Restaurants Save Time and Money with a Waitlist App

Technology is everywhere, from the smartphones we carry with us to the advanced systems in our cars, to the tech in use at places of business large and small. And the restaurant industry is no exception.

From touchscreen food and beverage dispensers that offer diners more options and a serve yourself experience, to biodiesel converters that will convert your used fryer oil to fuel delivery trucks and catering vehicles, technology is improving the way we do business. And better yet, it’s improving the bottom line of an industry with infamously tight margins.

But how, exactly, is all of this progress helping restaurateurs to save? We’ll examine how just one inexpensive bit of technology can increase profits, decrease costs, and help your restaurant run more smoothly even at the busiest of times.

Stop Seating Parties Like It’s 1999

Many eateries who don’t accept reservations are still relying on those costly, germ-ridden pager systems they’ve been using for 20 years or more. Yet these systems are pretty much the opposite of technological progress.

In addition to the sizeable cost of outfitting a restaurant with these bits of last century tech, you’re also on the hook for the expense of maintaining them, and replacement costs that can reach up to $100 per unit. Then there are the man hours spent on upkeep, searching for wayward pagers when guests get tired of waiting and just ditch them in the waiting area, and the eyesore of a blinking tower of plastic that greets your guests when they approach the host’s table.

Ditch the pagers, and instead tap into the technology that most of your diners are already carrying with them anyway. With a waitlist app like NextME, you can replace all of that outdated equipment with a single sleek and sophisticated iPad or iPhone. Plus, the app is a simple solution to implement, and new host staff can be trained and up to speed quickly for a minimum of downtime. As an added bonus, guests don’t even have to download the app to take advantage of the NextME system! They simply give the host their phone numbers, then receive SMS texts notifying them of their wait times and positions in line.

Keep Guests Engaged to Prevent Walkouts

Hosts see it daily. A party comes in, puts their name on the list, and sits down to wait. But when their turn comes and their name is called, the party is nowhere to be found. The host then has to spend valuable time trying to locate them before moving on to the next party in line. It’s a frustrating experience for all involved.

With the NextME waitlist, customers can see exactly where they are in line, along with their estimated wait times - all via SMS texts without needing to download a separate app. Additionally, they can browse the menu, check out your current specials, read reviews on your social media pages, and otherwise engage with your brand while they wait. All of this leads to 25% fewer walkouts over all. But what about those who still leave? Since guests can confirm or cancel their table when they’re told it’s ready, your host won’t have to waste time tracking down wayward parties.

Double Your Table Turns

If you could double the number of tables you could serve per hour at peak times, what would that do for your bottom line? You may be wondering how such a thing is possible, and what it has to do with waitlist apps.

Displaying digital menus to patrons while they wait can significantly cut down on the time spent at the table trying to decide what to order. And since NextME’s customer facing mobile marketing page allows you to display your menu, specials, social media, and other promotional messages to each guest on the waitlist, you can expect tables to turn much faster – up to twice as fast! For those who are counting, that means double the revenue during peak dining hours.

Keep Your Front of the House Running Smoothly

Have you even calculated how much time your hosts spend answering questions about how much longer the wait will be? Or tracking down parties who have wandered off or pagers that have been ditched in the bushes outside? As you’ve already seen, waitlist apps can help eliminate each of these time sinks to allow your hosts to focus on what really matters: hospitality. And that increased staff efficiency means more productivity with fewer FTEs, and a less stressful shift for those working peak hours.

But Does It Really Save Money?

NextME’s track record has been proven, and restaurants can attest to the effect it’s had on their customer satisfaction as well as their bottom lines. Of course, your results will vary depending on the size of your restaurant and the volume of guests you seat on a given day, but it’s not unreasonable to suggest you’ll likely save thousands. In fact, Southport Grocery & Cafe, a tiny brunch destination, saved over $2,000 by switching to NextME. And a larger chain, Lou Malnati's, saved upwards of $10,000 across their 13 locations. So the real question is, can you afford not to update your waitlist?


7 Ways to Be a Superstar Restaurant Host

So you’ve managed to land the position of the host at one of the hottest eateries in town. Go you! We know you’re going to rock this position, but in case you could use some tips, we’ve got your back!

Whether this is your first hosting job, or you’ve been at this for years, it never hurts to review the basics and figure out where you might have room to improve. Here are the down and dirty details on what it takes to really shine as a host or hostess for a restaurant.

1. Look the part.

This one starts before you even show up for work. As a host or hostess, you’re often the first person guests see when they visit a restaurant for the first time. And you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. This means you should always arrive for your shift well groomed, clean, and ready to go. Hair should be neat, makeup should be tasteful, and clothing should look professional. It should go without saying, but a host should never be playing with their phone, chewing gum, or eating at the host stand. Remember, you are the face of the restaurant.

2. Greet everyone who walks in the door promptly.

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get distracted when things are slow, or overwhelmed during a rush. As a host one of your main tasks is to welcome guests to your restaurant. A smile and a friendly greeting goes a long way toward making people feel welcome. This means, no matter how important whatever else you might be doing is, you stop and greet everyone. No exceptions.

3. Be organized.

There’s a lot going on at the host stand – more than most guests realize. You have a thousand things to keep track of, and during a busy shift, it may be hours before you have a chance to breathe for a moment. Keep everything organized and orderly, and you’ll find the task much easier to manage. Make sure you have all the supplies you need before your shift starts, including extras of things like pens or highlighters if you use them. Better yet, a waitlist app like NextME can make it easy to stay on top of everything digitally.

4. Honesty really is the best policy.

Never tell a guest it will be just a few minutes for a table, unless that’s actually true. Never make up an answer to a question if you’re not sure. Be realistic when relaying any type of information, and you’ll head off the kind of problems that could blow up in your face later.

5. Know your restaurant.

If you’re interacting with customers, you’re going to get questions. Lots of them. Whether it’s the phone call about special dietary restrictions, or people who just came in the door asking about special menu items or gift cards, you’re sure to get stumped now and then. Take a proactive approach and learn as much as you can about the menu and restaurant policies, and be sure to familiarize yourself with any specials or promos that are currently ongoing before you start your shift. The more you know, the easier these interactions will be.

6. Know your coworkers.

In every restaurant there are some members of the wait staff who can handle more than others. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the team can make things run that much smoother. At the same time, you need to be fair when seating guests so that everyone has a chance to make some good tips. Don’t overload the best servers just because you know they can handle it. Spread the workload around and you’ll find everyone is appreciative, especially the guests!

7. Keep a good sense of humor and maintain composure.

This is probably the most important part of the job. A good host has to grin and bear it no matter what comes your way. You’ll probably deal with rude guests from time to time, but that’s just part of working with the public. Don’t take anything personally, no matter what they may say. Just laugh it off and move on. Likewise, when everything seems to be chaotic and you’ve got a million and one things on your plate, you still need to exude a sense of calm or risk spreading the chaos further. Above all, relax and take the good with the bad. You’re sure to run into plenty of both!

Ready to introduce NextME to your business? Call us at 408.909.6398 or schedule a demo from us HERE !


Top Chicago Brunch Spots for Memorial Day

This year, Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 29th, and it is a great day to spend in Chicago. The city is brimming with summer kick-off parties, events, rooftop/ outdoor patio bars, and new restaurants. Nothing beats a good Monday off filled with good food and drinks with family and friends.

Planning reservations for brunch on Memorial Day can often be a hassle, especially in a city like Chicago where wait times for a table can be very long at the most popular restaurants. I’ve noticed that many of the brunch spots on Yelp that are tagged as “takes reservations”, DO NOT actually take advance reservations, which can be pretty frustrating. People get irritated by waiting up to an hour for the next table to open up, and we all know how that feels when we’re hangry.

To avoid waiting in line on Memorial Day, we’ve compiled a list of top brunch spots in Chicago below that DO NOT take reservations but are using NextME, the simplest digital waitlist app for restaurant hosts that allows diners to hold their place in line with just their mobile number and SMS text.

Top Memorial Day Brunch Spots in Chicago:

Corridor Brewery & Provisions,

Dryhop Brewers

Kanela Breakfast Club

Le Pain Quotidien,

The Bongo Room

Son of a Butcher

Southport Grocery & Cafe

Whisk Chicago

Here’s how it works: NextME sends you a text message confirming your placement on the list and provides a weblink to a countdown for you and your squad to check your position in line. The best part is, you don’t have to download the app! Just visit a participating NextME restaurant below, and provide your host your mobile number to connect. As you can imagine, having a countdown means that instead of standing on your feet in line for 45 minutes or so, you’ll be making the most of that extra time. When the queue gets low and approaches your position, NextME will send out another text notification to let you know when your table’s ready, which you will reply “1” to keep or “2” to cancel your reservation.

If your favorite brunch spot is NOT already using NextME, we’ve put together a nice referral program to help you battle our fight against hangry dining. Make sure to request NextME to the restaurant and we will compensate you once they sign up!

To learn more about how NextME app can help your restaurant serve smiles while you wait, visit our website.

All the best to you and your squad this Memorial Day weekend!

Happy Waiting,

The NextME Team


Table Tracking Feature - NextME Restaurant Waitlist App

We’re happy to announce that we’ve made some updates to the NextME App. We want to thank all of our existing customers for their valuable feedback as their input has gone a long way into helping us to determine new features to include. With that said, lets take a look at whats new!

After launching NextME, one of the most requested features has been the ability for hosts to easily track table numbers. The addition of table tracking as a feature allows us to offer more robust analytics and contributes to the accuracy of our quoted wait times.

Table tracking is accomplished by simply adding the table number you anticipate seating your patrons in the “Table #” field on the live waitlist.

 

 

With NextME, I never have to worry about using pagers, taking notes on what patrons look like, or shouting names over people in a loud room. I have more time to help everyone who walks in, and the customers are seated faster. Everyone wins!

Want to learn more about NextME? Head to our website to see what it’s all about! And don’t forget to check out Kuma’s Corner to get your ultimate burger fix.

Happy Waiting!