Maximising yield can be a tricky thing for hospitality venues to navigate. They are tasked with trying to get as many bookings in as possible. Once patrons are inside and seated, the challenge is encouraging them to order generously – so as to get the most out of each booking – and getting them out the door quickly, so the venue can move on to the next booking. At the same time, venues must be conscious of not packing guests in all-at-once, and overwhelming the kitchen. They must also provide excellent service to ensure that patrons return. According to ResDiary’s ANZ Customer Support Lead Declan O’Toole, maximising yield using available resources, and within staff capabilities, is a delicate balancing act for any hospitality venue. Here’s a few strategies that might be helpful for venues in getting the most out of each time slot and booking.
Speedy service and strategic booking times
A key component of maximising yield is fitting in as many guests as possible within a day/evening. To achieve this, venues should consider strategies that get customers in and out of the venue as efficiently as possible. According to O’Toole, venues should remove any challenges that can delay or complicate service.
“[Particularly during busy periods] venues should consider a simplified menu. [It] is easier for staff to handle, and they can process and manage orders at a faster rate. This will allow the venue to seat more reservations,” O’Toole says.
He adds that venues should consider using close-outs, and splitting booking times so diners are only able to book at the beginning and end of service.
“If service runs from 6pm to 9pm, the last thing you want to do is take bookings at 7pm. There’s not enough time to take a booking before the 7pm reservation arrives, and patrons will be there until closing time. If you close out the middle part of service, you can sell that same table twice,” he says.
“At a restaurant I used to work at, the rule was that no-one could make a reservation that started with the number seven. If we didn’t stick to that rule – we only sold that table once. For a restaurant with 25 tables, with an average of four people at each table, we turned a small restaurant into one that could serve 300-400 people in a night.
“That was because we were as clever as possible [in the way we used] time slots.”
Think carefully about where guests are seated and, once they’re in, upsell.
According to O’Toole, it’s difficult to determine how best to utilise a venues’ floor space, as it depends on the layout of the venue at hand. But, he says there are a few things to consider, which may help to maximise patrons while still promoting the venue.
For walk-ins and early guests, O’Toole suggests seating them at the window. He says that passers-by are unlikely to be attracted to an empty restaurant. But, if they see patrons dining in, they may be more inclined to step inside. He also says that venues should try to save the bigger tables for larger bookings, and seat smaller parties at tables that take up less space. This ensures that the venue isn’t short-selling, and has the capacity to fit in as many people as possible.
O’Toole adds that there are strategies that floor staff can implement which encourage patrons to order specific items on the menu quickly and frequently.
“[Floor staff should] immediately give patrons their menu, and talk about particular dishes that they want to sell. [If staff are efficient] the reservation will be in and out after three courses, and they can move onto the next booking,” he says.
“Another strategy to encourage movement within the restaurant is to recommend a drink as soon as they sit down. They might not order it immediately, but by mentioning it, they might order it later on.
“Also, sharing which wine or dessert goes with a corresponding dish can leave patrons feeling confident that they are in great hands. They may also feel more comfortable booking more items on the menu.
“It adds to the customer experience, and leaves the bottom line looking good as well”
O’Toole stresses the importance of using restaurant data to customise the venue’s marketing strategies, which can help to maximise yield. He says that ResDiary’s support team can create booking widgets which specifically target a select group of patrons – for example, people who have dined at the venue more than three times – and encourage them to return again. Attached to these widgets might be a 10 percent discount, or a complimentary drink on arrival.
“There’s lots of strategies that can be applied to information gathering and marketing. Venues can pull up ResDiary Reports to see if a customer’s birthday is coming up, and offer them an incentive to reserve a table,” he says.
Venues should make sure they are using booking information as cleverly as possible in order to get the most out of their venue.”
Maximising yield is vital to the success of any hospitality venue. Management should look at everything – from the menu, to the seating plan, to the marketing and promotional approach – in order to maximise their yield, without burning-out staff in the process.
Disclaimer: This guide is general in nature and does not take into account your individual circumstances. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether this is right for your business.