Here’s the Formula for Your Table Turnover Rate

Restaurant Table Turnover Rate

Posted: Jun. 12, 2018

Not knowing your restaurant’s table turnover rate can have dire consequences. In short, poor turnover can directly affect your profit margins. Ideally, you want to turn tables as often as possible, to generate higher revenues. New restaurateurs might overlook this aspect of their business, and even seasoned places run the risk of ignoring it.

The trick to a successful turnover rate is maintaining a tempo that doesn’t alienate customers. Diners should never feel as if they are not wanted.

How to Calculate Your Existing Table Turnover Rate

If you don’t know how frequently new parties occupy a table, today is the day to find out. Restaurants make profits when as many people as possible are seated throughout the day. Keep in mind that your rate might be different from another restaurant’s.

To measure your current time allotment per table, first select a period of measurement, like breakfast, dinner, or at certain times of the day when you want to increase revenue.  

Then count the number of parties that are served during that time. The full period of allotment starts when the host seats the guest, and it ends when the customers leave the table.  

Divide the number of parties served by the number of tables on the floor. This figure is your turnover rate. You might also want to figure out the rate at which large parties turn over, as they usually require more time to get served.

Once you know your table turnover rate, tally up your sales during that measured period of time to know the most important number: how much money you made. Your final step is to compare the final figure with your costs.

If you’re barely breaking even, start adjusting your rate of table turnover. See how below.

4 Ways to Increase Your Table Turnover Rate

Key factors to consider when deciding how much time to allow per party:

  • Menu prices
  • Fixed costs
  • Number of seats

And most especially, your restaurant style. Are you upscale or casual dining? Casual dining establishments can move at a faster pace than their counterparts. Some of the suggestions below might not fit restaurant cultures that emphasize a slow customer experience or involve time-consuming food preparation.

1. Waiters Must Approach Tables Within One Minute

Train your serving staff to visit a table within one minute of customers being seated. At that time, waitstaff can take drink orders and serve water. This is better than rushing a table to leave at the end of the meal. David Foulquier, owner of Fooq’s Miami Restaurant, explains: “You really want to get food orders within the first eight minutes of them sitting down. [Then,] you know that within 20 minutes, they’ll have appetizers, and within 45 minutes, they’ll have received their main courses.”

In addition to promptly taking orders, servers should be attentive at all times, in case a customer needs something during the meal. Avoid making your diners wait, and you will not have to wait for your diners.

2. Don’t Waste Time

Make these simple yet effective changes to save time:

  • Don’t re-explain the menu to old customers. Just be available for any questions.
  • Assign more than one server to a large party.
  • Also, assign more than one busboy to a large party.
  • Pre-roll napkins, and prepare silverware in advance if possible, to get new tables ready faster.
  • Give a head’s up to your kitchen that a large party has arrived.
  • Notify the front of house once a check has been delivered, so a table can be pre-assigned to a party waiting in line.
  • Don’t forget to notify bussers that a table will soon need cleaning.
  • Pick up plates when they are finished, instead of waiting for everyone to be done. (But be absolutely sure the customer is finished eating!)
  • Always have one busboy on the floor to field small requests, remove plates, and perform other miscellaneous tasks.
  • Drop off the check after dessert, although be careful not to offend diners by being too fast.

These small time-savers can shave 30 minutes or more off a meal. Train your staff in the art of time management, and your table turnover rate will get a dramatic boost.

3. Rearrange Your Floor Plan

Below are three floor plan design techniques that trick the subconscious into eating faster:

  1. Did you know that people take longer to finish a meal when sitting in a booth than in moveable chairs? If you’re having trouble turning over tables, consider replacing booths with regular tables and chairs.
  2. Another change, and less expensive, is to move more tables to the center of the room. This will create a busier feeling to your restaurant, and diners will naturally pick up the pace.
  3. Add fiery colors like reds, oranges, and yellows to your interior design. These colors elevate the heartbeat, making customers eat faster.

4. Use Technology to Your Advantage

One of the best time-savers is charging cards at the table. Between the time the server drops the check and the time the cards are rung and receipts signed, 15 minutes can pass. Diners might be deep in conversation, or the server could get distracted by more immediate requests from other guests. Even the walk back and forth from the register to the table takes time. Eliminate these time-wasters by using new technology to your advantage.

Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) systems like Lavu allow servers to be in control of the time at the end of the meal. Receipts are easily offered by email, and tip amounts can be suggested, saving customers from having to do the math. With an mPOS, the process is fluid and fast. A server can show up at the table, and ask for a card without having to wait to be called over.

Mobile POS systems are wildly effective in reducing time wasted at the end of a meal, allowing the host to seat a new table faster and start generating more revenue.


Once you’ve calculated your current table turnover rate and seen how it compares to your overhead costs, employ these time-saving tactics. Your restaurant can only profit from them.

It’s no secret that profitable restaurants find success with a reliable restaurant POS system.


Posted: Jun. 12, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois

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