Time is money in the restaurant world
You’ve heard it. You know it’s true: “Time is money,” at least for your customers. But do the numbers support that well-known adage? Gad Allon, associate professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management, and two colleagues decided to check it out. Focusing on fast food restaurants, they found that each second of wait time reduces the amount customers are prepared to pay. Conversely, “a seven-second reduction in customers’ waiting time increases a chain’s market share by 1 percent.”
Of course fast food restaurants are different from fine dining establishments. While more rapid table turnover results in more income for a fast food restaurant, in a fine dining environment, “guests are encouraged to linger so that they purchase more dishes and drinks.
What all restaurants have in common, though, is that unmanaged or mismanaged wait times decrease sales opportunities. These wait times can occur at several points:
• At the point of contact, probably on a phone
• Waiting for a table
• Waiting to order
• Waiting for order arrival
• Waiting for a check
A smart restaurant owner examines each of those wait points to determine where bottlenecks exist. Different points in the customer’s progress from first contact to payment require different solutions. While it might be tempting to reduce staff and labor costs, analysis of the wait points might demonstrate that it’s not costeffective. On the other hand, more staff isn’t always the right solution to extended wait times.
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