Tips to Help You Cut Customer Wait Time by Half

It’s no surprise that people despise waiting in today’s fast-paced world of instant satisfaction. Waiting for a table, drinks, or supper may all be extraordinarily inconvenient and result in many unhappy customers, which can lead to a loss of money.

While longer lines may indicate that the food is in high demand, extended wait times at restaurants may irritate consumers. As a result, reducing client wait times is beneficial.

You may increase your market share by a percentage point by cutting wait times, which means more monthly income. Furthermore, long wait times can lower work morale and contribute to stress-related issues.

In this post, we will discuss how restaurants may lower the number of times customers wait in line while maintaining efficiency and effectiveness while minimizing complaints, boosting customer happiness, and reducing staff stress. To comprehend the concept better, let’s start by looking at some of the typical complaints expressed at restaurants.

What are the most often heard restaurant complaints?

Customers will always look for any restaurant’s most outstanding cuisine and service. One little blunder by the restaurant is immediately reported in the comments area. Here are a few restaurant complaints:

  • Food-related complaints

Poor food quality is one of the most prevalent complaints in restaurants, and restaurateurs must ensure that the quality is always up to par. People spend a lot of money on your food, so make sure it’s always high-quality.

Another problem that is concerning when it comes to consumer dining at your restaurant is overpriced meals. You cannot simply establish a price for a meal at random; you must ensure that it matches your costs and your consumers’ wallets.

Long wait times at restaurants are another typical concern. Most consumers do not understand how difficult it is to manage a restaurant. They come to your restaurant for a wonderful meal with excellent service; therefore, you must provide the same as a restaurateur.

  • Service-related complaints

Customers will mostly complain about the inadequate seating arrangement; cramming your space with tables and chairs is not a good idea. This may wreak havoc on the environment due to noise and overpopulation. So, plan out your seating arrangement wisely.

Complaints about incorrect check computations. None of the guests would like to receive a check for a sum more than what they had ordered. As a result, ensure sure you’re billing is always correct.

Another prevalent criticism in a restaurant business environment is the lack of various ways of payment. As a restaurant, you must understand that everything has gone digital; customers no longer carry cash all the time. Always consider your guests’ preferences.

What processes are involved in resolving consumer complaints?

Client complaints are unavoidable; therefore, if you own a business that sells to the general public, such as a restaurant, you will never be able to please every customer and achieve 100 percent satisfaction.

Here are some measures you may take to resolve the majority of issues.

  • Listen

The first step should be to listen to your customer to ascertain the source of their discontent. You should pay attention to the client to see whether they have broken any of your policies or if this is anything that your system did not foresee.

  • Understand

Next, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Try to understand their point of view in light of what you now know. You won’t have a comprehensive idea of the cause for the complaint unless you look at it from their point of view.

  • Elevate

If feasible, promote the client to a supervisor or manager after hearing the complaint and understanding its rationale. This action alone may sometimes soothe some of the customer’s anxieties by establishing a sense of significance, that there is something substantial enough to be escalated to someone higher up the chain of command.

  • Resolve

You will come to a point when you must choose what you can and cannot do per your restaurant’s policies to address the issue. Be kind and respectful while providing a solution, letting the client know you are prepared to accept responsibility for the problem and outlining what you will do to fix it.

  • Following up

After presenting an acceptable solution to the client and resolving the situation to their satisfaction, you should send them a quick follow-up email or a phone call to confirm whether they are pleased with the resolution and their reviews.

What not do when the customers are waiting?

It’s as crucial to focus on what you should be doing when providing exceptional customer service as it is to know what to avoid doing.

  • Acting irritated or hostile

When a customer asks how long they’ll have to wait, the worst thing you can do is to appear irritated or argumentative. Avoid trying to justify lengthy wait times to clients. Instead, express regret for the delay and assure them that you will see them as soon as possible.

  • Preventing consumers from leaving

Give consumers a choice to leave and come back if their wait time exceeds 30 minutes. This is when using technology may be advantageous. Tell your clients, for instance, that they are free to go and run errands and that you will reach them to remind them to come back.

  • Disregarding your clients

Another error to avoid is completely disregarding your consumers. Know how long they’ve been waiting, and sometimes give them updates on how much longer they may anticipate it taking.

What are the ways to manage customer service queues?

Here are some ideas for improving your reception area and making waiting a more pleasant experience for your guests.

  • Provide entertainment to entertain the waiting consumers

Distraction is an excellent strategy to discourage your consumers from becoming concerned about restaurant wait times. Provide items in your waiting room to keep them occupied and away from the clock.

You can offer Wi-Fi. The majority of your restaurant’s customers will be carrying mobile devices. Set up a Wi-Fi network to make it easier for them to connect to the internet. Don’t forget to display the network name and password, so consumers don’t have to struggle to look for them.

  • Make waiting more comfortable by providing personalized service

Amenities that cater to consumer satisfaction go a long way toward showing your clients how much you appreciate them. Waiting periods are significantly less unpleasant when accompanied by a hot beverage or a portion of nutritious food to alleviate the agony of waiting.

You may also demonstrate your concern for your consumers by offering charging stations for mobile devices and laptop computers. This will allow them to catch up on business email, and their extended wait may be viewed as valuable personal time rather than an annoyance.

  • Communicate with consumers who are waiting to avoid aggravation

You may reduce client irritation by informing them of how long they might anticipate waiting. Increased customer contact has a substantial influence on waiting room sentiments.

When your client arrives at your restaurant, tell them how long they may anticipate waiting and confirming their appointment. Also, be prepared to apologize; most consumers will forgive a significant wait period if you apologize for the inconvenience.

  • Create a friendly environment for consumers who are waiting

Making a friendly welcome area may do wonders for people who must wait there. Waiting is unpleasant enough, but staying in an uncomfortable chair or sofa is unbearable. Upgrade as needed when things begin to seem shabby, stretched, or worn out.

  • Consider using a virtual waiting room

A virtual waiting room allows you to see how many people are ahead of you in line, which dramatically reduces consumer tension. Virtual waiting rooms also make it easy to present consumers with an expected wait time.

Virtual waiting rooms are also advantageous for organizations because they give valuable data. For example, if you discover that consumer demand is higher on various days, you may modify your workforce numbers accordingly.

  • Utilize queue data to optimize staffing and identify staff training requirements

The data provided by queue management systems can advise managers about the problems that take the longest to address. It also allows managers to determine whether their employees have received appropriate training to deal with such issues.

Managers can determine why a staff member takes longer to service consumers. This might be a chance to improve training while also evaluating the overall performance of training operations.

  • Reduce service time

Customers can start their wait in virtual and hybrid lines by checking in via a computerized system and submitting crucial information like their name and information on what they need to be served. Your workers will benefit from this knowledge as they work more quickly and cut down on the perceived wait time for consumers.

  • Set priorities for consumer requests

It is vital to manage your queues and be able to prioritize them if you want to decrease waiting time. Consider the time the consumer has been waiting for a response, among other things, while determining your priorities. However, it all boils down to this: whatever your priorities are, the goal is to keep things going.

  • Rethink your front-of-the-house employment

When clients walk in, you want to know if they are there for pickup or waiting for a table. You may send someone into the crowd to segregate clients into carryout and dining-in groups and check them in.

Adding a mobile payment option allows staff to deliver orders to consumers immediately. It also allows customers to complete their purchases from the convenience of your waiting room rather than wait in a lengthy queue.

What are some strategies for reducing wait times at restaurants?

Here are a few ideas for reducing wait times at restaurants and improving workflow.

  • Spend money on technology

A well-trained team may go a long way toward reducing wait times at restaurants, and using technology can help you reach that level of efficiency. With the availability of numerous waitlist solutions to aid with the seating process, technology may also help cut wait times at restaurants.

An automated wait management system can offer the most precise time estimate and alert clients through text when their tables are available, allowing them to be more mobile while they wait.

  • Improve labor efficiency

Another strategy to lower wait times at restaurants is to keep operations operating efficiently, especially during peak hours, with the correct balance of hosts, servers, chefs, and bussers.

Too many staff each shift can cause labor expenses to eat into revenues, while too few might cause table turns to back up, leaving visitors waiting to be served. The data provided by your POS system may assist you in identifying your busiest hours, tracking table turnover rates, and scheduling your employees accordingly.

  • Thorough training

Not only do you want the most personnel per shift, but you also want them to be well-trained in the most satisfactory hospitality standards and operational processes to operate efficiently.

Employees should find it reasonably easy to learn how to use mobile POS because they are already accustomed to the iPad or other tablet interface from personal devices. A well-trained crew with the necessary tools is always a winning combination for minimizing restaurant wait times.

  • Create distractions

Providing visual diversions to your consumers will give the impression of shorter wait times. Television over the tables or a jukebox playing vintage rock and roll music in the background will make your customers forget how long they’ve been waiting.

  • Start accepting bookings for sit-down dinners

Accepting reservations is critical information for lowering restaurant wait times. It can help to predict how many orders will be placed and what sort of orders will be placed, especially during the lunch and dinner rushes. Encouraging your consumers to make reservations will allow you to service them promptly.

  • Make use of a point-of-sale (POS) system

Customers will permanently alter their minds after making an order, which can lengthen the ordering process and increase wait times at restaurants. With the right POS system, however, you can update the specifics of an order without having to start from scratch.

wait times at restaurants

Author credit: By Travelarz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 pl,

  • Allow deferred orders mostly during slower hours

Allowing consumers to place an online order later is a helpful tool, but it might cause issues with wait times at restaurants. You don’t want to be swamped with postponed orders when you’re already swamped with real-time orders.

You may assist prevent this by putting a time limit on delayed orders, which will help you avoid a significant backlog of online orders.

  • Set the expectation

Let them know ahead of time how long they will have to wait. This is especially critical if you own a full-service restaurant. Your guests will appreciate knowing how long they will have to wait for their dinner rather than having the waitress keep them in the dark until the food is eventually brought.

  • Communicate with the client

Delays are unavoidable, and most consumers understand and forgive, but everyone values their time. You will demonstrate respect for the client and their time by communicating with them about how long they will be waiting and apologizing for any delays.

wait times at restaurants

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  • Offer appointment scheduling

Appointment scheduling is another practical approach to eliminating consumer confusion about wait times at restaurants. It enables clients to select the time that works best for them. When customers arrive, they may obtain the service they require immediately.

This advanced scheduling also allows your employees to prepare for the customer’s visit. They may review the information they have on file for the consumer and be prepared to provide tailored service as soon as the customer arrives.

  • Service restoration

Employees should be prepared to undertake service recovery and put things right for the consumer, as with any negative customer experience.

This can range from something as basic as a genuine apology to something as sophisticated as writing off a portion or all of a charge. For example, you may deduct a payment percentage for long delays or poor food quality.

  • Consider buying online

Allowing clients to place orders online is an excellent approach to cutting restaurant wait times. It speeds up operations and removes the need to pay personnel to take orders, saving money on payroll expenditures.

If your customers know they can easily buy their meals online, they are more likely to do so before visiting your restaurant, reducing the time they will spend waiting in line.

  • Offer takeout during peak hours

Offer takeout service during peak hours; not only will this reduce customers’ time spent in the line during busy hours, but it will also lead to increased sales.

  • Offer QR code menu

You can reduce service time by having a QR code on your restaurant’s menu. Your customers will no longer have to ask servers how certain long foods take to prepare and can simply scan codes themselves using their smartphones.

  • Prepare certain meal dishes in advance

Prepare certain meal dishes in advance. If your restaurant is busy, this will shorten the wait for orders to be delivered, freeing up your personnel to concentrate on other activities and giving customers outstanding service.

  • Automate your processes

Automation is the key to reducing waiting time in restaurants. When you reduce the need for manual processes, your employees can focus on other tasks and make fewer errors.

What technologies can you use to reduce wait times at restaurants?

Here are a few technology developments in restaurants that have helped to shorten wait times.

  • Self-kiosks

A self-service kiosk is a POS system that allows consumers to place and pay for their food orders. Some clients may opt to use technology, reducing booking backlog. Customers that use it do not have to wait for anything because it offers seamless and contactless ordering.

Aside from providing a safer way to order and minimizing wait times in restaurants, it also assists establishments in increasing target upselling, improving order accuracy, and lowering labor expenses.

  • Contactless ordering

Customers do not have to wait for workers to arrive to accept their orders with contactless ordering. More significantly, visitors can make an order without making any physical contact.

Self-service menus are now available at most restaurants. Visitors using the scanning app may scan the QR code on the table. The menu will be accessible to customers via scanning. They select the item you want to order, allowing guests to place their purchase.

They will be taken to the payment page, where they may complete the payment for the requested item. This procedure guarantees that restaurant personnel does not interact with guests to receive orders.

  • Online ordering

Since consumers no longer have to wait in lines, many restaurants are now forced to accept orders online, which many customers prefer. Additionally, it guarantees that guests may eat in total safety at their preferred eateries.

With an online ordering system, you can take care of more consumers while employing fewer staff members. You can raise your revenue by doing this. Since most orders will be coming online, your restaurant will not be overcrowded, and guests visiting will feel comfortable and safe.


Long wait times at restaurants are rarely regarded as unpleasant and frequently cause consumers to choose takeout or altogether avoid dining. Customers notice when a restaurant has lower wait times, and as a result, you shift from being a choice to become the place people go.

You may train workers and ensure everything runs well to reduce wait times. What training and excellent management cannot achieve, restaurant technology may help with.