How to improve table turns and diner satisfaction with analytics

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By John Yi

It seems like big data is everywhere you look these days. From the targeted ads you see online as you scroll through your favorite websites and social media feeds, to the apps you use to navigate traffic and get to work on time, to fraud detection on your credit or debit cards.

And you know where else? Restaurants.

If you’re not using data and analytics to improve the efficiency of your restaurant, chances are your competition will soon be using it against you. But where to start?

Improving table turns is one of the most impactful ways to generate more revenue and keep customers happy. So why not start there?

The old way

In the past, restaurants have largely been run by gut instinct. You’d guess at what food to serve, what price points to use, what type of marketing to employ, how many staff members to have on hand at any given time. Then you’d adjust as any problems arose.

This often leads to a “we’ve always done it that way” mentality that keeps your business from reaching its true potential.

Meanwhile, your competitors are learning new, more efficient ways of doing things.

If you’re still largely running your business off hastily scribbled notes and easily smudged dry erase boards, you’ll soon be left in the dust.


Analytics and the restaurant industry

Today, thanks to technology used by nearly everyone, there’s a smarter way. What if you could manage your guests’ waiting time as they shopped nearby stores or ran errands? Predict busy and slow times with scientific precision? Deliver your menu along with daily specials directly to their phones? And they wouldn’t have to download or sign up for a thing?

All this and more can be managed easily thanks to helpful and forward-thinking restaurant waitlist apps. They’re surprisingly easy to use – your staff can be trained and ready to go quickly, so no wasting costly hours getting everybody up to speed. They can direct guests to interact with your social media pages, to help boost repeat visits and spread the love among their networks. They allow you to place targeted marketing messages right in front of your guests, and keep track of your most loyal customers so you can provide that extra level of personalized service. And they can help you manage your tables in a way that will increase both revenue and customer satisfaction.

A top shelf example

Take Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Chicago as an example. In the highly competitive deep dish pizza climate, Malnati’s decided they needed a way to streamline their operation. They chose a digital waitlist app and were delighted with its results. In addition to doubling their table turns, they managed to increase online and social engagement by 17 per cent, and gained about 20 minutes of online engagement per mobile marketing site visit. Guests got access to personalized food, drink, and entertainment content, and front end staff was able to more efficiently manage the waitlist.

About the author:

John Yi is the son of a South Korean immigrant. His parents instilled an entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge of the restaurant industry in him from a young age. John’s first company was a dog-walking business, which he founded with his brother when he was 8 years old. After this, he and his brother followed in their parents’ footsteps by holding various roles in the restaurant industry – ranging from host to manager. In college, John had the opportunity to work with a number of business owners and entrepreneurs through his role as an analyst at the Chicago Board of Trade. This further reinforced his entrepreneurial itch and pushed John and his brother to start NextME, a digital waitlist app for restaurants. NextME’s restaurant partners include Lou Malnati’s, Le Pain Quotidien, and Kuma’s Corner. They have been featured in The Eater, Food & Wine Magazine, and the Chicago Tribune.

John also serves as a mentor at DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and is an advisor at The Garage, Northwestern University’s hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation.

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