4 Tips to Turn Double Sittings from Disaster to Delightful

March 31, 2017

Double sittings at restaurants are a fantastic way to turn the tables. It's a great method of guaranteeing that there will be a turnover of customers on each table, and to steer them away from the crush of 7pm or 7:30pm.

According to surveys in the past few years, table-turning is one of the biggest gripes of diners, but how do you not upset customers? The most important factor to note is that diners do not mind if there are two sittings, but they do mind when it is poorly managed. So manage it well.

These next few tips should help you on your way to double down your diners without detriment to you or your customers.

1. Notify your customers - but only when relevant!

It's very important to notify your customers that they will need to be out by a certain time if they are dining with you or this will throw your night out of whack. But take note of what your restaurant capacity is when booking, and use common sense. On a quiet Tuesday if it is shoved down the customer's throat that they need to have left by 8pm when the restaurant is half empty, this will be infuriating. As a general, customers will not like to have a deadline on their dinner - but if it is busy they will be more than understanding. If it's not, then they may feel rudely pushed out.

Turn a notification on for your online bookings. We would go as far to say to run reports through your booking system and see how many customers are walking through the door (both walk-ins and bookings) to fully understand your customers so that you know when to notify.
Use common sense, recognise your patterns of trade and make sure that as the customer walks in the door they know that they are able to stay later if possible.
An electronic booking system is the best way to manage your tables, and integration when running reports is KEY.

2. Partner up

Take advantage of the early sitting, turn it into a positive! Partner up with events, movie theatres, or real theatres in the area who have late timings. Offer an incentive for those customers to come to your restaurant before the event. Talk to a nearby business, and anyone with a ticket can receive a deal for dining with you. Get creative! If you don't have a dessert menu, maybe the cake cafe around the corner would be willing to help out.

Talk to local businesses in the area, see who you can partner with. Have some fun with it, and make sure it's well advertised. Help each other out, share the love.

3. Don't kick them OUT out.

A separate space in your venue can be a great way to funnel customers into other avenues. It means that they will still feel welcome, vacate the table, and also raise a bit of revenue. When notifying them of your "out" time, let them know that they are free to sit at the bar, or on the terrace to have a few drinks. If you're feeling generous offer them a free coffee or drink pre or post dinner.

If you already have a spot? Great! Just make sure the customer is aware that they are welcome to stick around

4. Finally, don't forget the benefits!

Don't forget that double sittings also benefit the customer. It means that you're able to accommodate for people that may not have been able to get a seat. As Frank Cammora said “We already have a five-to-six-week waiting list; if we didn’t have double sittings, the waiting list would be twice as long.” The customer may not be able to get a table at the time they want, but at least they can get a table. And more importantly there is a reason why restaurants use double sittings. Double sittings help to increase revenue and keep our hospitality industry booming! So let's make it boom!

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