Photo by Jean-louis Zimmermann (Flickr)

Photo by Jean-louis Zimmermann (Flickr)

Maybe this just happens to me, but whenever I go to a restaurant and have to wait for a table, I’m always told the wait time will be 15 – 20 minutes.  It doesn’t seem to matter if there are dozens of people who are ahead of me, or whether I’m first on the list.

“Table for two,” I’ll say.

“15 – 20 minutes,” they’ll say. Every. Single. Time.

Here’s the other thing that happens: it’s almost never 15 – 20 minutes. On a rare occasion I’ll go and sit down to wait my turn, and 30 seconds later the host will say, “Your table’s ready.” Mostly, though, I’m stuck waiting for 30 – 45 minutes, which is an amount of time I’d prefer not to wait. I tend to think that “15 – 20 minutes” is just something they say, reflexively, regardless of reality. It doesn’t seem like that long to wait, but it’s enough of a time investment that by the time 20 minutes has elapsed I’m not going anywhere. “We’re already past the deadline,” I’ll think, “so a table’s bound to pop up any second now.” And every minute I wait is another increment of time that I can’t get back and will have been wasted if I get up and go elsewhere. The other possibility is that it’s hard to predict when some people will get up. The host might know that there are 5 occupied tables that are just waiting to get their check, and it’s reasonable to expect that those parties are going to get up and go fairly soon. But some people like to linger over their table, sip their after dinner coffee or tea, or finish their conversations. Some people don’t know or care that I’m hungry, and that when I’m hungry I get cranky, and that when I’m cranky I hold on to the pain of the moment until it erupts in a post about dining room management for an Australian software blog.

Ahem.

The point being that it can often be a crap shoot when estimating the time when a table will be free, and there are tools within Kounta that allow you to shoot a heck of a lot less crap. Specifically, I’m talking about a free add-on Kounta made for this exact kind of table tracking. It’s called, ingeniously enough, “Tables.” That’s not sarcasm, by the way: the most ingenious things are often the simplest, and Tables is ingeniously simple to use.

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Using an intuitive drag and drop engine, you can re-create your dining room layout as a handy two-dimensional blueprint. Two seats, four seats, six seats, booths, round tables, square tables, anything: you define each table, you sit customers at the table, you mark it as occupied and note the number of guests. Got four guests waiting to sit and a couple of two-seaters available? Push them together—in real life and on the screen—in seconds.  If you haven’t bolted your tables down in real life, there’s no reason you should be locked into a single layout on the POS, and Kounta Tables makes it easy to do this. You’ll have a quick, at-a-glance rundown of what’s going on in your dining room, and it doesn’t end at just knowing what’s occupied and what’s available.

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Besides this, Tables allows you to:

  • Pair a table with the food order that its occupants placed.
  • Color code each table to reflect its status. A green table means people are sitting there, and they’ve placed their order. A red table is idle, meaning they haven’t ordered or been interacted with in over 20 minutes. Dark blue means it’s occupied but they haven’t ordered yet, and light blue means the table is empty. An amber status indicates they’ve been given their bill but haven’t paid yet—a nice indication that the table will be free soon. Say, in about 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Track time and amount spent per customer, helpful for reporting as well as monitoring employee performance. If you’ve got a bunch of tables all being served by the same person, and the guests tend to sit for longer than average while spending less than average, chances are that waiter isn’t doing his job well.
  • View your active tables as a list to get some relevant stats for each one. The color coding carries into the list view, while allowing you to see exactly how much time they’ve been sitting there, how much their tab is, when the last time they’ve been interacted with was, and who the server is.
  • Split bills among the occupants of the table, a great feature for Tinder dates that aren’t going well.
  • Merge the bill with another table, even if you haven’t merged the actual tables—which is ideal for parents who want to be as far away from their children as possible. Which is all parents, let’s be honest.

For you visual learners out there, check out this video showing Tables in action. You’ll get an idea of what it looks like, how easy it is to use, and how much simpler managing all the stages of each order can be.