Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 .

When a customer who is on the waitlist or has a reservation sends you a text, you are able to see their text reply.  This helps you know when a customer decided not to come so you can remove them from the list, if they are on their way so you can hold their table, or if they have something else to ask or tell you.  With a Pro subscription, you can send open text replies to customer texts for more flexible communications.

Another Pro feature we have recently added is the option to enable an audio alert or visual highlighting when customers send you text messages.  Normally you would see a note in the customer row when they send you a text, and the full details of texts sent and received when tapping on the customer row.  The new alert features make it easier to know when a customer replies and which customer replied by playing a sound and flashing the area of the notes to attract your attention to the right spot to look.

Here’s how to set these up. If you use Waitlist Me in a computer browser, make sure you’re using the new version (there’s an option at the top of the waitlist to switch to the new version). Then on the top right of the main waitlist page click on the Settings gear icon  and go to Custom Behaviors > Receiving Texts. Here you can turn on options to play a sound and/or highlight the section of the waitlist that has the text response alert for a customer. These settings will apply to any devices using the web version.

In the Waitlist Me apps, the Custom Behavior settings are device-dependent, so you can choose whether to have them on or off for each different tablet or phone you’re using. In the app, go to the gear icon > Customization > Custom Behaviors > Receiving Texts to edit these options. Once turned on, you would hear a chime and see the highlighted area when you have the app open on your device.

Friday, July 17th, 2020 .

Our table management and resource management tools help businesses track availability and the time customers spend at their business.  When assigning customers to a table or resource or moving customers between resources we have had a pop up for choosing from a list of assignments in some of our views.  In some cases this is a quick and effective method, but other times it may be easier to select a table from the floorplan view or a resource from the grid view, so we have added a new tap to add option that switches to these views for selection.  We have also optimized the action bar in the process to make it easier to view information on customers waiting for or occupying a resource and perform key actions like clearing, serving, and moving.

When you select an open table the action bar at the bottom will show the name & size, and the Add button will allow you to choose a party from the waitlist to assign to this resource. 

After a party is assigned to a table, tapping on that table will allow you to mark that customer as served (checking them off the waitlist), and show the table as occupied. 

Once a party is seated, tapping on their table will bring up an action bar to display the party’s name, size, and how long they have been there. Pressing the Current button will give options to move the party to another table, or clear that resource to mark it as available. You can also clear a party from a table by pressing their current ‘Taken’ status on the left of the action bar and selecting ‘Open.’

On the waitlist screen there are new options for assigning a party to a table. If you press in the Assign column for a party, you’ll see a list of tables that you can assign the party to. There will also be a new button at the top right of this menu, for Grid or Floor (depending on what view you’re using). Pressing that button would take you to the grid or floor view, where you could then tap on a table to assign the party. 

Once you choose Grid or Floor, the app will remember your selection and default you to that for future selections. The Floor/Grid button on the upper right will switch between those two views. If you prefer the list of tables, just choose Use Pop-up on the upper left. For the floorplan view, if you have more than one room you will also see your menu on the upper right to switch between rooms. 

When assigning a party to multiple tables, just press and hold the first one and then you will be able to select more. Press Done on the upper right to finish assigning multiple tables.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 .

From the perspective of a restaurant customer:

If you had told me in January that 2020 was going to the year of a pandemic, that wearing a mask to the supermarket would be necessary, and we’d all be forced into quarantine for weeks on end, I would have laughed out loud. This year has been nothing but strange, I think we all agree on that, and as we begin to transition into “normalcy,” we are all curious as to what the new normal will look like. And as nerve wracking as it may be, I personally can say I am excited. I’m excited to see friends and family, I’m excited to go to the beach, and I’m most excited to get back to restaurants. 

I’ve always had an immense passion and love for food, and as much as I love to cook, I am very over it. As cities and states begin to roll out their reopening plans, restaurants are opening their doors to customers for both patio and indoor dining options. But even as restrictions lift, there are still rules and regulations in place to keep both guests and staff safe, which I appreciate deeply. Although I am excited to sit with friends and enjoy a meal at my favorite places, I also want to ensure that we are being safe and remaining healthy.

My favorite restaurant might not look identical to pre Coronavirus times, nor are the rules in place going to be the same. But, as a guest, it’s important to respect and embrace these differences. My server will more than likely be wearing a mask, I may not be able to sit at a table with 10+ of my closest friends, and I may be asked to wait in my car, rather than at the bar, for my table. All of these changes are ok! I will survive! The restaurants are doing the best they can during a seriously challenging time and it’s important as guests to show up, show support, and show understanding. 

The list of differences from past to present can go on and on, but I think focusing on the future and adapting to what many are calling the “new normal” is what is most important. Restaurants are equipped with the best systems, staff, and regulations and we now have to be the best customers and come equipped with all they ask for. 

Top Three Things to Remember When Dining Out:

Social Distance: Remember to stay 6 ft. away from anyone outside of your party, when possible. To help both the customers and the staff during this transition, restaurants may invest in an app like Waitlist Me. Waitlist Me provides staff with easy and effective ways to manage their waitlist and reservations both in Coronavirus and non-pandemic times. Being able to send a text message to a guest when their table is ready so they don’t have to wait inside is a great feature for reducing crowds. 

Hygiene, hygiene, and more hygiene! It may be the restaurant’s job to sanitize more frequently and ensure their staff is healthy; but it is your job to always wash your hands, and to check your own health before walking in the doors.

Respect the guidelines put in place by each individual restaurant. Many restaurants are urging guests to wear masks when possible. Some are asking you to please sanitize your hands before entering. And, others have detailed layouts for guests to follow to help prevent exposure. The list goes on, so pay attention and read the signs! 

You might look at this list and scoff, but remember, the restaurant may not look the same and the rules might not be the same but the food IS still the same, and that’s really what is important. So if you’re like me and you have a deep admiration for all things food, then get out and support your favorite spot (and all their new quirks) – again, and again, again. 

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 .

COVID-19 hit the United States hard in March and shut down many businesses. Along with closures came new safety regulations for restaurants, for those that were able to stay open at all. When dining rooms and patios were forced to close, many restaurants moved to take-out only and created elaborate plans to ensure the safety of customers and staff. As cities and states have begun to slowly allow businesses to reopen, restaurants have been faced with a multitude of new regulations and guidelines for ensuring the safety of their operations.

What To Think About Before Re-Opening:

There are quite a few factors to consider when starting to re-open restaurants. Building trust is key. Although most people are itching to return to their normal life, many also want to make sure that places they go are upholding strict guidelines and rules to ensure the safety of guests, employees, and families. A few ways to build this trust and keep customers and happy and coming back to your restaurant:

    –   Maintain distancing guidelines between guests and staff.

    –   Increase the amount of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting that is done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

    –   Update your illness policy to include fever and respiratory symptoms and ensure that sick people are staying home.

    –   Have staff wear masks when possible.

    –   Ensure that existing and new employees are trained on proper hygiene, health policies, and guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

    –   Follow recommendations from the CDC as well as local and national public health authorities.

This might seem like a lot to implement, and it might take a bit of time to adjust, but there are apps, such as Waitlist Me, that can help with some of these challenges

Keeping Crowd Sizes Down with Waitlist Me

Another important factor to a smooth re-opening is ensuring that there are rules in place to limit the crowd sizes in the restaurant. Currently, no one wants to eat with someone hovering next to their table waiting for a seat, nor do people want to be stuck in a crowded waiting area. Waitlist Me can help in a couple ways.

Guests can put their name in with the hostesses and then freely wait elsewhere to be notified of a table opening via text. When a guest is added to the waitlist, they will receive a confirmation text message that will include a link to the restaurant’s public waitlist, allowing them to see where they are in line. They will also receive a text message when their table is ready. This type of consistency not only improves the waiting experience, but also helps with social distancing during the Coronavirus Era. Your customers can wait where they like, with more room to breathe and relax, without fear of missing out on a table.

Allowing Remote Check In

Waitlist Me also offers Self Check In as an option for guests to check wait times and add themselves to the waitlist. This feature can be enabled for Google as well as integrated into a website with the Waitlist Me Widget. Customers can also send reservation requests via the widget, cutting down on the need for phone calls to take reservations, and saving your staff time.

Creating New Floor Plans with Waitlist Me

Maintaining social distancing guidelines is very important to guests and employees. States are implementing rules and regulations that uphold these guidelines, such as limiting dining rooms to 50% capacity or keeping tables at least 6 ft. apart. With these new challenges, it can help to have a flexible way to update and manage floorplans. Waitlist Me lets you easily adjust your available tables to your capacity. The floorplan view can also help visualize a new plan prior to moving the tables to ensure the set up makes sense and allows for proper distancing.

These are a few of the ways Waitlist Me can help, and more can be found on our website.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 .

After mere weeks in quarantine, Americans went hog-wild with their new pet adoptions. Instagram feeds are packed with newly adopted furry critters, and there’s no sign of a let-up any time soon. If the coronavirus has a single silver lining, this just might be it.

With the flurry of potential pet parents, now is the perfect time to put your best paw forward. Enter Waitlist Me, a waitlist and reservation app that will help you score a gold star for customer service and keep your customers, volunteers, and pets as healthy as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some ways animal shelters can use Waitlist Me right now to facilitate pet adoptions during COVID-19 and beyond.

#1. Corral crowds in their cars

Our collective new normal involves all sorts of protocols to keep us safe and healthy. We have adapted: We’re wearing masks in public, we’re standing 6 feet apart, and we’re shopping from the comfort of our cars to minimize the spread of coronavirus.

Enlisting cars as a crowd control tool is easy to do with Waitlist Me. Use our custom text notification feature to share simple coronavirus instructions with your customers, like to wait in their car until they are notified.  You can include this in the confirmation text that customers receive when you check them in or they schedule themselves.  Then when you are ready for them, just press a button to send them a notification it is their turn. If they reply back to a text you will see their message in the Waitlist Me app, and our Pro service includes an option to send open text responses to these messages for things like answering questions.

#2. Spread out demand with appointments

Another way to avoid a throng of eager adopters busting down your door is to encourage customers to make appointments.  This can help spread out demand to less busier times or can be used to avoid common bottlenecks that might require a specific staffer or area of your business. It can also help ensure you have the right number of staffers and volunteers when and where you may need them. 

Customers can use Waitlist Me’s web widget to quickly schedule an appointment with a few clicks, so they’ll be assured of their cuddle time and you’ll save staff’s time by letting people self-schedule. The Pro version of the service also comes with additional ways to customize the widget and set scheduling limits.

#3. Keep groups separate—and spaces sanitized

Some shelters across the nation are seeing their traffic skyrocket up to 90 percent! Because shelters are designed to make the most out of limited space, you often find yourself in tight quarters—not great when we need to be particularly germ-conscious.

That’s where Waitlist Me’s resource management feature comes into play. It’s completely flexible, making it easy to reconstruct the layout of your workspace within the app. When guests check in, you can assign them to a staff member or to an area, like your kitten play room, an application area, or a visiting room where they can get to know different animals. Once those guests leave, you know exactly where they’ve been—and you can sanitize accordingly.

And because you can use Waitlist Me on multiple devices, all your employees and volunteers can see where everyone is with a single glance. This lets you minimize potential contact as well as the need to have groups of guests pass each other in narrow spaces. Win-win!