While there will always be a ton of moving parts to make a restaurant run as smoothly as possible, slow table service can really affect how guests measure the quality of your business. According to the National Restaurant Association, guests are growing more aware of the changing dynamics when dining in, especially as restaurants keep on adjusting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It doesn’t matter which type of table service your restaurant offers to guests. If they see that you and your staff are struggling to fill up their water glasses, dole out menus on time, and even turn tables over to the next guests, you might start seeing some Yelp reviews complaining about the same issues. That’s why we’ve put together a little list to improve your restaurant’s table service so you won't need to sacrifice the quality of your food or the overall dining experience.

What is table service?

Table service means a restaurant will seat guests at a table so a server can take their orders and guide their dining experience. After the kitchen has prepared their food and drink orders, guests receive the order at their table from the server.

Table service can easily be confused with bottle service, even if they might hint towards similar customer experiences. Simply put, bottle service means guests receive drinks from a server at their reserved table in a bar or club. While some people use table and bottle service interchangeably, table service is mostly found in restaurants, while bottle service is typically found in clubs and other high-end establishments that prioritize drinks above food. Either way, high quality table service or bottle service accomplish the same goal—they both boost your reputation so guests head home feeling satisfied as they think about the next time they’ll stop by for a second round.

How to improve table service

Waiter at an empty restaurant prepares a table for guests by placing a rose in a vase.
Photo by Louis Hansel / Unsplash

1. Train your employees for every situation

At its core, table service relies on the efficiency of your servers greeting and tending guests. That’s why it’s always important to train your staff to handle common mistakes and situations that could lead to slower table service and a less than stellar sit down experience.

Typical setbacks, like staff shortage or a rush of last minute guests, can easily be anticipated when you’re aware how and when they tend to happen. Of course, mistakes are unavoidable. Afterall, we’re only human. But what will you do if you have a newer server struggling with the tech? What’s the protocol during a staffing shortage?

Of course, it’s not possible to anticipate everything that could go wrong, but nothing should prevent you from being prepared. That’s why it’s important to offer monthly training sessions for your staff. They can also possess a stronger awareness to the moments that hinder a guest’s overall dining experience.

2. Offer different types QR codes for guests

One sneaky way to improve your table service is to create QR codes so guests are thinking about their meal before they sit down to order. By scanning QR codes, guests can easily browse through your menu items on their mobile device without having to actually hold a physical menu that have been handled by other guests. That way, they’ll be a bit more prepared with their order all while allowing them to spend more time appreciating their time once seated at the table. You can also place QR codes at tables to empower guests to order a second round of drinks or dessert at their own pace without having to wait for a server.

Thankfully you don’t need to have guests jump through hoops by downloading a special app. With SpotOn, you can create QR codes from your back-of-house dashboard to help streamline how your guests sit and order, and your overall table service workflow.

3. Streamline service with strong tech

The wrong tech in your restaurant might slow down table service in ways you wouldn’t even wish on a competing business. Thankfully installing the right tech for your front and back of house staff, such as handheld devices for your servers or a kitchen display system for your chefs, will help make sure your services won’t ever fall behind.

With a strong restaurant POS system that harmonizes with your workflow, you can even earn back off some extra time in your work day. That’s how The Bungalow Kitchen in the Bay Area, managed to earn back 5-7 hours during their weekly operations alongside a 5-10 minute boost in ordering times.

At the end of the day, you want to work smarter for your guests. Sure, there’ll be moments where you won’t be able to sugar coat your hard work, but you ultimately want to keep you and your staff motivated to come back the next day. Of course, it’s not only about increasing your restaurant sales either. You also want to make sure you give the best meals and service to your guests. Let SpotOn be the tech to help get you there.

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