to secure their trade. 

Tip 1: Think about the customer 

Operators shouldn’t be lulled into thinking it’s cool to have queues overflowing out the door, because it’s not. It’s rude to keep people waiting and it’s definitely not hospitable. Put yourself into the shoes of your customers, a one to four hour queue does nothing to deliver a memorable customer experience in their journey with you. Give thought to whether you’re hindering your chances of repeat business by using your customers as shuffling A-boards. This may continue at your high, but what happens if that popularity wanes? Will you be left regretting those queues?  

Tip 2: Make it memorable

According to the current issue of Harden’s Restaurant Guide, 2016 was a record year for London restaurant openings with 179 opening against a previous high of 158 in 2008.  With consumer choice at an all-time high, operators are having to work harder to stand out. If a queue does form outside your business, go the extra mile to demonstrate your hospitality before they are seated. Consider providing your queuing guests with seating, umbrellas in the rain or even samples from your menu to whet their appetite. They’ll remember you for this and so will the neighbouring competition. 

Tip 3: Keep customers informed

Customers don't like to wait, but they are less likely to chance a trip to another restaurant if they know when they'll be seated. Ensure staff give regular updates to waiting customers, or use intelligent technology to keep them informed about how long their wait for a table will be, how many people are ahead of them in the queue and when their table is ready. It will put the power of choice firmly in their hands. They may be able to have a drink elsewhere, carry on shopping or go for a walk. Standing in a queue takes away their power of choice and as an operator in an increasingly busy marketplace, can you afford to leave them standing out in the rain? 

Tip 4: Avoid it happening

Technology is also allowing us to change the queue as we know it. Avoid a queue forming by allowing customers to book in advance online or through mobile apps. Today's tech-savvy consumers expect to be able to do everything on their smart phones, including adding themselves to a restaurant wait list, or make a reservation, so use the latest technology to make it easy for them to do this and manage their own time and you'll avoid the queues forming altogether. 

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