Jeremy Julian

Is It Time to Ditch the Pagers and Get a Waitlist App?

May 23, 2018

Guest pagers.

This bit of 80’s technology just doesn’t want to go away. They’re still in use in plenty of restaurants across the country, and it’s easy to see why. They make your waitlist a lot easier to manage. But are they really the best option?


Pros of Restaurant Pagers

  • Reliability: Signal strength is very reliable with pagers, and their charge tends to last up to several days.
  • Psychology: Handing someone a pager makes them feel more accountable to stick around.

Cons of Restaurant Pagers

  • The cost: you’ll have a huge upfront expense to outfit your eatery with a pager system. Not to mention the cost to replace pagers that tend to walk away when guests get tired of waiting or decide to go elsewhere.
  • Maintenance: It’s just one more thing to clean, charge, and potentially repair.
  • Space: Let’s face it, pager stations are an eyesore. And they take up a lot of space! Is this what you want guests to see as soon as they walk into your restaurant?

If Not Pagers, What Else?

If you’re in the restaurant business, you probably have heard from lots of folks that you must have guest pagers if you’re going to be taken seriously. While they’re certainly better than calling out names over an intercom, there are other options available today.

Many restaurateurs are choosing a more up-to-date form of technology to manage their waiting guests. Waitlist apps have taken the industry by storm and with their low buy-in and easy-to-train systems, it’s no wonder. But are they just a passing fad?

Pros of Waitlist Apps

  • More current: When you hand out technology that’s older than many of your patrons, it feels a bit old-school to many diners. And not in a good way.
  • Interactive: A pager really only does one thing. But a Waitlist App can help you inform your guests of daily specials, give them a link to peruse your menu, and point them toward your social media pages.
  • Two-way communication: If a guest has a special request while they’re waiting (add one more to the party, going to need a booster seat, or anything else

Cons of Waitlist Apps

  • Guest privacy: Some guests may not be comfortable giving out their phone number.
  • Reliability: If a guest’s phone dies, their service is spotty, or they’re not paying attention, they might miss your message.

Waitlist App Case Study

Kuma’s Corner, a beloved Chicago-area eatery with a few locations around the Windy City and its suburbs, was having trouble with scalability. They wanted to offer the same fabulous service and delicious food that delighted guests at their original location, but needed a new way of managing guests since their waitlist could be up to 2 hours long on a busy night.

But where does a gourmet burger joint known for macaroni and cheese, heavy metal, and whiskey on tap turn? They ditched the old-school pagers and implemented the NextME waitlist app instead.

In addition to saving $4,000 off the top by not having to buy a paging system each time they open a new location, they’ve seen a hefty improvement. This included a 25% increase in customer retention. And they were able to extend their peak hours by 30-60 minutes too!

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