The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

We all know the drill. We squeeze our way up to the little wooden podium and with dread ask the hostess how long our wait will be. She writes your name down at the bottom of a ruffled piece of paper on a clipboard, and hands you a plastic gadget. You’re told that the plastic gadget will light up and vibrate, but you’re secretly concerned that you might wander too far away from the podium and it won’t ring. You’ll be skipped over, and you’ll die hungry and alone.

Fear not! No Wait Inc is here to the rescue. They offer restaurants a convenient iOS app that will let their hosts and hostesses toss those clipboards away. Here’s how it works:

  • Restaurants sign up for the No Wait service and download the app, preferably to an iPad.
  • When a customer walks up, the host or hostess enters their info into the app, including basic items such as their name, size of party, estimated wait time and a phone number for the party. All but the last two are typically written down on paper, but in this case they’re stored in the app.
  • Eventually, a queue of waiting customers accumulates

  • When added to the queue, the guest gets a confirmation message. It includes a link to host-updatable information on the current wait time. When a table frees up and a party is ready to be seated, your host or hostess notifies them by tapping the notify button near their name.
  • The guest gets another text message letting them know their table is ready

  • Lastly, the host taps the seating button by the guest’s name to indicate the party has been seated and they can be removed from the queue.
  • The app also allows the host or hostess to track “walk outs”, including how long they had been quoted for a wait time. All this I’m sure is valuable info for analysis later by restaurant management.
  • The app can also manage reservations as well. Thus completely replacing host/hostess podium paperwork.

Besides the convenience aspect of this app, what’s interesting about this app is the ability to gather data over time that could prove useful in the overall management and planning of the restaurant. In addition, it can serve as an interesting way to send links/information/offers to patrons. Imagine if that initial welcome message included a link to an interesting Internet item to read, like this.

UPDATE (4/12): Every day, you get a handy summary e-mail that looks like this: