Thursday, July 24th, 2014 .

BL Sign

Little Star Pizza took San Francisco by storm in 2004 by quickly becoming one of the best pizzerias in the city. Known for its Chicago-style deep-dish pizza with cornmeal crust, Little Star quickly garnered five-star customer reviews and a loyal following among local residents. There are now three Little Star Pizza restaurants in operation throughout the urban San Francisco region and another four Blue Line Pizza locations, owned by the same company, in the surrounding suburbs.

 

The two restaurant concepts do not take reservations, which means Little Star diners wait anywhere from 90- 120 minutes for a table on weekends, said founder Angela Pace.And wait times at sister chain Blue Line Pizza run anywhere from 60-to-90 minutes.

“Not taking reservations was a conscious decision because, for us, the community does so much for us that we don’t want anyone to not get served because we’re booked with reservations,” Pace said. “We want to make sure our dining room is always there for our neighbors and neighborhoods.”

In order to make customer wait times easier to manage, the company enlisted the help of WaitList, the country’s fastest growing wait list app available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. The app was launched in 2012 and has seated to date nearly 40 million diners.

“The use of technology is unique to a place like Blue Line because we really want to focus on the guest,” Pace said. “We’ve always been very open to technology and willing to embrace it as an organization.”

Pace said the company chose NoshList from a variety of options because of its ease of use for customers and staff.

“We tried so many different things that all had their own little merits. Ultimately, we had to find a solution that we knew would work for us. Not just me personally but for our entire staff,” Pace said. “It boiled down to NoshList being so easy to use and straightforward, and the user interface is very simple and direct.”

BG Upper Patio night

 

One concern with the app was if customers would be hesitant to give out their cell phone numbers in order to interact with the app; however, adoption has been widely accepted.

“We even created an explanation of how the system works for our hostess to use on hesitant customers, but our hostess doesn’t even get to it. We’ve had no pushback,” Pace said.

The company’s philosophy toward the use of technology has been to use it as a tool to improve the guest experience. By replacing pad and paper or buzzer seating systems, waitlist apps are changing one of the most arguably antiquated seating systems in the industry.

The NoshList wait list app also does what other systems cannot: such as automatically calculate average wait times for guests. This takes the guesswork out of estimating seating times for restaurant patrons. It also frees up restaurant staff to focus on other areas of the customer experience.

“Much of today’s wait list application technology can support two-way communication between restaurant staff and guests. This two-way communication system is great because it gives guests the freedom to decide whether they want to sit and wait at the restaurant or walk around the area knowing they won’t be forgotten when their table is ready,” said Craig Walker, founder of NoshList. “Obviously we think our NoshList app provides the best wait list app functionality available today.”

In addition to the core seating and management features, NoshList enables restaurant staff to customize the notifications and public view of the waitlist that users can check from their phone or from anywhere. Customers can even add themselves to a wait list from wherever they may be if a restaurant turns on this feature. The company also recently unveiled a reservations feature which opens the door for continued innovation in waitlist technology.

“Now, restaurant operators don’t have to rely on web sites or single-use apps to handle reservations and manage a wait list. In this way, technology such as ours will continue to integrate into it as much functionality an operator needs to run their businesses better on the back end while improving the guest experience on the front,” Walker said.

Functionality was another key driver behind Blue Line’s decision to implement and use NoshList.

“We found that a lot of other technology had a lot of bells and whistles that ultimately did not get used,” Pace said. “NoshList has bells and whistles as well, but it truly is functional. We feel that NoshList in particular has made it so much easier to manage and track our wait list and now people can walk down the street and know they’re going to get paged when their table is ready. From the customer standpoint, it has really come down to peace of mind.”

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Thursday, May 11th, 2017 .

With the biggest eating-out day of the year upon us, the big question is this: How are you going to make Mother’s Day a big success for your restaurant?

It’s not just about getting people in the door. It’s not even about serving the best food in town. It’s about giving your customers the best overall experience possible—one that will keep them returning long after Mother’s Day ends. And that experience starts the minute they walk through the door.

Here are 3 ways Waitlist Me wows customers while they wait for their table

Accurate wait time estimates make you look like a pro

Shuffling through loose papers doesn’t inspire confidence. Neither does the look on your host’s face when she’s guessing when that table in the corner will turn.

Waitlist Me takes the guesswork out of time estimates. The app shows estimated waits by table size, so you have your answer with a quick look, whether it’s a table for two or ten.  Plus, it tracks how long customers have been waiting in real time, right next to the time they were quoted, so you can better adjust for surges and lulls in visitors to fine tune your quote accuracy.

Text alerts let customers relax while they wait

No one wants to be tethered to a restaurant lobby—and a cluster of hungry people waiting for a table can be a turn-off for walk-ins.

Waitlist Me lets you text guests when their table is ready, which means they can wander freely without worrying that they’ll miss their name being called. We’ve even made it easy for them to let you know they’re on their way, or that they need to cancel with a simple text response.

A public waitlist allows customers to see where they are in line (and plan accordingly)

An out-the-door line keeps you busy enough. Add the inevitable “how long will it be?” grumbles to the mix, and you’ve got mayhem on your Mother’s Day menu.

When you add a customer to your waitlist, Waitlist Me sends them a confirmation text automatically. That text includes a link to your public waitlist, empowering them to check on their place in line wherever they are, whenever they want.  The less time your team has to spend providing updated estimates to the people waiting, the more time they can spend greeting and making guests feel welcome.

A 5-minute fix? You bet.

You can start using Waitlist Me now on any iOS, Android, or web-accessible device. Getting started is easy, and you can get it up and running in less time than it takes you to fire up your restaurant’s most popular dish. Now that’s a win!

Monday, May 14th, 2018 .

Muslims around the world are entering Ramadan, the holiest time in the Islamic calendar. No matter what type of business you run—a big-box retailer or boutique, a restaurant or bar, a gym or studio, a salon, a spa, or a resort— you may see changes in your business traffic during this time.  Here are some tips for using Waitlist Me to improve customer service during the month of Ramadan.

Take walk-ins and reservations

Ramadan observants fast during daylight hours, but once the sun sets, they’re all about big family dinners packed with delicacies. If you run a restaurant that doesn’t usually take reservations, Waitlist Me makes it easy to start—or to take them when you need them, like when a large party is ready to dig in.

Bonus! Our Free-level version lets you take same-day reservations, and our Premium-level app offers more robust reservation features, like a calendar view and a web widget.

Use waitlists to accommodate every client, every time

From haircuts to yoga classes, urgent care visits to mani-pedis, if your business is in a Muslim community, you’ll probably see more foot traffic after dinner. Waitlists can help you keep up with the changing traffic patterns and ensure that you keep all of your customers happy, day-in and day-out.

Bonus! The Premium-level Add Yourself Web Widget lets customers join a waitlist for a particular service or piece of equipment from wherever they are, whether that’s the office, a restaurant, or the next block over.

Post special offers, events, and changes to your hours where everyone can see them

Whether you’re offering celebratory 2-for-1 appetizers or are starting trivia a little later this month to accommodate your Muslim guests’ daylight restrictions, Waitlist Me’s public waitlist view lets you keep all your guests in the know on how busy you are.

Bonus! With Waitlist Me Pro, your public waitlist is completely customizable. Add your brand colors, your logo, even a silly video. It’s up to you!

Manage multiple locations from one account

There’s no need to sign in and out of different accounts, or to check up with your store managers to ensure they’re on the ball. Our Multi-Location Management feature lets you make whatever changes you want to your public waitlist, feedback surveys, and business hours.

Bonus! Curious to see if your changes are making an impact? Multi-Location Management lets you see how your businesses are fairing in real time and check each location’s traffic analytics.

Get feedback in a snap

Are your customers loving your changes? Is there something you could be doing better? Waitlist Me Pro lets you send a link straight to your guests’ smartphones after their visits so they can leave a rating and tell you how much you rock (and what you can do better in the future).

Waitlist Me makes it simple to know the best place to seat your next customer. Our unique approach to section management blends psychology, data science, and cutting-edge design principles to create an intuitive tool that restaurant staff can pick up in a few minutes and enjoy using.  See how it works in this video:

 

The old way of scribbling on a laminated floor plan with a grease pen is messy and inefficient. It’s hard to estimate wait times and optimize table assignments without seeing key information like how long tables have been occupied.

Most apps that try to use data to improve on the grease pen approach make the mistake of clinging to the old-fashioned floor map diagram, which is deceptively complex. Why? Searching the whole map for the information you need is slow. Comparing different clusters of shapes, colors, and symbols is complicated. And interpreting a bunch of unordered data, like little progress bars, spread across all the tables, is very difficult. To name a few reasons.

All this extra complexity is unnecessary. Wait staff shouldn’t need a map to find tables after a couple days on the job. What they need is a fair, easy, intuitive way to know where to seat the next customer.

Look how much simpler it is when you group tables into a framework where the data can work for you, and you can read key information naturally like a book, in ordered lines, from top to bottom and left to right.

 

Tables are grouped by sections, and sorted by availability to make comparisons and decisions simple. The open tables for each section stand out in green on the left. Tables that have been occupied the longest show first, with the time displayed in the lower left. So it is easy to do a quick scan within a section to see how busy it is, as well as compare across sections.

 

Tapping on a table will bring up an action bar for adding customers to tables, clearing tables when done, changing table statuses, and more. This page has a good overview and video of the other table management features.

If you organize your tables and sections differently by day or time, Waitlist Me also gives you the flexibility to switch between different layouts. For example, you might divide tables into 6 sections for a busy weekend night, but only need 3 for a regular weekday night. By tapping on the Layouts link in the top right, you can choose from among your saved layouts and regroup your tables and sections on the fly.

 

Creating and editing sections layouts can be done in the app settings under Manage Assignments. There you can also choose to have different colors represent different sections or special tables within a section or layout as well.

 

With Waitlist Me’s table management features, your customers will get better service, with less waiting. Your employees will get their fair share of the work, and the tips. And you’ll have a more efficient restaurant, and a more profitable business.

Stop struggling with floor maps. Take control of your tables, and your business, with Waitlist Me.

Thursday, March 24th, 2016 .

Waitlist Me has a couple options for allowing customers to add themselves to the waitlist and reservations.  It also offers variety of ways to customize the process to the needs of different businesses.

A few months ago we released a web widget that businesses can easily add to their websites.  Many businesses told us how much they liked the new widget.  As part of the feedback we received, we found ways we could make implementing and using the new widget even simpler, and we added an option to use the widget on a hosted page.

The new widget page allows businesses to just link to their unique URL from a website, blog, email, or whatever.  The widget page is easier for less tech savvy businesses, and there is no need to involve a web developer to make sure it is added correctly to the website.

The widget page is also especially well-suited for businesses that allow people to add themselves to the list when they arrive at the business.  All you have to do is put the URL into the browser of any tablet and you have your own check-in station.  By setting the widget option to only show the “Add Yourself” screen, and not the estimated wait you might show on a website, it simplifies the page even further. You can also add custom instructions and images to the bottom of the page for more clarity.

iPad stand1 copy

 

When asking customers to enter themselves, the simpler you make the interface, the less chances there are for mistakes and frustration.  The hosted widget page makes it easy for your customers to add themselves, which makes it easier for you.