How to make table service more profitable and delight customers

Bars and restaurants are in a battle to recoup months of lost revenue. But your waiting staff can give you a huge boost — if you put the right tech in their hands.

Ever been stuck in a restaurant, waiting an eternity for food?  Perhaps it started well. The cheery waiting staff took your order — and you sat back and relaxed. But 30, 40 or 50 minutes passed by with no food. At dinner, this can be a mood-killer. During a busy lunchtime, it can be a disaster.

Once your order arrives, if there’s something wrong, you don’t think it’s even worth mentioning because you fear it will take too long to sort out. And although you’d like an extra drink or a dessert, you decide not to bother. You vow never to return again. Instead, you’ll leave a poor review.

This scenario is all too common. But there’s a way to fix it.

Let’s look at three areas where restaurants can transform the situation:

1) Ordering at the table

Enabling waiting staff to place orders on a tablet or smartphone is a quick win if you’re using an app with your complete menu and special offers. It’s fast and can prove more accurate than a notepad.

Ordering at the table with guests means less pressure, saving your staff from having to dash back and key entire orders into a POS terminal. The SmartOrder app from iiko has been designed with the help of leading experts from Germany and Italy, where use of handhelds is industry standard. The speed of operation and ergonomics are key – and our app requires minimal clicks to select meals and drinks. What’s more, if your app is connected to an all-in-one restaurant solution, then everything else in your system will update automatically with each order — your sales, inventory, forecasts, and so on. 

2) Sending orders to the kitchen — in a click

This is a huge game changer. So often, waiting staff take an order but there’s a delay before it reaches the kitchen. Staff move onto the next table and start taking more orders. Then other guests ask questions or request more food or drinks — and another group arrives and wants to be seated.

Sometimes, 10 minutes might elapse since an order is placed. Finally, waiting staff queue at the terminal and key in all their orders. Kitchen staff have been waiting around in the meantime, but now they’re hit by a glut of orders all at once. As delays then build, this can increase friction between chefs and waiting staff.

However, you can avoid this logjam by arming your waiting staff with the same app on their devices. It can send each order direct to the kitchen in a single click — before they leave the table. Now the kitchen can cook in a more timely way, getting food to the customer sooner.

3) Accepting payments instantly

Enabling your staff to take payments at the table on the devices is another big win. Staff don’t need to go hunting for the restaurants’ card machines or queue at the bar to print out the bill, while customers get restless.

Using SmartOrder on the PAX or Clover Android payment terminals – for a complete Smart Table Service solution -every member of your team can take orders and accept secure payments instantly. Receipts can be printed, emailed or sent by text.

The outcome?

“Everyone wins when table service works this easily,” says Kirill Hudjakov, International Business Development Director at iiko. “You’re empowering your waiting staff to enhance the guest experience as well as helping their colleagues in the kitchen.

“On average, waiting staff could each be walking 10km in just a few hours between the tables, bar, terminal and kitchen. Now they can stay closer to customers and focus more on them.

“Rather than being stressed and dashing around, your team will be more relaxed and be able to give better service and upsell items. Having more attentive waiting staff makes guests happier, so they’re more inclined to order more items spontaneously, give larger tips and write positive reviews.”

Revenue up by 20%

For evidence, Kirill points to the experience of a European chain with 35 restaurants. Using a table service order-and-pay system, the business removed bottlenecks in its processes and increased revenue by 20%.

This isn’t just because customers tend to spend more on average and return more often. With the right tech, waiting staff may be able to manage a zone of six tables instead of four. And because service moves faster, you may be able to turn three tables instead of two.

At a time when every business needs to work smarter, Smart Table Service from iiko seems like an obvious move in the right direction.