With the continuous increment of operating costs for restaurants, it is imperative to create more seating space and increase guest turnover. However, to maximize seating space, you need to consider the overall guest experience you want to project as a restauranteur.
Your seating style can actually make you more money, and restaurant revenue management depends heavily on seating. It is in simple terms described as giving the right seat to the perfect customer at the right price for the optimum length of time. Here’s how you can create better seating space for your restaurant.
Plan your seating
There is more to seating arrangements in a restaurant than just putting tables and chairs together. If it were that easy, anyone could start a restaurant. Your restaurant's seating plan t will play a massive role in the ambiance and overall guest experience. You also need to decide if you will have seating for people who prefer to be outside in the open.
Build a Floor Plan
A floor plan gives you an overall idea of what the dining room space will look like. Factors that go into a floor plan include assessing if there is enough space between the table for guests and staff to move through quickly.
This is important especially for your team when they move about with trays of food and drinks. Another thing to look out for is whether the tables are sufficiently spaced out and provide some level of comfort and privacy.
How comfortable are your seats? No matter the ambiance you provide, guests will not sit for long in your chairs if they are not comfortable. Therefore, invest in comfortable and quality seats to improve your guest experience. Besides this, you must have seats and a special place set aside for guests who make reservations and walk-ins.
Develop a way to actively track every table’s status to know which ones you are profiting from and the others just taking up space. This will provide you with valuable information to help you decide on your seating arrangements.
Make the Most of Your Seating
You must first decide if you will do only indoor seating or both indoor and outdoor. If you choose to do both, you must use the best quality shade sails in the world to provide some cover for your guests. The size of your floor space will determine your seating; the bigger your floor space, the more tables you can fit on the floor comfortably.
Strike a Balance
You must purposefully plan your seating, ensuring that the floor space does not look crowded or sparse. Strike a balance that will bring your floor space to life while ensuring that comfort is not compromised.
Although there is no hard and fast rule about spacing tables, it is best if you made the most of your floor space. Here is a suggestion to help you in that regard; the most space for one guest is 18 square feet, and the least space for one guest should be 10 square feet.
So, if your restaurant dining room’s floor space is 2,200 square feet, your seating should comfortably accommodate up to 122 people with the most space of 18 square feet and a maximum of 220 people with the least amount of space. Contemplate the ambiance you want to project and then use that to do some calculations as to the best way to arrange your seating.
Know the Status of Tables
As stated earlier, knowing the status of your tables will be beneficial in increasing your profits. You should always know which tables are free or which ones have been occupied for a while so that you can conveniently mark them to be available soon.
For instance, if you have a majority of tables about to start their meals in one section and another section has guests almost done with their meals, you can easily clean up and make it available to the next set of guests waiting.
This will help you flip tables quickly and make the job of your front staff easier. It will also allow your waiting staff to concentrate on the seated guests, and as such, guests will have little to nothing to complain about regarding being waited upon.
Guests love it when they can explore several options. If you do both indoor and outdoor seating, ask the guests where they would prefer to sit. If they decide to sit inside, ask them if they like a table or a booth. These may seem like simple questions, but they sink into the long memories of patrons and buy you some goodwill, especially if they are first-timers.
Seating arrangements must vary as no two guests have the same preferences. There may be guests who want to sit next to the air conditioner if the weather is warm or another who wants to get onto the patio to enjoy the cool evening breeze. Once they have options, their overall guest experience starts on a positive note.
Feedback is vital information to a restauranteur that can be used to improve service and increase profits. Find suitable and creative ways to solicit input from your guests. You may have done your research and executed your plan, but that does not mean that you should end there. From seating to ambiance, waiting and cuisine, you should get feedback on everything.
There may be several nuances you may not have considered or that may have arisen as a result of your new seating arrangements. Without feedback from your guests, you will not know why a particular table or booth is frequently empty, even during peak hours. You can use your reservation system to contact your guests for feedback.
Your reservation system says quite a lot about your establishment. For guests, it is usually their first point of contact. Streamline your reservations and switch them up if you have to. It is fair to have someone on the phone to handle reservations, but it would be great if you had a portal on your website that could help with reservations.
Reservations provide you with an outlook on the number of guests expected on a day and help you manage the seating arrangement. It also allows you to plan with your staff and make sure your guests have a great time. You may need to cordon off a section if special reservations are made.
Prepare for Walk-ins
In the restaurateur business, walk-ins will always be a mainstay. True, some establishments have switched to strictly reservations, but walk-ins will never go away. The reputation of restaurants is often carried by walk-ins, potentially spreading goodwill, and recommending your restaurant to others. So, make provisions for foot traffic and allow guests to sample your ambiance and cuisine. After all, you don’t want your restaurant to have a reputation of being snobbish; it may be bad for business.
Train your front house and waiting staff to provide extra. They should always extend a helping hand to do something extra to improve the guest experience. The front house staff should be encouraged to ask guests if there is something extra that they would love to be provided. Then they should pass such information to the waiting staff so that preparations can be made even before the guests are seated.
One aspect of the restaurant business that can be quite frightening is holding a table for reservation, and the guests do not show or give any reason for cancelling. This means you have lost money on that table, which could have been given to other guests. After you have streamlined your reservation process, put a system in place that sends reminders to guests that have made reservations.
This will ensure that you do not lose money on tables, and it will also increase table turnovers as you can adequately make use of a reserved table when you know exactly when to expect your guest. Make use of emails, text messages, and Google calendar events to remind your guests of their reservation status.
Guests are always changing their tastes, and as a service provider, you should be able to match up with their preferences. Change may be difficult, but you should not get stuck in one seating arrangement. It is excellent for regulars to walk in and see a whole new look of the place.
Even if they have a favorite table, it is an opportunity to find a new favorite. Be adaptable and mix it up. You can keep the favorite seats and make some changes to the other seats that do not get a lot of traffic. Be sure to take note of what works and what does not.
Restaurant seating is not something to be trifled with as it determines how much money you make. Do some research and apply strategic and detailed changes to your seating arrangements to augment the guest experience and have them coming back.