Table Turnover Rate: How to Maximize for Your Restaurant

When you have a consistent flow of patrons visiting your restaurant, you can maximize your revenue by improving your table turnover rate.

When you have a consistent flow of patrons visiting your restaurant, you can maximize your revenue by improving your table turnover rate. The table turnover rate is the number of parties occupying tables during a particular period of time such as your breakfast, lunch or dinner window. The higher your rate is, the more guests you are seating. To achieve a high table turnover rate, you’ll want to analyze your restaurant’s patronage and fine-tune your steps of service. First, let’s start with some simple formulas to help calculate your restaurant’s table and seat turnover rate.

Calculating restaurant table turnover rate

To calculate restaurant table turnover time, you’ll want to take a time period that’s busy, like lunch or dinner, and count how many parties are at each table during this time. In this case, a party is an individual ordering and paying for food or drinks. Then, divide the number of parties by the number of tables. This will give you your table turnover rate. 

So, for instance, if 28 parties are served at seven tables, your table rate for the lunch hour is four:

28 parties / 7 tables = 4

The average table turnover rate is 3. This comes to about an hour and a half per party during periods with high traffic.

Table turnover rate vs seat turnover rate

Another metric you’ll want to consider is your seat turnover rate. This is the number of customers you have divided by the number of seats. This can differ from your table turnover rate since you might seat fewer parties at a table than it can hold (for example, a couple sitting at a four-top). This can explain why, even with a high table turnover rate, a night of mostly two-person parties will produce less revenue than other nights.

Table turnaround time

Lastly, you’ll want to analyze your table turnaround time, or how long a party remains at a table. As described above with the table turnover rate, the average is around an hour and a half per party. 

How to maximize your table turnover rate

Now that you’ve got a feel for the metrics, let’s look at some ways to improve your numbers. Ideally, you’ll want a high turnover that doesn’t negatively impact your customers’ experience. While increasing your table turnover rate helps maximize your revenue, customer satisfaction is absolutely crucial. Your guests should never feel rushed or uncomfortable.

Find out how long they’re staying

Getting to know your guests by asking what brings them in isn’t just politeness. It also allows you to gauge how long they’ll be staying. People celebrating a special occasion are going to keep the table for a while, but guests catching dinner before a show will be there a shorter time. You can tailor the service to them, balance your resources (maybe have extra servers on hand for that big table), and adjust your expectations for turnover. 

Suggest quick items

When your restaurant is in a crunch, have the staff recommend items that can be prepared quickly. Don’t dissuade them from ordering what they want, but if the guest is indecisive and wants a recommendation, steer them towards things that will keep things moving. 

Don’t seat incomplete parties

Lots of restaurants won’t seat a party if everyone isn’t there. Incomplete parties slow your turnover rate and can cause problems with your restaurant’s service overall. You might have another group waiting to fill that table, ready to order. 

Don’t make two trips

Make sure your staff is moving as efficiently as possible. Every visit to a table can have a task attached to it, like bringing bread or water, or clearing dishes. 

Prepare any add-ons in advance

Prep work isn’t busywork. It’s a way to make the evening run smoothly. Prepare any possible add-ons in advance. Get the dip ready for an appetizer. Have garnishes ready to go.

Handle lingering guests

You might have to gently get lingering guests to leave. The easiest way to do this is to simply drop off the check. But be careful when timing this: you don’t want to cut them off from any additional purchases they’re considering. If they’ve declined dessert, that’s a safe indication that they’re done and ready for you to present the bill. 

Failing that, don’t be afraid to ask guests to move on. You can do this implicitly by slowly clearing items from the table or explicitly by offering to set them up at the restaurant bar, perhaps with a free drink or dessert. 

Use your technology

Restaurant technology is there to make restaurants run safely and more efficiently, so why not put it to use? A platform like Sixdots allows multiple servers to cash out checks without having to wait in line behind a single main terminal. Its menu options allow guests to quickly make decisions without lingering over paper menus, maybe even before they get there. Having orders in a central platform limits expensive and time-consuming errors. And when things quiet down, you can see how satisfied your customers are. Features like these are perfect for increasing your turnover rate. 


What is restaurant table turnover? 

The restaurant table turnover rate measures how often your tables are busy during a specific period of time.

What is seat turnover rate? 

Seat turnover rate is the number of customers you serve divided by the number of seats. Since a table may have fewer parties than seats (for example, when two people sit at a four-top), your seat turnover rate could be lower than the table turnover rate.

What is table turnaround time? 

Table turnaround time is how long a party remains at a table. 

How do you calculate table turnover rate? 

Table turnover is the number of parties served at a table divided by the number of tables. For example: ten tables with 40 people equals a turnover rate of four.

What is the average restaurant table turnover rate? 

The average table turnover rate is three. 

What is the average table turnover time? 

45 minutes is the ideal average for maximizing revenue and tips. 

How do you increase table turnover?

  • Find out how long people are staying
  • Suggest items that can be prepared quickly
  • Don’t seat incomplete parties
  • Don’t make two trips
  • Prepare your add-ons
  • Ask people to move on
  • Use your technology



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