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 With a waitlist app like NextME, you can replace all of that outdated equipment with a single sleek and sophisticated iPad or iPhone.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?


6 Tips for a Memorable & Profitable Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is known as one of the busiest day of the year for restaurants. And it’s right around the corner! You may be wondering how to handle the extra demand. Here are our best tips for creating a special day that your guests will remember fondly for years to come!

Staff Up

No matter how amazing your staff is, they do have their limits. Don’t try to run Mother’s Day as if it’s the same as any other holiday. Be sure to staff up with some of your best hosts, servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff. If at all possible, avoid scheduling folks for Saturday night and also Sunday morning. You want energetic, fresh staff members, not ones who barely got to sleep last night.

Include Brunch

Even if you normally don’t serve breakfast, Mother’s Day Brunch is pretty much the gold standard. This also allows you to extend your lunch hours into the late morning, which means you can accommodate more table turns and really cash in on the extra traffic. Put together a special menu with all of the usual egg dishes, pancakes, and the like. But also include options from your normal lunch menu to provide variety and versatility.

If this is truly out of your norm, you might even try a prix fixe menu. This will allow you to streamline your kitchen’s efficiency while offering dishes that aren’t part of your normal routine. It also makes ordering ingredients much easier when you have a more limited menu to take into account.

Avoid No-Shows with a No-Res Policy

For important dates like Mother’s Day, it’s not uncommon for guests to choose to book two or three restaurant reservations, and then let Mom choose the one she likes most. Other guests will book for a large party, in case siblings and other family members want to join in the fun, but then show up with only a few people. And then there are those who come and want to spend extra time enjoying the celebration and reminiscing about childhood memories, while keeping your tables full for much longer than you expected. You can avoid these difficulties and more by not offering reservations.

But doesn’t that mean you’ll have a crazy long line? Probably, yes. But guests without reservations expect to wait on Mother’s Day. And you can manage the line and keep your guests informed about the wait with a waitlist app, like NextME. Our app will text your guests with a link to their place in line, then again when it’s time to head back to the host stand. There’s nothing for the customer to download, and they can even view current specials, your social media, and your menu as they wait. It’s really the best of both worlds!

Partner with Other Businesses & Up Your Mobile Marketing Game

Some of the most fun Mother’s Day specials involve partnerships with other local businesses. Imagine offering moms some fun beyond the meal with coupons for the cute little gift shop across the way or the funky jewelry boutique down the street, or a discounted mani/pedi or massage at a local salon. Anything that might be a good way to pamper the mothers in your community would work perfectly here. Even discounts for maid service packages or getaway weekends at a local spa or resort would fit well for the holiday.

How to manage such promotions? You could do something simple like “just show them your receipt,” but it lacks a bit of flair. Handing out paper coupons is also a possibility, but again, may not set the right “vibe” for your restaurant. NextME can help here too. Through our mobile marketing platform, you can customize the marketing messages your guests receive while they’re waiting for their table. Include fun local coupons here, and they can go shopping or book their salon services while they wait! In addition to being a fun way to promote other local businesses (and earn their promotions in return), this can turn wait time into a fun family experience that adds to Mom’s delight, instead of detracting from an otherwise special day. You also can send guests to your social media pages, which has been shown to increase restaurants’ social engagement by up to 17%!

Adjust the Floor Plan

Mother’s Day brings out families, and sometimes they come in large groups. It’s easy to see how a mother of three grown kids, who all have families of their own, can wind up needing seating for a dozen or more. You’ll most likely need to accommodate plenty of large parties.

And while it may be tempting to cram in as many tables as your space can possibly hold, don’t overcrowd or you’re in for a difficult shift for servers, and uncomfortably close tables for guests. Remember to leave plenty of space for booster seats as you’re likely to use more of them than normal. And make use of outdoor seating areas by investing in heaters if it’s still a bit chilly in your area.

Afternoon Tea

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box too. Consider adding in a mid-afternoon tea for Mother’s Day. With plenty of finger sandwiches and bakery selections, this makes for a shorter, less expensive meal that helps to spread out your busy day a bit by offering unique dining hours. And it’s becoming more popular for those looking for something a bit special and unique. Just be sure to promote it heavily on social media so that guests know you’re offering a special tea service and can plan accordingly.

Ready to introduce NextME to your business? Call us at (877) 639-8631 or schedule a demo from us HERE!


3 Ways Restaurants Can Use NextME’s App to Increase Their Bottom Line

Running a restaurant and getting customers in the door is not easy. Even popular restaurants are seeing prospects flee towards the exit due to long wait times for a table. NextME’s digital waitlist for restaurant employees is significantly improving the customer’s experience at the front-of-house (F-O-H) and has helped restaurants increase customer retention during wait times.

What’s the secret? Communication. By leveraging mobile technology, NextME makes it easy for restaurants to seamlessly connect and relay to diners their position in line. Taking the guessing game out of waiting has helped restaurants and other businesses drive more sales over the course of three years, and we want to continue to do so by sharing some tips to help your restaurant improve your bottom line.

1. Communicate with Customers Effectively

Communication is key to getting your customers in the door and also getting them to stay. With NextME’s digital waitlist app, restaurant hosts can send guests an automated SMS text where diners can easily track their place in line using a weblink. With a simple text message, customers are engaged with their position in line and reduces their anxiety as it allows them to manage their time back to the restaurant. Two-way texting also allows customers to reply with “1” to confirm their reservation or “2” to cancel without having to call or physically return to the host stand.

2. Increase Customer Retention

Using SMS text as a tool to communicate with your patrons helps increase customer retention by up to 25% during peak hours. Compared to shouting customer’s names one by one off a clipboard, restaurant partners find that their retention rates of waiting patrons increase from 60% up to 90% when using NextME’s app. With NextME, hosts can easily manage your patrons’ expectations in real time, allowing your restaurant to retain more customers during peak hours and drive more sales.

3. Improved Marketing ROI

Using text messages for your restaurant increases the value your restaurant can bring to your customers. NextME’s text message includes a web link that will direct patrons to the restaurant’s mobile marketing page. This page will be styled and branded according to the restaurant’s preferences, such as displaying menus, drink specials and social media pages. Displaying marketing content to waiting patrons increases customer engagement and takes care of patrons when your hosts are too busy checking for table availability. On average, restaurants are getting 20–30 minutes of consistent engagement on NextME’s marketing page.

To learn more about how NextME app can help drive more sales for your restaurant and increase your bottom line, check out our page here.

Ready to introduce NextME to your business? Request a demo from us!


What are Restaurants Saying about NextME’s Digital Waitlist App?

What you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. NextME is the go-to waitlist app for restaurant employees that allows diners to add their cell phone number to hold their place in line. That means no more antiquated pen and paper waitlist for hosts and those yucky, germ infest pagers for diners. While there are other similar waitlist platforms on the market, NextME is different and unique in its own way.

NextME app allows hosts to manage walk-ins more efficiently; all they have to enter is a patron’s name, party size and cell phone number into the digital waitlist and the app will send an automated SMS text to diners to easily access their position in line using a weblink. No mobile app needed for diners to download.

NextME’s digital waitlist makes it easy for restaurant hosts to keep track of their waiting patrons and notify guests with a touch of a button. No more shouting guest names off a clipboard and searching for customers in a crowd. While pagers may seem fascinating for first-time users, their clunkiness is tiresome and they are expensive for restaurants to replace — pagers can cost anywhere from $25 to $100 per device.

Taking the guessing game out of waiting has helped restaurants retain more customers during peak hours by up to 25%. When restaurants use pen and paper waitlist, the average retention rate is 65%. When using NextME digital waitlist, restaurant partners find that their retention rates of waiting patrons increase up to 90%. Providing the position in line has proven to help customers manage their commute back to the restaurant, increasing tables turns for the restaurant.

Below are some testimonials from a few of Chicago’s best on how NextME has helped their restaurant increased their bottom line:

Oiistar— “Our kitchen busy hours get extended.”- Oiistar Restaurant Owner

Kuma’s Corner — “Our table turns are dramatically better and we don’t have as many walk outs which helps increase our revenue.”- Kuma’s Corner Restaurant Owner

Café Selmarie— “It’s like New Year’s Eve waiting for your table!”- Café Selmarie Diner

To read more testimonials, click here!

Ready To Introduce A Digital Waitlist App To Your Business?

Have any questions or curious as to what benefits a digital waitlist app like NextME can do for your restaurant or business? Comment below or reach out to us!

It’s time to say goodbye to outdated pager systems! Try a FREE 14-day trial of NextME and replace your expensive pager system with SMS text.

If you’re a diner, no need to download the NextME app. Let us know your favorite no advance reservation policy restaurant and we’ll send you $50.00! Here’s a link to referral program.

Happy Waiting,

The NextME team