There are many ways that knowing your average party size can help your restaurant’s bottom line.
From making sure you get the most from your seating arrangement to understanding how much food to order, there are many reasons you should be aware of the group size that normally dines at your establishment.
Let's dive into how to calculate your average party size, and then how this restaurant data can help:
How to Calculate Your Restaurant's Average Party Size
Before you implement policies to help your bottom line, you’ll need to determine a couple of things. First, you’ll need to calculate the average table size at your restaurant. Here's a step-by-step process to do so:
- Choose a time span of at least a month, but ideally two or three months.
- Ask your servers or hostess to keep track of the number of people sitting at tables. They would record in a spreadsheet, or on a single line per table, a simple number. It might look like this:
Number of People at Table
- Add up the total number of people who’ve dined in your establishment over the set time frame.
- Divide the total number of diners by the tables served. This gives you an average table size. This can, of course, vary by season and special events.
Alternatively, if you have a POS with advanced reporting, you can simply set a timeframe and run a report to gather total guests served and total orders. Then, you can simply divide those numbers to reach an average party size, drilled down by orders. These numbers as well as many others can be sent in a nightly email so you can track them day by day.
Similar to any other everyday activity, you can delegate the responsibility of keeping track of average table size to the head of waitstaff so you can focus on the profitability of the restaurant.
Why Average Party Size is Important
Determine Your Best Restaurant Seating Pattern
You’ll also want to be sure your restaurant is set up in a way that is conducive to seating the most diners at peak times. The last thing you want is for diners to have to wait an hour to be seated, which is a good way to lose guests. The more efficient you can be with seating, the better your bottom line.
You should allow 12 square feet per person for restaurant-style seating and 18 inches of space between the edge of table to back of chair when the diner is seated. Try using a diagonal seating pattern to save floor space. You may also want to add some booths, as they require only 8 feet of space per person.
You'll definitely want to consult the International Building Code and your local fire marshall to be sure you are allowing adequate evacuation space in case of an emergency. It's one thing to make the most of the space you have, and it's another to put people in danger’s way because they are too packed in to move.
Anticipate Order Influxes
The knowledge of your average table size is just the beginning. You may also want to invest in a restaurant CRM system that allows you to track frequent diners and big spenders at your restaurant.
Or, you could track the peak times that diners visit your restaurant, simply by searching Google and looking at the "Popular Times" widget on the side. Depending on your city, the peak time for business may fall later due to traffic delays or accidents.
If you run a special during cocktail hour, knowing this information can help you determine a rough estimate of how much food to order to meet that demand, preventing waste or expensive rush orders because you’ve run out of ingredients.
Eliminate Waiting-Area Stress
Be kind to your hostesses. Knowing when demand is highest for a certain table size can help you make seating adjustments before peak times, add more seating to your waiting area, and improve turn time exponentially.
For example, if you're seeing that the majority of diners between 4 and 6 p.m. are parties for two, then you can more easily configure your seating to accommodate them, perhaps adding smaller tables or booths along the wall. If groups average three or four just after that time frame, you can make adjustments as the first set of diners finish their meals.
Determine Appropriate Staffing Levels
Having firsthand knowledge about your anticipated number of diners also allows you to staff the restaurant so you have enough servers and cooks.
However, you don’t want to have servers standing around without tables to wait on, so during your nonpeak times, you can schedule fewer people. This will improve service as well as keep your staff happier.
Track how productive your employees are, including tables served, to make better decisions about your restaurant staff schedule.
Over to You
Have you ever calculated average party size?
How did knowing average party size help your restaurant?
Comment below to be a part of the conversation!