July 4th 2020 marked a momentous occasion. Pub owners across England shined their taps and dusted off their top shelves to welcome back eager punters, thirsty for a proper (non-plastic cup) pint.
From seating to supply chains to staff rotas, pubs have transformed with break-neck speed to meet social distancing demands and succeed under a pandemic. One of the changes to affect both owners and the public’s experience is table service.
Brought in to prevent the spread through close contact, is table service something pubs should hold onto post-pandemic?
Why table service matters
Coronavirus aside, table service is a huge investment for traditional pubs. It often means more serving staff, more training and more seating, not to mention the need for water-tight logistics and agility.
However, the investment isn’t without the reward. Waiting on your customers at their table, rather than making them self-serve can have a number of benefits to your business. From increased profits to customer loyalty, here’s why table service could be here to stay.
Regardless of the space and accessibility of a pub, it’s not always easy or enjoyable for wheelchair users, customers with a disability, or parents with prams to queue at a crowded bar. By offering table service, you automatically take away this hurdle and make ordering one less thing to worry about.
It helps you upsell
Instead of customers glancing through your drinks menu at the bar, where serving staff are often rushed and have little time to advise, table service allows waiters to talk customers through the menu with enthusiasm.
By explaining different drinks and offers that suit the customers’ preferences, servers can upsell to a more expensive bottle of wine, premium gin, or even persuade customers to add on some bar snacks or food to accompany drinks.
It can increase average spend
Often customers are put off ordering more drinks if they see a queue at the bar. They may hold off, drink their current drink slower, or even move on to another pub.
If bar staff are tuned in to their surroundings, they can spot customers who are running low and offer them another round of drinks before they have even thought about it. This often helps customers stay for longer, therefore increasing their spend.
It puts customers at ease
Table service creates a less rushed experience for diners, and if done properly can limit their waiting time drastically.
By taking away the legwork of queuing at a bar, which has its own tensions (who gets served first etc.) customers are free to spend more time catching up with friends and loved ones, rather than waiting for drinks.
Ensuring your table service fits the bill
If done well, table service will make customers feel relaxed and looked-after in your pub, resulting in higher spend and return visits. However, it’s a commitment that comes with extra costs and training, that can’t be overlooked.
If done poorly, it can damage your business reputation and ruin the overall experience for diners. We surveyed frequent diners across the UK and found out that their biggest frustrations were:
- Waiting too long for their food (59%)
- Rude staff (51%)
- Waiting too long to pay (19%)
To implement table service successfully, pubs owners need to consider:
- The amount of staff needed to keep the waiting time at a minimum during peak hours
- The additional training required to help staff learn the food and drinks menus, carry food safely, upsell etc.
- Seating arrangements that allow serving staff to access customers in a timely manner and observe when they are waiting
- The technology needed to help communicate orders between your waiting staff, bar staff and chefs
How can integrated payments help?
Splitting the bill shouldn’t make your waiting staff’s life harder. By connecting your EPOS to your card machines, you can split payments, without the calculator. Staff no longer have to worry about matching items to people or double keying as your till is perfectly synced.
Customers can stay comfortable and finish their drinks as they pay at the table, and give gratuities with card payment.