ABC Steak Bar is well known for its open space arrangement alongside its juicy steaks and fine beer. Their customers don’t only go there for the food but also for the amazing experience they get. The crowd, the charcoal flavor, and the surrounded noise are also reasons why their patio is always crowded.
However, COVID-19 did change many things about how the steak bar can operate. They had seen rainy days due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. There were fewer customers because nothing can substitute the ambience their customers look for. On top of that, social distancing and other health-related protocols made it quite hard for them to open for dine-in services.
But bad days don’t last forever! Since the COVID-19 situation is getting better and the town is relaxing many of its health and social distancing protocols, ABC is ready to welcome customers back to its patio. Still, they will need to maintain some protocols. For instance, they will need to keep track of every single customer by using a contact tracing system so if there are any COVID-19 exposures, they can immediately identify people at risk. Also, they are planning to limit the number of customers on the patio at a given time. So far, they measured that if they keep only 50 people on the patio, it doesn’t break the health-related protocols. But how do they manage the process when so many customers are eager to return? Everyone wants to enjoy their favorite ambience and the restaurant does not want to disappoint any one of them.
So, they decide to use the old-school restaurant waitlist signup process! In this way, when customers visit the restaurant and there are no spots available for people on the patio, they can put their names and contact details in a logbook. Once a suitable spot is free, one of the restaurant staff calls the customers and asks them if they want to take the spot. If the customer agrees, then they reserve the spot. If not, then they give it to the next in line. Usually, they maintain a first-come-first-serve policy.
Now, ABC Steak Bar can sense a few challenges in this process. First, it takes time to note down customers details in a hardcopy logbook, as well as to find customers in the logbook and notify them when a spot is free. Second, the whole process occupies staff for a reasonable amount of time. Third, when there are too many customers and too many entries on the waitlist, it is only natural for things to go south and create miscommunications.
They certainly do not want to handle an angry mob of customers, particularly during the age of social media when customer reviews are quite important to run a restaurant business. Plus, the whole process creates so much chaos for the staff.
Hence, ABC Steak Bar management decides to automate the entire patio/dine-in waitlist management process. But how?
Well, that is exactly what we are going to discuss in the blog!
Automated Restaurant Patio Waitlist
It is fairly easy to create an automated restaurant patio waitlist that basically takes away all the hectic manual tasks associated with the manual process. In this system, repetitive tasks are designated to an automated solution that not only does all tasks one by one, but also makes sure that all communications it is sending are personalized for enhanced customer experience. All we need is a solid strategy. Here are the four steps that we need to follow:
Step #1: Registering Customers for the Waitlist
When customers arrive at the restaurant, they usually go in, learn from a staff that the patio/indoor space is currently full, sign up for the waitlist, and then go back outside. This whole process is not only time consuming for customers but also an unpleasant experience. When you are deploying an automated solution, you are helping customers to sign up before even going in. For instance, a customer arrives at a restaurant which is now fully booked. So, the restaurant staff puts a signboard outside that states that they are fully booked, plus a QR Code with instructions to sign up for the waitlist. Visiting customers can quickly sign up by scanning the QR code and filling out a short form (e.g., name, phone number, email, group size, etc.).
Step #2 Waitlist Confirmation Message
When a customer signs up, they will get a personalized confirmation message as soon as they click submit. Their entry will be recorded in a central database that can be accessed by the staff. An automated notification will also go to the staff which will inform them that someone just signed up for the waitlist with all their information. Each entry is timestamped so staff will know who came before whom.
Step #3 Notifying Customers
Now, at this point, ABC Steak Bar already has a list of customers waiting and they also know the size of the group. So, as soon as a group leaves the patio, they know that they can accommodate another group. They can estimate the size of the group and find the most recent entry in the waitlist that fits the size. For instance, a group of four signed up for the waitlist. The restaurant detects an open spot for five people. They can immediately inform the group of four. And, the best part is: they don’t have to flip pages for this purpose. They will find the group on their computer/tablet screen. All they need to do is click a button and an automated notification will be sent to the customer.
They can also add more functions in here. For instance, if they want the customer to confirm the spot, they can ask the customer to reply YES to the SMS they sent or NO if they want to pass the spot to someone else. If the customer responds NO to the text notification, or simply doesn’t respond within a set period (say, 10 minutes), the staff will automatically give the spot to the next ones in line.
Step #4 Removing the Customer from Waitlist
So, once the customer is notified, they will be removed from the waitlist. If the customer initially declines but later decides to return, they will have to sign up again. Another signup will be required if the customer visits again.
So, here is a solid, four-step strategy to build a customer-friendly restaurant patio waitlist management solution. All you need is a set of digital marketing tools like SMS marketing, a CRM, digital form builder, and a digital engagement automation platform to streamline all these steps!
Don’t worry, SimplyCast has just the set of tools for you. Most importantly, you do not even have to build the solution from scratch. We have already built a digital restaurant patio waitlist management solution for you so you don’t need to worry about any technical hassles.
Our solution is fully customizable so we can tweak it to meet your restaurant’s requirements. It is also hyper-scalable and super secured.
Sound interesting? Don’t wait! You can get started today.
Just request a customized, one-on-one demo with our experts today and let us explain how this solution can boost your restaurant business.