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How to Improve Restaurant Table Turnover – Ultimate Guide

How to Improve Restaurant Table Turnover

What is Table Turnover for Restaurants?

Table turnover is simply a method of measurement to see how efficiently a restaurant can serve its customers and generate revenue.

So let’s say your restaurant has 20 tables and you can serve 40 parties in an hour – that leaves you with a table turnover rate of 2 on average on that particular hour.

A variety of factors like restaurant type, cuisine, staff performance, and the overall layout of the restaurant can influence table turnover.

Simply put, a fast food joint will have a better table turnover rate than a full-service steakhouse. Fast food joints need to have a better turnover rate to profit via maximizing volume.

However, since the steakhouse’s average spend per customer is higher, it’s okay that their table turnover is on the lower end since they have higher margins.

Fine dining restaurants are more likely to keep table turnover low because they emphasize quality and experience.

Depending on the restaurant and target market, a low turnover rate will affect the overall profit for most restaurants and could mean that they’re not as efficient as they could be.

On the flip side, a restaurant with a turnover rate that is too high could lead to problems as well, such as overall service and food quality and overbooking – all of which could lead to a decrease in satisfaction and loyalty.

How to Calculate Table Turnover in a Restaurant - Table Turnover Formula

To calculate the table turnover rate, you need to know two things: the number of parties (or customers) served and the number of available tables in a given period. The formula for the table turnover rate is:

Table Turnover Rate = Number of Parties/Number of Tables

Let’s take the fine-dining restaurant example that we talked about earlier. Let’s say you have 10 tables and you can serve 10 parties per hour.

This means that your turnover is 1. This essentially means that you’re serving 1 party per table per hour.

Remember, this seems low for most restaurants but fine-dining establishments can charge more by providing great service and food – so it’s expected that customers take a longer time in the restaurant.

What is a Good Table Turnover Rate?

On average, a good table turnover rate is somewhere around 1.5 to 2 for most restaurants. However, it’s important to take into account the type of restaurant as well as the overall layout.

For fast food restaurants, it’s not uncommon for them to reach a table turnover rate of 3 per hour, which means that they can seat 3 parties per table in a given hour.

On the other hand, full-service restaurants can expect a turnover of around 1 to 1.5, simply because of its nature.

Restaurants like these typically serve appetizers, entrees, and desserts – which adds to the overall lower turnover rate.

The table turnover rate for fine-dining restaurants is somewhere in the ballpark of 0.75 to 1.5.

As we’ve mentioned, this is mainly because these restaurants put a lot of emphasis on service and quality.

How to Improve Your Restaurant’s Table Turnover

For this point, let’s assume you’re an average casual restaurant that aims to improve your restaurant’s table turnover. These ways are practical and actionable, and you can implement them right now!

Keep Your Menu Short & Concise

A concise menu is great for many things, but especially for improving restaurant turnover. Essentially, it allows guests to know what they want and reduces the ordering time.

It can be hard for some varied menu restaurants, which rely on having a wide selection of food as a unique selling point. Think of chains like Applebee’s or Chilli’s.

But for the majority of other restaurants, it can be done. If you take a look at your sales data, usually the top 10 menu items will make up most of your orders.

If most of your orders are made up of maybe 5 times, it’s probably time to clean up your menu.

Other benefits might include the need to not order so many types of ingredients, improving order accuracy, and preserving the overall food quality.

Streamline the Ordering Process

Online ordering system to increase table turnover
An online menu can help reduce staff dependency and increase your table turnover!

Another way to increase table turnover is to just streamline the ordering process. During peak hours, it’ll be hard for waiters to be able to attend to every table on time.

This can lead to lines out the door during peak hours and customers being frustrated that they can’t find a waiter to attend to their needs.

An online menu system can fix that, the ones that people can access by scanning a QR code.

Some people don’t like that, especially customers who are on the older end of the spectrum, but there’s no denying that it comes in handy during peak hours.

We at KlikNRoll believe that we’ve created the perfect one that anyone can use seamlessly.

Essentially, it’s a webpage that anyone can access using any device (no need for customers to download any apps).

What’s more, is that we let you keep all the data and give you full customization freedom to make sure your online menu has the best chance of upselling and converting. Most other online menu platforms don’t allow for that.

You can also have a section to sell your products online, maybe condiments like pasta sauce or chili oil for example – all integrated into one easy-to-access webpage.

If you’re interested in this online menu solution, check out our product page for more information using the button below!

Let Customers Pre-Order & Reserve Their Tables in Advance

Online booking system preorder
This sample is designed around buffet restaurants but you can customize it to fit any type of restaurants!

Somewhat related to the previous point, you can increase your overall table turnover rate using a combination of table reservations and pre-ordering.

By using this, you’re able to have the power of clairvoyance, which means you’ll know exactly what parties will order beforehand and you’ll be able to streamline the kitchen.

Not to mention, pre-orders will reduce the time between customers sitting down and ordering since pre-orders can be sent to the kitchen upon guest arrival.

Not many online booking systems allow for pre-orders and other things like deposit collection or payment in advance.

Luckily for you, we do have all of that and more with our Click2Book online reservation module!

Encourage Off-Peak Reservations

Most restaurants have busy and slow times during the day or night unless they are always packed with customers.

The location of your restaurant also matters. For example, if you mainly serve office workers, your peak hours will likely be weekdays from 12 to 2, and from 6 to 8 after work.

You can optimize your table turnover and attract more customers throughout the day by offering incentives like free items or discounts to loyal customers who come during off-peak hours like maybe from 3 to 4.

This will enhance the customer experience and loyalty of your regular customers, as well as allow you to accommodate more guests during peak hours.

This will increase your chances of gaining even more loyal customers, as you can provide better service and food when the restaurant is not overcrowded during peak hours.

Try Out Unique Seating Solutions for Smaller Parties

Unique seating arrangements can be great for smaller parties or individuals!

Table turnover is not only about groups of people but also about the number of individual customers per table in a certain period.

You can increase this by using unique seating solutions for smaller parties of 3 or less or individuals. Unique seating solutions are places other than tables that individuals are comfortable sitting at.

These usually include a bar or dinettes that are placed strategically for restaurants, bars, or cafes.

Outdoor seating is another good option to have more tables and improve table turnover, if you can provide it. You can also do the same if you have a terrace that you can use!

Create a Prix Fixe Menu

Sample of a Price Fixed Menu
A prix fixe menu can help your customers decide on what they want faster!

If it makes sense for you, a Prix Fixe (Fixed-Price) menu is an incredible way to speed up the service time thus leading to better turnover.

If you’re not entirely familiar, a prix fix menu usually comes with an appetizer, main course, and dessert option – all for a fixed price.

Customers can pick and choose one dish from each category (like the image that we’ve provided above).

On top of being able to reduce the ordering time, you can make the food items in batches and be able to serve food at a faster rate. And if you do it well, you’re able to save cost on ingredients by buying in bulk!

Our online menu system can also accommodate a prix-fix menu, no problem! Remember, click the button below to get started!

Grant Staff Autonomy & Encourage Critical Thinking

Giving staff autonomy and fostering critical thinking is a good practice for almost every restaurant.

Imagine if every decision had to go through the manager, it would take more time to resolve customer requests.

If you empower your staff with some autonomy and authority, your restaurant will be more productive and customers will be more satisfied.

Autonomy does not mean letting them do whatever they want, it could be small but impactful things like being able to return orders for a replacement or giving vouchers as compensation.

Soft skills such as critical thinking are also very important so that staff members can solve problems on their own and deal with issues as they arise, without having to always ask a manager.

Many people believe that soft skills are innate and cannot be learned. However, there are many guides on soft skills out there to help you out!

Set a Time Limit For Each Table

If all else fails, you can resort to setting a time limit for each table. This is dependent on the type of restaurant that you operate, but this should be a last resort.

Customers won’t appreciate it if they’re rushed and it’ll be a balancing act of keeping customers happy while trying to improve turnover.

It does make sense if you’re a casual restaurant with a lot of customers during peak hours, but exercise this with caution. Full-service restaurants should avoid this at all costs because it can ruin the overall experience.

Conclusion

Improving restaurant turnover is not easy, no one said it was. But by following the tips and strategies we’ve shared in this article, you can better optimize your table turnover rate and increase overall revenue.

Of course, you don’t have to do all these things at once. You can start with one or two and see how they work for you. Experiment with different combinations to find what works for you and your restaurant, since every restaurant is different.

Remember, improving table turnover is not only about serving more customers in less time but also about providing a better customer experience and building loyalty.

You want your customers to come back again and again, and to spread the word about your restaurant.

That’s why we recommend using our online menu and reservation system, KlikNRoll, to help you improve your table turnover and your customer satisfaction.

KlikNRoll is the ultimate solution for improving restaurant table turnover. Don’t miss this opportunity to take your restaurant to the next level. Click the button below to get started today!

Last Updated by March 6, 2024
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