Every restaurant wants to find and capitalize on best practices—and, every restaurant operator knows that it takes analyzing data to increase efficiencies. There are a lot of operational KPIs—from break even point to cost of goods sold—that operators must calculate each month. But, it’s equally important to track the metrics that affect your diners’ experiences at your restaurant, like wait times, popular menu items and seating efficiency. These metrics are important to your bottom line and are too often overlooked because of the tedious manual calculations that can come with them, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Using the manual or automatic calculations detailed below, you can create reports that allow you to keep track of and make positive impacts on this data.
“How long is the wait?” It’s one of the most frequent questions your host hears every day, and the answer needs to be accurate. Quoting too long of a wait time means a guest may walk away and you lose a customer. On the other hand, if the wait time quoted is inaccurately short, you risk irritating your diners.
Restaurants often rely on their more experienced hosts to quote accurate wait times, but even at their best, the accuracy varies—especially when you add in any reservations or online wait lists.
How to calculate it: Manually, your host can calculate the number of tables that can seat the waiting party, calculate the number of people before that party who have to sit first, estimate how long each of those tables has left based on average table turn, and use that data to estimate within one-sixth of the actual wait time.
An easier option is to use a guest management tool that will automatically calculate wait times based on historical data, current table statuses, and the wait list and reservation book.
Table Turn Time
Simply put, the table turn is the time it takes for a guest to dine, from the time they sit down to the time they leave. And, whether you’re a casual dining or fine dining establishment, you need to nail down this metric and track it over time. For a casual dining restaurant, the faster your table turn, the more money you make.
Once you figure your average table turn, you can determine the contributing factors to a great table turn time and one that needs improvement. From getting the check on time to an efficient kitchen, many contributors comprise this metric.
How to calculate it: To manually calculate, identify a measurement period, then count the number of parties served during that period and divide by the number of tables used. To automatically calculate, use a guest management tool that will automate the entire process.
Your Most Popular Dishes
For independent restaurants especially, creating a great menu is no easy task. But, if you know what your customers are ordering most, you know what items you should be highlighting as favorites for them. In addition, you can identify the least popular items on your menu and either eliminate them or substitute them to identify a better performing item.
How to calculate it: Use your POS or kitchen automation solution to identify trends using historical data and reports.
Average Party Size
Your party mix lets you know a lot about your guests—for instance, whether you’re serving mostly families or couples. Using this data, you can create better marketing campaigns, better menus, and a better overall customer experience as you create service that is more tailored to the guests you see come in.
How to calculate it: Manually, tally your party sizes and divide by the total number of parties to see your percentage of each party mix. For automatic calculations, use a guest management tool that tracks the data automatically.
How often is a party of two seated at a table that can hold up to 6 in your restaurant? Too many times, and it can cost you money and detract from the guest experience. Seating efficiency—that is, seating the right party at the right table—is important for your bottom line and important to your diners.
How to calculate it: Manually, count the number of seats filled and divide by the total number of seats. While a seating efficiency of 100 percent is most likely not possible, you should aim to create the highest percentage possible without sacrificing the guest experience. To make this easy, you can use a guest management platform that takes seating efficiency into consideration when calculating the next party to seat.
Tracking data at your restaurant is the best way to increase efficiency and boost the bottom line, but it’s also important for another reason: creating the best dining experience possible. Whether you’re tracking your metrics manually or by using the technology available, you can make a difference for your employees and your guests by taking a look at how each area is performing and updating your processes when possible.