One of the biggest selling points of quick service and fast casual restaurants is that they’re fast. When you look up from the register to see a long line of customers staring down at their mobile phones instead of eating lunch or engaging with your brand, something has clearly gone wrong. Let’s explore a few ways the situation can be remedied—and fast!
Promote online and mobile app ordering.
Stop lines before they start by promoting online and mobile ordering on your website and social channels. Even if a customer is already inside your restaurant, it should never be too late to place an order online or via an app. Let customers know that instead of waiting in line they can take a seat, pull up your restaurant’s app to place an order, and you’ll deliver it to their table. If pre-orders pick up pace, open a separate pick-up line for order-ahead.
Offer kiosk ordering.
Movie theaters and airlines have been offering ticket kiosks to help minimize lines for years. If your customers walk in and see a line, provide the option of using a kiosk to place and pay for their order. Studies have shown that in addition to eliminating the need to wait in line, the upselling capabilities of kiosks are similar to those of online ordering, so they pay for themselves over time. If your kiosk can recall a customer’s past orders, you can speed up ordering even more.
Separate cash from credit and mobile pay.
During busy lunch rushes, if space allows, have a register open for cash and another for credit and mobile pay. Separating lines by forms of payment will speed up the line, encourage quicker payment methods, and allow you to assign staff where most needed.
Walk the line with a tablet.
We’ve seen “line busting” practiced in long fast food drive-thru lines all over the country. Send a staff member from behind the counter to walk through the line with a tablet, interact with customers, and take orders to send through to the kitchen. Once the guest’s order is placed and paid for, they can find a seat and await their order.
Entertain your customers.
If all else fails and the line is out the door, keep the perceived wait time to a minimum with:
- Creative animation on your digital menu board
- Fun quizzes or food facts posted on your walls
- Sign-up opportunities for your loyalty app
- Messages about your social media pages or promotions.
Technology is your friend when you are looking for ways to cut down on wait times and process payments faster. The more you encourage guests to order and pay via kiosks and their smartphones, the faster they can get in and out and on with their day. And, as they build a record of their preferences in your restaurant’s database, guests will have the ability to repeat orders in the future, cutting order times down even further.