What Restaurants Can Learn From Seinfeld

By: Ed Rothenberg 

Most Seinfeld fans will remember the classic episode where Jerry, George and Elaine are waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant prior to going to a movie. During their long wait, the maître d’ continually assures the group that their table would be ready in “5, 10 minutes”, but the wait is elongated to consume the entire 30 minute episode. The group’s frustration grows as George is at his pressure-cooked best both waiting for a table and waiting to use an in-use pay phone, a famished Elaine is tempted to swipe an egg roll from an elderly group already seated, and Jerry is trying to hide from a woman he thinks he recognizes. Ultimately, the group’s frustration maxes out and they leave to go dine elsewhere. As soon as they leave, the Maitre d’ calls their name for a table. 

The Seinfeld writers made this episode into classic comedy entertainment, but I think we can all relate to the situation and have had a similar experience, and it probably wasn’t quite as amusing. Maybe it’s low blood sugar, maybe it’s the culture of immediate gratification we’ve become accustomed to, but waiting for a table in a restaurant can be one of the most frustrating experiences, especially if the wait is well past the time you were quoted.

 From the restaurant operator perspective, the view is even worse, because they’ve lost a customer … one they may never be able to retrieve.

 Technology to the Rescue

A table management system at the hostess stand can completely eliminated the frustrated guest and lost revenue experience depicted in this classic Seinfeld episode. Sophisticated table management systems use real time dining room information to quote accurate wait times, keep those wait times up to date, and can automatically page guests when their table is ready.

When a guest enters a full restaurant, they are greeted at the hostess stand and their names are recorded electronically onto the table management system waitlist, along with party size, and preferences. An accurate wait time is then provided to the guest. These systems are fully integrated into the point of sale and kitchen systems which allows the host/hostess using the table management system to understand the exact state of the table … appetizer served, entrée served, check presented, table dirty, table cleaned. The system then uses historical timing information to compute when that table will be available for the next seating. The table is matched to a party on the wait list and an accurate wait time is provided to the host/hostess. Fully integrated with paging and text messaging system, the guest is then free to roam about or visit the bar with confidence they will be notified when their table is ready.

Table Management Systems fully integrated with your Point of Sale and Kitchen Management Systems provide the following benefits:

-      Decrease the amount of time tables are empty by providing real time information to your host/hostess

-      Record turn time data, and combine that with data from the POS and KDS for after the fact operational analysis and improvement.

-      Automate Server Rotation to ensure consistent service levels

-      Reduce guest frustration and lost guests due to inaccurate wait times.

-      Enhance the guest experience by accurately capturing preferences and VIP information and using that information to deliver exceptional service

Fully integrated Table Management Systems make your restaurant immediately more attractive to guests. When a guest enters your restaurant, they will see a relaxed and smiling host/hostess, fully confident and able to set the proper expectations. This is better than seeing an exasperated George, Elaine and Jerry hovering over the host stand, clamoring for an update on when their table will be ready.

Find out more about what MICROS can do for you! For more information contact us at info@micros.com Phone: 866.287.4736 (US and Canada)

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