A restaurant can lose customers before the host even meets them. There are numerous cracks that potential customers can fall through. Say you’re offering a direct number for reservations, but potential customers don’t like making phone calls. Or they call and get a busy signal. Or they arrive but see there’s a line of people waiting to be seated. And while the manager is busy answering the phone, people in the line start arguing about who got there first.
To have an easier, more convenient experience, these customers may download someone else’s restaurant waitlist app to make a reservation or add their names to a waitlist. If you offer the same mobile application, your guests will be less likely to walk away. With a reservation and waitlist management app, your customers don’t need to call and your staff can spend less time answering the phone and spelling names.
This article tells restaurant owners about how waitlist software can empower their businesses.
Restaurant waitlist software: Workflow and benefits
A restaurant waitlist app is a queue management platform to improve your guests’ waiting experience and your staff’s efficiency. It allows customers to quickly join an online queue via their smartphones and track their place in line. An automated waitlist management software also contains an admin dashboard where managers can check the number of guests in the queue, send notifications, chat with customers, and manage the online waitlist.
Let’s focus on the specific benefits for customers and restaurants of using a wait line management application.
More efficient and transparent queueing — A restaurant queue management system helps restaurants improve waiting line processing. Customers can simply enter their phone numbers and names to join a digital queue instead of a physical line. Software tracks the customer’s place in the waitlist and predicts the flow of guests. Thus, by going transparent, restaurants reduce wait times.
Improved customer loyalty — By introducing a waitlist app, restaurants adopt a policy of transparency regarding wait times. This reduces the number of complaints among customers, improves service quality, and builds customer loyalty.
Better staff productivity — Queue management software helps a restaurant’s administrative staff organize the restaurant’s work and avoid the chaos of managing several waitlists at the same time. A waitlist system also gives personnel knowledge of what they need to prepare for particular customers.
Access to customer insights — With a restaurant waitlist app, restaurant administrators can drill down into significant metrics: average bookings, average wait times, number of walkaways, customer feedback. With the help of powerful reports, restaurant owners can better understand their business performance and identify the busiest hours and days to make strategic adjustments.
Increase conversions and revenue — Restaurants can miss out on a great part of their potential revenue by not fixing their queue-related chaos. With a custom wait management app, restaurants prevent diners and profits from walking out the door.
Physical distancing — Virtual lines also help restaurant guests stay safe. The restaurant industry has undergone many changes to develop COVID-safe environments. Many restaurants have reduced the number of tables, rewritten their menus, reorganized their kitchens, retrained personnel, and improved restaurant delivery services. Virtual lines are safe and avoid physical queueing.
Best waitlist apps for effective restaurant queue management
One of the best restaurant waitlist apps, the Yelp waitlist app, partners with 10,000 restaurants, allowing them to manage waitlists, control capacity, limit guest interactions, and improve the front of the house. 81% of diners are likely to come back to a restaurant that partners with Yelp.
From the Yelp app, customers can quickly check how long a waitlist is and join the line by tapping a button and selecting seating preferences. A customer’s wait time is customized by party size. Customers receive messages with a link to track their place in line.
In the host app, the waitlist is automatically updated to display reserved tables and people on the waitlist. Through the host app, administrators can manage waitlists and restaurant floor plans, generate daily reports, and track guest histories and preferences.
OpenTable is used by over 52,000 restaurants around the world. Every month, around 26 million diners use the OpenTable app to check restaurant availability, book a table, or add their names to a waitlist.
Customers can use OpenTable to search for a place to eat with dozens of filters including location, food, price, and rating. They can find restaurants via the mobile app and join a waitlist before they arrive. Once on a waitlist, customers are updated on their position in line and are notified when a table is available.
Administrators can use OpenTable to complete tasks beyond creating a waitlist and keeping customers updated about their places in line. Administrators can manage the floor through the host app, access the restaurant’s guestbook, see guests’ dining histories, and generate reports.
The TablesReady app is an intelligent digital waitlist and paging system that works well for large food chains and standalone restaurants. There are two ways a guest can join the waitlist of a TablesReady partner restaurant: by leaving their contact information with the restaurant’s host/hostess or by making a reservation themselves on the restaurant’s website.
Once a customer is on the waitlist, TablesReady shoots them a text message with details and a personal link to track their place in line. Administrators can view customer responses in the message window and mark customers as in line, served, or canceled. Waits are estimated for each customer depending on the party size. This helps restaurants reduce the number of no-shows.
To use NextME waitlist software, a restaurant embeds an HTML widget into their website so guests can join the waitlist remotely. Another option for guests to get on a waitlist is to call the restaurant and provide details to the host or hostess. In both cases, the NextME system asks for the customer’s phone number, name, and party size. There’s also a notes section on each booking for special requests.
Guests receive automated messages that ensure they’re on the waitlist. These messages include a link to a website where customers can track their position in line and see the restaurant’s specials. This allows visitors to cut the time at the table deciding what to order.
Customers then receive another message when they’re next in line so they can either confirm their reservation or cancel it.
The Waitwhile app is a waitlist and queue management platform for restaurants. It allows guests to join the line from the comfort of their home and allows restaurant staff to manage multiple waitlists. From the host dashboard, hosts can send reminders to their guests when the restaurant is ready to accommodate them.
Reminders are customized and include the guest’s name, place in the waitlist, and wait time. In the Waitwhile app, restaurant hosts can assign waiters to customers to promote team management.
Waitwhile allows hosts to generate valuable analytics with insights into average wait times, the hours with the most guests, and staff workloads. This queue management app also allows hosts to collect customer data like phone numbers, reservation times, party sizes, and service preferences to ensure a great customer experience.
The Hostme waitlist management tool allows restaurants to accept orders from their websites, over the phone, and via social media accounts. In a single app, hosts can manage multiple orders, supervise table occupancy for the day, check waitlists, and assign waiters to tables.
Through the Hostme app, diners can join a restaurant’s waitlist while they’re on the go and receive notifications when their table is ready. Diners can even skip a turn to let another party in ahead of them in case they’re running late. A restaurant loyalty program can be the first line of defence against customer dissatisfaction. Through restaurant loyalty apps, customers can be rewarded with free drinks and appetizers in case they’re experiencing long wait times for a free table. This way, restaurants can also reinforce brand loyalty through VIP access to products and exclusive discounts.
Build vs buy: Off-the-shelf or custom restaurant waitlist app?
Even though ready-made waitlist software for restaurants offers a quick solution for managing physical queues, this software has drawbacks. In the table below, we compare off-the-shelf and custom restaurant waitlist software so you can see why building your own branded waitlist app is a wise choice.
Provides the same functionality and features for all restaurant businesses
Custom code fulfills specific requirements and business needs
You can’t change the software’s functionality and features
The app’s scope and functionality can be expanded or narrowed with time
Restrictions concerning integration with third-party platforms
Easily integrated with existing in-house software and third-party services
Can take a long time to get in touch with the support team and have bugs fixed
Quick support and maintenance
All customer data is left with the third-party software owner
Gather, store, and process your own customer data and use valuable insights to make business decisions
Another important factor is pricing. Off-the-shelf solutions are expensive in the long run. Let’s see how much you’re going to spend monthly and yearly.
$249 per month ($2,988 per year)
$39 per month ($468 per year) plus $1.50 per network cover
and $0.25 per cover for an integrated booking widget
$249 per month ($2,988 per year) plus
$1 per network cover
$449 per month ($5,388 per year) plus
$1 per network cover
$69.95 per month ($839.40 per year)
$49 per month ($588 per year)
$129 per month ($1,548 per year)
Cost depends on features
$29 per month ($348 per year)
$39 per month ($468 per year)
$99 per month ($1,188 per year)
$149 per month ($1,788 per year)
How much will it cost to develop a custom waitlist application for your restaurant? Custom apps are cost-effective over time. To get a rough estimate based on your requirements, get in touch with an outsourcing software development company with experience building restaurant apps.
Manage long customer queues with your own waitlist management software
When your restaurant is accepting waitlist requests from many channels, you need a customized solution to meet your customers’ needs and allow your hosts to better manage walk-ins, track statistics, and market your restaurant all in one place. Even if you’re considering some of the best waitlist apps for restaurants, building your own software is still a wise step.
At Steelkiwi, our team isn’t new to restaurant app development. We’ve partnered with small restaurants and large chains to help them introduce mobile and web applications to improve their businesses and grow brand loyalty. If you’re serious about bringing your queues from the physical dimension to the digital, share your ideas with our sales representatives. Let’s find a solution together!