Analyze your demand compared to increased dessert profit potential. First impressions are important; you may not get a second chance to woo a potential customer who is turned off by a long wait time. Evaluate your current demand, compared to lost opportunity when determining whether to prioritize desserts or table turnover time. Analyze the amount of reservations you have on a given night, compared to the average length of time tables wait, and how long they take to complete their meal, with dessert and without. (For example, The Daily Mail reports that diners now spend an average of 1 hour and 55 minutes in a restaurant, compared to just over an hour a decade ago, simply due to engagement with smartphones and mobile devices.)
Instruct your front-of-house staff, including hosts and valets, to capture the lost sales from potential diners who inquire about wait times and then leave if they determine it’s too long. If you’re already losing business because of long wait times, focus on how you can improve your operations to seat the customers who want to dine with you.
Understand how dessert can contribute to overall experience. Whether you should put more effort into “selling” desserts or churning tables also rests on the type of restaurant you have, and the brand experience you want customers to have in it. For example, restaurants that tend to draw a celebratory crowd will likely benefit from encouraging diners to stay for dessert — both for profit and for the potential to establish a lasting memory that will make the customer want to return, and tell others about you.