Want to Turn More Tables at Your Restaurant? Improve Your Front-of-House Operations With a Waitlist App

Want to run faster? There’s an app for that. Want to hear a book read to you while you drive your commute? There’s an app for that. Want to keep track of your many different passwords? There’s an app for that. 

Want to alert your guests of wait times and get them on the list? There’s an app for that.

Waitlist systems are becoming much more popular for casual dining establishments because they decrease the wait time for walk-in diners. These apps make it easy for restaurants to alert their diners that their tables are ready.

Nowait is one of these systems gaining some traction in the restaurant industry. This waitlist software helps a restaurant build long-term customer loyalty, streamline the front of house operations to turn more tables, while giving daily analytic reports. 

And guests love it to because they don’t feel like they are waiting and are not stuck in the front of the restaurant while their table is being occupied with other guests.  

In the video above, we visit a Chili’s store in south Florida, that has had success with Nowait, to see how the app has improved front-of-house operations and increased restaurant revenue. 

We also sat down with Nowait’s CEO Ware Sykes to see how this software is one of the valuable tools an operator could be using to improve their restaurant business.  

Ware Sykes, CEO of Nowait | Nowait

Ware Sykes, CEO of Nowait | Nowait

Foodable: Why does the restaurant industry need waitlist apps?

Sykes: Our daily lives have become accustomed to an on-demand economy, enabling us to get whatever we want, whenever we want it. With companies such as Amazon, Uber, and HotelTonight, an intolerance for waiting despite last-minute behavior is now standard -- and immediate gratification is everything. 

Nowait is helping the restaurant industry realize that providing fantastic hospitality starts even before their guests walk in the door. Allowing consumers to use their mobile phones to “get in line” remotely at their favorite restaurants -- that don’t take reservations -- provides them with VIP treatment that sets the tone for their entire dining experience.

Foodable: Why is Nowait different than other waitlist systems out there?

Sykes: Nowait is the first mobile network for casual-dining, non-reservation restaurants. For thousands of restaurants across the country, it enables them to run more efficiently and grow their business by integrating, streamlining, and optimizing the entire front-of-house. 

For consumers, the app improves their dining experience by giving back the most important thing in people’s lives – their time. Millions of guests use Nowait to add themselves to a restaurant’s waitlist, receive texts when their table is ready, and privately rate their experiences at the end of the meal. Soon, Yelp will be integrating Nowait into its platform, at which time guests will be able to get in line through Yelp at restaurants across the country that have signed up for Nowait's service. Overall, our technology, data, and exceptional customer service are our three biggest differentiators.

Foodable: What have been some of the challenges as a tech startup in the restaurant industry?

Sykes: One of the biggest challenges for us has been convincing restaurants to use an iPad to replace grease-pen and paper, as well as buzzers, which are archaic and inefficient “tools” that the restaurant industry has been using for decades. That said, after using Nowait after just one shift, they quickly understand that Nowait offers a “win-win” solution for restaurants and guests, alike.

Foodable: How many restaurants use this software? What about diners using the app?

Sykes: Currently, thousands of restaurants – ranging from national chains to independent hotspots – use Nowait to seat 30 million guests every month and more than 500 million to date. Additionally, the convenience we have been providing our guests soon can be extended to Yelp users, who will be able to “get in line” remotely through Yelp’s mobile app at any of our more than 4,000 casual-dining restaurants nationwide. Also, just like with the Nowait guest app, they will be able to see wait times at local restaurants, as well as communicate with the restaurant in real-time via text.

Screenshot of the Nowait app | Nowait

Screenshot of the Nowait app | Nowait

Foodable:  How does Nowait attract new restaurant partners?

Sykes: Combined with our fantastic sales team, one of the biggest vehicles for attracting new restaurant partners is word-of-mouth. Guests who use the Nowait app, even after the first time, find themselves avoiding restaurants where they need to wait in-person to be seated. Our vocal and loyal guests are using social media to encourage their favorite casual dining restaurants to jump on-board with us. Another scenario for attracting new restaurant partners occurs when restaurant owners or their staff are guests at another restaurant that coincidentally uses Nowait. After they personally experience the huge improvement it makes to their overall dining experience, they go back to work the next day and then call us.

Foodable: What do consumers like so much about Nowait?

Sykes: Nowait is your shortcut to amazing dining experiences. From national chains to local spots, Nowait gives back the most important gift in people’s lives – their time. Especially for last-minute meals or drinks with family, friends, or colleagues, enjoying great local food with loved ones shouldn’t mean you have to wait. Get in line from your phone and wait where you want.

Foodable: What does the future hold for Nowait?

Sykes: Recently, Nowait announced a partnership with Yelp and, soon, their users will be able to enjoy the Nowait experience through the Yelp app -- “getting in line” remotely with their mobile phone. This partnership affords us the opportunity to expand our network exponentially overnight and find a value-added strategic partner who shares our passion for great restaurants and a great guest experience.