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Operational Efficiency

Does your Waitlist enhance hospitality and growth, or is it just a waitlist?

Mike Vichich
created on
Oct 04, 2016

There are several restaurant waitlist apps already on the market today, some of whom are backed by the biggest names in restaurant technology.


So, why did we build a new one?


After talking with more than 300 restaurateurs about their current waitlist systems and processes, we heard about the same challenges over and over:

1) It doesn't help deliver a better hospitality experience

2) It misses opportunities to increase dining room utilization

3) It doesn't help the restaurant drive top line revenue growth


Wisely's the only waitlist system out there that solves these three challenges. Let's explore how.



Hospitality Experience


Great hospitality is about recognizing guests and making sure they leave smiling. Great waitlists make that easier to achieve — across shifts, locations, and staff changes. How does Wisely uniquely help with recognition and guest experience?


Recognizing Walk Ins at the Host Stand:

Imagine if your hosts knew a person's name and phone number the moment they walked in. Two important things would be different: the interaction would be highly personal ("So good to see you again, Mrs Smith!") and it would be shorter (skip asking for name and phone). If your guests have connected to your wifi in the past or if they have our app, you'll know the moment they walk in. If not, while your host types a name or phone number Wisely automatically searches your guest database, eliminating the need for punching keys. Once you've selected a guest, Wisely will pull in information on that guest: visit counts, prior preferences, status in your rewards program, and so on. For the first time, you can give your staff the tools to make the first impression a "wow" moment. 



Restaurant Waitlist and Reservation Software 

Improving Server Table Greetings:

Again, it's about the first impression. We like to turn "Have you dined with us before?" into "It's good to see you again." That small acknowledgement goes a long way. On Wisely, there are two ways that personalized greeting can be achieved. First, by integrating directly into your POS, so that named checks are automatically created when a party is sat. Second, by putting a tablet near your POS, so staff can glance and see that seated at table 47 are the three-time visitors, Mr and Mrs Richardson. 


Remembering Preferences: 

Your system should automatically capture item and modification preferences as they're entered by your staff, without any additional note taking. Then, the next time a guest arrives, your staff should be able to access notes like "expensive wine", "light on the sauce", and "Dressing on side", so staff can ask the guest targeted questions. 


Requesting Minor Feedback on Service & Food:

Guest feedback can give actionable insight to the kitchen, and ops staff. However, when Wisely receives feedback on food & service, we'll have the ability to ask specific follow up questions. For example, if someone rates service poorly, we can ask what exactly their server, John, could've done better. That feedback can be directly passed to the Manager On Duty, so that John can receive coaching. Same thing goes for feedback on food: if a guest rated the food poorly, we automatically ask which items were problematic and why. That information can be passed along to kitchen staff. Having the ability to listen to feedback is half the battle.


We like to say Hospitality = Empathy * Action. With a little assistance from us on the action front, your staff's empathy will get more mileage. 



Dining Room Utilization


Logistics, Airlines, Hotels, and Restaurants. Companies in each of these industries live and die based on their ability to maximize utilization of its assets. After all, who wants to buy a plane / build a hotel / build out a restaurant only to have it go three quarters full? Consequently, billions of dollars have been invested in search of holy grail, asset-utilization technology. The closer you get to end consumers, however, the more variable and therefore challenging it becomes. Wisely offers a variety of basic and advanced features to meet the needs of all restaurants.


Wait time Estimation:

Running the door is hard work: interacting with guests who are hangry, and keeping 50 things in your brain at once. When competing against pen and paper, waitlist systems have been proven to more accurately predict wait times. That's not surprising. What is surprising is the level of information Wisely takes into account about each guest in the dining room and what they've ordered, plus who's ahead of the new party on the waitlist and how long they're likely to take. The result is a system that gets more accurate the longer you're on the system. Let's look at three practical examples. First, if you run a deep dish pizza restaurant and 75% of the dining room submitted an order for a deep dish at the same time, your wait time quote just got longer. Second, if the five parties ahead of a given party on the waitlist are likely to order a deep dish, wait time probably went up. Third, you can determine what information to present to a guest (parties ahead, estimated wait time), based on how likely they are to abandon the waitlist. All in all, the goal is to enable restaurants to A) accurately know how long it'll take to seat a given party, and B) give them choices about how best they want to communicate that information.


Reservation Estimation:

The blessing of reservations it that restaurants able to virtually guarantee a minimum number of tables served on a given night. Padding, of course, is the curse. People arrive late. They camp at tables. So, you get times where you're running a 45 minute wait, yet tables are sitting open at the same time. "Gah!", groan you and your guests. The trick is to predict the right number of tables to put up for reservation each night. If you have a massive excel sheet and a few hours, you could figure it out for yourself, but we like to make your life easier.  


Table Utlization:

The ideal system would capture details such as how long, on average, an individual on the waitlist takes from "Table Ready Notification Sent" to "Sat" and how long an individual takes from "Check Down" to "Table Available". Then during service, the POS would automatically update whose checks are down, estimate when the table will be open, and then recommend when to send the "Table Ready Notification" to the staff, based on how long it'll take the next party to arrive. 


One major client shared that a 7% increase in their table turns results in a 2% improvement in company profit. Practically, that means changing a 100 minute turn average into a 93 minute turn average. For the first time, the tools exist to cut inefficiency without rushing guests.



Top Line Revenue Growth


Dining room utilization is a question that applies Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, if you're lucky. But it's only possible to optimize your dining room, if you're on the verge of being overbooked. Wisely is uniquely positioned to put restaurants on the verge of being overbooked, because we're deeply ingrained in operations.


Lookalike Targeting:

A system that's tied into your operations should know answers to the following: Who are your best guests? Who's coming in during weekday lunch? What are the items that most new customers try? Most systems don't even collect that information, much less do anything smart with it. Ideally, that information would automatically input into marketing campaigns online to drive visits from valuable, new guests, without intervention from your marketing department. 


Demand Estimation:

Some days are busier than others — that's just the nature of the restaurant beast. Often, managers can predict how busy a shift will be, but it's impossible to connect that with a real-time, short-term marketing campaign that can change the day's results. There have been too many moving parts and manual interventions required; by the time you could get them all mobilized, the day was over. Not anymore. Wisely uses a variety of inputs (historical data, weather, nearby events and holidays, and so on) to forecast demand levels for the coming days and weeks. Automatically, we scale up and down marketing efforts to make sure your dining is as full as possible. 


In essence, restaurants using Wisely's operational tools have the option to use Wisely as a digital agency, one that scales up and down automatically, based on predicted demand. 





In closing, we built Wisely's waitlist system to help restaurants enhance hospitality, maximize dining room utilization, and grow their top lines. If any of those challenges is a priority for you, we should chat. Please send us an email to sales@getwisely.com, or request a demo below.


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Wisely empowers restaurant groups to grow and sustain profitability by acquiring valuable new guests, converting them into regulars, and keeping them happy for life. Our software is easy-to-use and enhances productivity, so staff can focus on what really matters. For more information or media inquiries, please contact us at hello@getwisely.com.