5 Useful Tips for Handling Large Groups at Your Restaurant McAllen Point of Sale

Crowded restaurantIf you’ve ever witnessed a restaurant server take on a large dinner party, you’ve likely looked with pity as he or she anxiously nods to the needy pleas for highchairs, inconvenient seating arrangements, drink refills and split checks. Fortunately, if managed correctly, large groups can be great for business. If your restaurant establishes a reputation for being a great place for large groups to eat, you’ll add to your customer base and increase sales. 

Here are 5 useful tips to help you succeed:

1. Simplify order entry

When dealing with large parties, the ordering process can become somewhat tedious. Take steps to simplify the order entry process so that your servers are able to perform their jobs both quickly and accurately. When a group is ready to place their orders, have your servers ask if they will require separate checks up front; this will make the final payment process run more smoothly.

Certain POS functions and ordering options can also help you to avoid complications while serving large tables. With Future POS, for instance, the “Split a Single Item” button function allows you to split items, such as shared appetizers or a bottle of wine, at one table equally on separate checks. “Course Fire Delay” is another function that allows servers to enter an entire meal but prevent certain items from being sent to kitchen until a later time. Servers can also maximize customer service by using handhelds. These devices enhance order accuracy, and they are great for entering complicated tableside order requests.

2. Emphasize communication

Maintaining effective communication between your front-of-house and back-of-house operations is critical at all times, especially when you’re dealing with large groups. If guests are placing special order requests, sharing an entree or ordering certain items as appetizers, make sure that your servers are communicating that to the kitchen.

For example, Future POS features an “Enter Comment” button that allows servers to add a small message, such as a certain prep instruction, to the chit that prints to the kitchen. Restaurant operators can also choose to incorporate kitchen display systems (KDS) or video display units (VDUs). These systems output orders to a visual display rather than a remote printer, and they can simplify the job of your kitchen staff when it comes to receiving orders.

3. Prep your staff

Don't Panic Sticky NoteWhen a table of 20 comes bustling into your lobby, it’s easy to become overwhelmed; however, try not to panic. By remaining calm, and encouraging your staff to do the same, you’ll be better equipped to meet your customers’ demands. The key to maintaining an atmosphere of composure? Be prepared!

You can start by ensuring that all employees have undergone proper training so that they are ready to rise to the challenge. Have practice sessions during which servers and kitchen staff can gain experience on how to handle the pressure of serving large groups of customers and fulfilling large orders.

Finally, don’t forget to use common sense. If you’re expecting several large groups at one time, don’t under schedule, and don’t choose that night to start all of your new, inexperienced employees.

4. Stay on top of reservations

If you know that a large dinner party is coming ahead of time, you at least have time to prepare. Encourage guests to make reservations in advance so that your restaurant staff is ready for their arrival. To stay organized, you can use your POS software’s customer reservation module or an interface to an online reservation system, like OpenTable.

An article from Food Service Warehouse offers some pointers for taking customer reservations:

  • Consider layout – Take table size and location into account when reserving seating for larger groups
  • Use technology – Take advantage of technologies that simplify the reservation process, like your POS system and OpenTable
  • Hold tables appropriately – Make sure that tables are cleared off and marked as reserved in advance of the party’s arrival
  • Ask for a credit card – By requiring a credit card to place a reservation, you can prevent no-shows by adding a charge

5. Don’t neglect your other customers

It’s one thing to direct more attention towards a larger table; it’s another thing to completely ignore the needs of the rest of the customers in your dining room. Make sure that your employees are aware of the needs of other guests. Sometimes large groups can cause a ruckus, distracting others and inhibiting their dining experience.

If someone complains about the noise level or requests to move to a different area of the restaurant, address the request with a professional and accommodating attitude. Also, be sure to inform guests of wait times and possible delays when you are serving numerous large groups at one time.

Related Posts:

“3 POS Features that Will Improve Your Dining Room Operations”

“Table Service POS: 5 Reasons Why Servers Love Future”


Sources: Food Service Warehouse

Image Credits: Kevin Galens, Quinn Dombrowski