What is in this article?:
- Wait-list management software improves restaurant operations
- Calculating ROI
Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Yard House and Umami Burger are among the restaurant chains using new wait-list technology.
Since most new wait-list management software offers the ability to automatically send text messages or call cell phones to let guests know their table is ready, it helps to reduce dining room noise from PA systems. It also rids restaurants of the need for pagers, which can be easily stolen or lost, noted Phil Crawford, chief information officer of Yard House Restaurants.
He said the Irvine, Calif.-based company has a goal to roll out Freshtxt software from Heartland Payment Systems systemwide in 2013. The company has tested the software at two of its 40 Yard House restaurants.
“Strictly from a cost standpoint, it’s a huge return on investment not having to buy pagers that get stolen every single day," he said. "At $40 a pager, if we lose 100 a month, that’s not cheap."
According to Crawford, Yard House also benefits from the vendor-hosted software’s table-management functions, such as graphic depictions of tables with checks that should soon be available for other parties. The ability of employees using tablet computers or mobile devices to instantly update the system when a table has been bussed and is ready for seating is another positive, he said.
“If I can seat and turn an increased number of [diners] per week,” Crawford said, “there’s revenue generation going on.”
Also a plus, he said, is that the software enables employees using tablets or mobile devices to “line bust,” or enter guest information for the wait list from both sides of the hostess station to keep long queues from forming.
Some wait-list management systems also collect data to create analytical reports of operational metrics. Sapet at Texas Roadhouse, for example, said the NoWait software’s daily analytical reports gave his team the information it needed to reconfigure its dining room "to make our seating ratios more efficient,” he said. “Now I have six two tops, instead of three four tops [in one section] and those seats are always filled.”
Many, if not most, of the latest wait-list-management systems are offered as a hosted-software service for a standard monthly fee of from $49 to $199 per restaurant before volume discounts or additional charges for customized interfaces or features. Some providers of the technology offer a free basic service on an ongoing or trial basis.