Make Waiting Part of the Experience

Posted by Patrick Maness +

There’s nothing a restaurant owner wants to see more than a line outside of their door or a crowded waiting area. This, of course, means business is booming and money can’t buy you that kind of advertising.

It’s a strange phenomenon that people are drawn to restaurants with long wait times, but this doesn’t exactly mean they like to wait. In fact, the wait may very well work to sour the experience as a whole.

The secret is to keep customers occupied in a way that will not only make their wait time seem shorter, but also help make it become an integral part of their dining experience. This may involve implementing a new restaurant design concept or upgrading your layout. With some creativity, long waits don’t have to be a downside of success; they can actually complete your customer’s dining experience.

Playing games

If you run a family restaurant or even a fun gastro pub, you should seriously think about creating a game room that people look forward to waiting in. Some ideas might include a classic arcade or pinball table, or if you have space, an air-hockey table. Another idea would be to have a table with a large, 1000-piece puzzle that patrons can spend five or ten minutes working on while they wait. The idea is to give people a way to be active and socialize while they wait, which is truly much more interesting than just giving them a room with free Wi-Fi!

Saddle up to the bar

This is the classic solution. After all, who doesn’t like a pint of beer and a few handfuls of pretzels while they wait? Many restaurant design concepts incorporate a barroom next to the main dining area where patrons can grab a drink while they wait. This is a great way to generate more revenue, and in many ways the customer won’t even feel like they’re waiting. If your finances permit it, you might want to even think about offering a complimentary glass of wine or pint of beer to patrons who wait. 

Additionally, an increasing number of apps now allow people to avoid waiting times by checking in early or putting their name on the waiting list before they even leave home. These apps may help restaurants reduce waiting times, but if you are able to make waiting part of the experience, you will be able to stand apart from others and offer a fuller, more unique experience that will attract more customers.

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