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A restaurant full of customers and a waiter serving his section

Tips to increase table turnover at restaurants

By Nadine Hashem

Table turnover isn’t the only indication to check when monitoring your performance but it’s surely a very important one for several reasons.


  • First, table turnover indicates the number of guests you receive and as a result it has a great impact on generated sales. 


  • Second, table turnover affects customer service since it indicates the wait time your guests have to wait before they are served.


  • Third, table turnover tells you how good your staff is in serving customers. 


  • Fourth, it shows you the effectiveness of your whole operations from the moment a guest enters the restaurant, passing by the kitchen and finally paying their checks.


Hence, you need to improve your table turnover to ensure smooth operations and happy customers.


What is the table turnover?


Table turnover indicates how many guests occupy your tables during a specific time knowing that the specific number of guests your restaurant can receive is limited.


You want to seat as many customers as you can knowing the limitations you have while offering them a pleasant dining experience. 


Let’s get started with tips to improve your table turnover.


Don’t seat incomplete parties


You may disregard this policy during slow shifts but during busy shifts, stick to it. 


Even for guests with reservations, make sure that they are complete before seating them. 


Seating incomplete parties causes delays in the whole restaurant seating process and slowing down the table turnover at your restaurant.


Communicate this policy with your customers to avoid conflicts and disappointment.


Consolidate your visits 


Why split the visits into two or more visits when you can get things done in one visit?


Let the staff bring water for example or bread basket when they introduce themselves. When waiting for them to make decisions, you can start bringing the plates and the condiments. 


Make sure your staff consolidates their visits to save time as much as they can. 


Suggest items that the kitchen can prepare quickly 


This rule applies especially when the guests are indecisive about their choices and during busy shifts.


You cannot apply this rule all the time because at the end of the day you need to sell all your menu platters.


Use this strategy during your rush hours to speed up your table turnover.


Encourage your employees to work as a team


Avoid the rigid rule of the individual server section. Instead, encourage them to work as a team so they help each other especially in busy times. 


This way, customers don’t have to wait for their waiter to place their order, add a dessert, change an order or get their bill.


Invest in technology 


You don’t want to have mixed up orders or delayed checks resulting in slower table turnover not to mention dissatisfied customers.


Technology is your way out to solve these problems. That’s why invest in a good POS software that never lets you down. 


In addition, you should encourage online reservations to estimate your guests count and to be prepared ahead of time. 


Customers can also check your menus when you send them a confirmation email with the reservation that includes the menu so they are ready to order once they come in.


Implement contactless menu


Contactless menu is the fastest way to enable customers to check your platters without waiting for the waiter to come and bring the menu.


It’s a saving time way to speed up the ordering process and to increase your guests count.


Prepare some of the menu items ahead of time


Filling the salad dressing in their ramekins, preparing sauces or preparing any item that can be ready before things get busy in the restaurant.


Urge your team to prepare all these little tasks that carry out problems and delays.


Limit your menu size 


One of the easiest ways to increase the table turnover is by limiting the menu size.


Fewer options mean customers spend less time deciding what to choose especially when you have a big crowd to serve.


Categorize your menu items to be appealing, clear and according to their profitability and popularity in a way that customers are able to choose easily, not to mention the decreased customer satisfaction that comes with more options. 


Ask certain people to leave


It’s not easy to ask your campers to leave but sometimes you have to do it with people who finished their meal and stuck in their places for too long.


Of course, you can’t do it bluntly. The waiter has to clear the table over different visits asking them if they need something else.


Usually people take the hint and understand that they should ask for their checks and leave.


You might offer them to buy dessert, coffee or tea at the bar and if they still haven’t caught the message simply tell them politely and friendly that there are reservations waiting. 


This last point depends on the relationship between your employees and the customers.


Be careful, your waiters should be well trained to talk to guests to ask them to leave without upsetting them.


Increasing table turnover is tricky but totally doable but never jeopardize the dining experience trying to get more customers in.

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