Friday, September 28th, 2018 .

Customer experience is one very important thing you can’t afford to skimp on. That five-star review you’re looking for starts as soon as guests walk through your front door.

The good news: Customer experience is the easiest thing for restaurants to fix. Still, scads of otherwise-awesome spots lose stars before diners take their seats!

Read on to find out where they’re going wrong—and one so-easy-we-can’t-believe-not-everyone-is-using-it way to wow guests, garner top-notch reviews, and keep customers coming back for more.

5 signs your waiting area is turning off your diners

Could your waitlist use an upgrade? If your restaurant is facing any of these five dining experience problems, it’s time to revamp the way your customers wait.

It’s cramped. If it’s tough to squeeze in a party of four between your entry way and your hostess stand, you’re setting your guests up for discomfort right off the bat. The longer they stand there—and make way for new arrivals and passing busboys—the less they’ll enjoy their dining experience.

It’s crowded. Packing guests in like sardines sounds great in theory, but it’s really a disaster waiting to happen. When hungry guests walk in and see a crowd ahead of them, they’re liable to walk right back out—and go to the restaurant across the street.

It’s noisy. A little chatter and some mood music? Totally fine. Guests straining to hear their names being called? Absolutely not. No one should have to miss out on conversation with their tablemates because they’re afraid of losing their spot in line.

It’s dull or dingy. Thanks to smartphones and Instagram feeds, diners arrive at your door with spotty attention spans and high expectations. There’s lots of leeway between busting your budget and giving them a chance to be unimpressed from the get-go.

It’s nonexistent. We’re all for small spots maximizing their floor space. A hole-in-the-wall hideaway is a fantastic find…until we have to park ourselves behind another diner’s chair because there isn’t room to wait anywhere else. Awkward.

The easy fix for your waiting area

You don’t have to invest in fancy chairs or a swanky patio or even a fresh coat of paint. All you need is a  waitlist app called Waitlist Me.

Waitlist Me allows you to set your diners free. Thanks to optional text message alerts and a waiting list with estimated wait times that they can check on their smartphones, they don’t have to worry about missing out. These simple features mean…

– Guests can wander around the area, eliminating the need to accommodate and entertain them inside your restaurant

– Your visible queue will be shorter and more attractive to newcomers

– Diners can enjoy quality time with friends and family without worrying that they’ll miss their name being called

– Your host will be free to provide excellent service because they won’t need to keep answering “how much longer?” questions (or avoid frustrated glares)

 

The app is simple to learn and flexible to use. Making it work for your dining space is easy, and training your front of house staff to use it takes mere minutes. It works on most tablets, mobile devices, or a desktop computer, and you can sync it to multiple devices at once so that multiple staff can use it at the same time. The more you use Waitlist Me, the better you’ll be at giving accurate wait times, which reduces walkaways and improves the customer experience as well as the bottom line.

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 .

Building on our launch of table section management features a few months ago, we have added some new features to make it even easier to know where to seat the next customer.  Labeled mode displays valuable activity metrics, section notes help you track servers covering each section, and additional waitlist integration makes it faster to do more from the table management screen.  Here is a video that highlights some of these new features and shows more on how to set up your section and layout management strategies:

 

Labeled mode

In “Labeled” mode, you’ll also see additional details about each section.  The “Open” metric shows the number of available tables as well as the total available seats at those tables.  The “Filled” metric shows the percentage of seats occupied in a section along with the counts of the occupied and total seats.  These key stats help make smarter decisions faster.  For instance, when a group comes in that’s too big for one table, you can instantly see which sections have enough empty tables, with enough empty seats, to accommodate them.  And you can also see how many of the seats in each section are filled, and ensure that each server gets their fair share of the work, not just their fair share of the tables.  These metrics are also visible in the “Size” and “Status” sorts for seeing breakdowns of availability by table size or overall status.

 

Section Notes

You can add comments to each section—for instance, to identify who’s working where, or to leave a reminder about a special event.  Just tap “Add Notes,” fill in your remarks, and then tap “Save.”  Instead of having to set up complicated server scheduling or other section tracking processes, the notes feature lets you make updates faster and more naturally.  It’s as easy as the common practice of writing server names on a laminated floor plan, but with all the advantages that our app has to offer for seeing real-time data, easily knowing where to seat the next customer, syncing information across devices, and more.

 

More Waitlist Integration

If you like working within the table management view of the app, it is nice to be able to assign customers from the waitlist, notify them their table is ready, and seat them at the table without having to switch back to the waitlist view.  Now you can.

From the action bar, when you tap on add, you can choose someone who’s already on your waiting list, and serve them at that table, right now.  If the table is already occupied, this removes the old party from the waitlist, and seats the new one, with one tap.

Or, if you’re not ready to seat them yet, you can just “assign” them to use that table next.  If the new customer has stepped away, you can even make the assignment and also send them an SMS text message, asking them to come back.  When they’re ready to take their seats, just tap on the table, and then tap “Next.”

You can also add a new customer by tapping a table.  Just fill in their name, phone number, and other details.  The table has already been selected, so you can go ahead and seat the customer right now, or add them to your waitlist, or even make a reservation, all in one place.

 

Quick Seating

When you aren’t crowded you probably seat customers at tables without taking their name.  You can still track that the table is occupied and for how long by using the status button in the action bar.  This makes it easy to keep track of your availability without having to create a customer for each table.  You may want to start tracking your table availability at a certain time, like before it gets busy, and you can mark all your tables that are currently occupied all at once.  Just press and hold on one table to use the multi-select feature, then tap on all the tables that are occupied, and then tap the status button to make them occupied.

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 .

The week coronavirus hit the United States, grocery stores around the nation announced a similar plan: They were going to stagger shopping times to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to the sectors of the population thought to be most vulnerable, the elderly and the immune-compromised.

Most stores’ plans restricted an hour or two of morning grocery shopping time to these customers—and in doing so, introduced a new phrase to the lexicon: staggered waiting.

Wait. Isn’t all waiting staggered?

The short answer: nope.

The old-school, American-style queue amounts to a mosh pit of toe-tapping customers. During normal circumstances, that’s not a good thing. It’s frustrating for your guests and it often leads to lost business. During a pandemic, it’s even worse. You don’t want tons of people crowded together, huffing hot air all over each other!

Waitlists and reservation tools, like Waitlist Me, help businesses stagger waiting in a way that’s become quite familiar. For business owners, it helps even out the traffic flow, ensuring excellent customer service and zero employee overwhelm. For customers, it ensures a positive, efficient experience. Win-win!

Grocery stores are using the idea of staggered waiting a bit differently than most of us are used to, but it’s not actually a new idea. In fact, you’ve probably experienced it before.

How billion-dollar businesses use staggered waiting

Disneyland, the pinnacle of efficient queues, uses a staggered waiting system to provide an extra-special experience to its VIP guests, many of whom visit the parks through organizations like Make A Wish. It’s also offered as a premium, upgraded feature for ticketholders.

Another example of staggered waiting happens weekly at many Target stores across the country. The big box retailer has offered sensory-free shopping hours for customers who are sensitive to light, noise, and crowds for years. It’s been a huge success, especially for those on the autism spectrum.

Ways your business can use staggered waiting today

If you’re looking for new ways to control crowds or traffic patterns, staggered waiting is a concept you should explore. Not sure how that might look for your workplace? Creative ideas can come from different places, and you can look around at what others are doing.  Here are a few examples of how businesses can stagger demand to improve workflows and better cope with COVID-19.

Quick tip: Use Waitlist Me’s custom text notifications to share new waiting policies or instructions with your clients and customers.

– Veterinary office using morning hours for feline appointments and afternoon hours for canine appointments to keep small waiting areas calm.

– Restaurants offering special deals or menu items at different times of the day to encourage people to dine at off-peak hours.

– Tutoring center facilitating study material pick-up staggered by the first letter of students’ last names.

– Auto mechanic offering reverse delivery appointment windows to pick-up cars (and meet with customers) at home rather than at the shop.

– Local organic farmer providing fresh produce home delivery staggered by their customers’ area.

– Doctor’s office splitting patient appointments by background. Immune-compromised and elderly patients are diagnosed car-side, while other patients come inside the office.

– Family-owned pharmacy providing special hours for curbside delivery and in-store pick-up.

Monday, December 6th, 2021 .

As you deck the halls and adjust your playlists, you should seriously consider giving your waitlist and table management system an update, too. Reboot your hostess stand and kick that datebook-and-grease-board duo to the curb. We have a shiny digital solution that will keep your season truly merry and bright. We’re talking about a waitlist app that brings your queue, your reservations, and your tables together on one easy-to-use interface. It’s called Waitlist Me Platinum.

Why do you need it? Let us count the ways:

#1. You want an intuitive way to balance walk-ins and reservations

What’s worse than losing a reservation for a twosome on date night? Losing a reservation for a 12-top the week before Christmas. Yikes. Still, it happens. It’s easy to forget a group—yes, even a big one—when you’re struggling to handle the nightly dinner rush.

When you upgrade your restaurant to a digital waitlist and reservation system, you say “goodbye” to misplaced reservations. With Waitlist Me Platinum, you can use our flexible reservation views to see what your restaurant has in store for the holiday season and beyond. Plus, we built the app to incorporate reservations and walk-ins seamlessly. That makes it a cinch to navigate your guest list, no matter what.

#2. You want to quickly see the best place to seat parties in your restaurant

Forget about peering behind the host stand to survey available seating options. With simple digital table management, confusion over where to seat your large and small parties is a relic of yesteryear.

Set up a spatial floorplan, including saving different layouts and sections, so you can quickly adjust by time of day or day of the week. If you do a server rotation, we’ve got that option covered too. You can also flip to the grid view to see your tables in efficient ways, including by availability, by size, and by server. They’re color coded so that you can immediately tell what’s open and what’s not. 

#3. You want walk-ins in addition to reservations scheduled

A wall of waiting guests in your lobby is intimidating those looking to avoid a crowd. To them, one large group waiting for a few tables to be pushed together can look like a dozen parties—and that’s enough to make anyone want to try the restaurant down the street rather than risk standing in a line.

Technology can quickly clear out your entryway when you use Waitlist Me’s text notification feature to set your guests free. Instead of lingering around your hostess stand waiting for their name to be called, they can grab a seat at the bar or wander around nearby shops without worrying about losing their table. When they’re next in line you can let them know with a text, no shouting necessary.

#4. You want to ensure that all your guests have a great experience

With a paper waitlist and reservation system, you’re constantly flipping back and forth and scrabbling around for notes. It’s unprepared and unprofessional, and that’s frustrating for your hosts and for your customers. 

Our app brings a new level of sophistication to eating out. We designed it to be easy to use from the get-go, which will decrease employee training time. And because Waitlist Me is so simple, hosts can focus their attention where it should be: on the guests, rather than on the paper they use to keep track of them.

Monday, September 6th, 2021 .

Due to significant fee increases from US mobile operators for sending text messages, we will no longer be including unlimited notifications in the subscription prices of US plans. Instead, we will include a bundle of notifications each month and the ability to pay separately for messages sent above this monthly allotment. These changes will affect all new signups from September 6, 2021 and apply to existing customers from Oct 4, 2021.

Our goals continue to be to offer the best value in waitlisting and scheduling services, while providing the flexibility for different businesses to send as many notifications as they need. It is important to note that the increases in mobile carrier fees affect all services sending text messages, and we believe that even with our latest plan updates that Waitlist Me will continue to be the price and value leader in its category.

The Premium plan includes 1,000 notifications per month, Pro includes 2,500 and Platinum 5,000. For businesses with heavier messaging needs, additional text and call notifications can be sent at a rate of $0.02 per notification, deducted from a prepaid balance. 

Monthly notifications reset when monthly subscription payments are processed. For users on annual plans, they reset every 30 days starting from the original payment date. Payments for adding to the prepaid balance can be made from the Account area of the Waitlist Me website, and there are settings to make it easy to auto-refresh the balance when it gets low.

Most businesses currently using our services would not hit these notification limits, and thus would not be affected by this update. Waitlist Me has several settings and options for sending notifications, so businesses can control when they don’t need to be sent. There are ways to monitor the usage of both the notifications that are included in the plan each month as well as the ones that are charged separately. The number of monthly text and call notifications sent can be viewed in the Settings area of the apps or in the Account area of the website. The website also shows a record of messages sent and the associated costs in the Messaging Costs area of the Billing History.