Running a restaurant requires a lot of juggling. Balancing staff schedules, doing inventory, running payroll, keeping an eye on the P&L, helping customers, coming up with promotions, fixing any equipment issues, keeping the website and social media up to date — it’s one of the busiest jobs out there, but can also be one of the most rewarding. When a customer becomes a regular, when a long time staff member learns a new skill set and steps into a leadership role, when a dish comes out of the kitchen looking better than you could have dreamed of, all the late nights and early mornings and gray hairs feel worth it.
But one task that often falls to the wayside, and has the potential to seriously impact your business, is tending to your restaurant phone line.
Whether the responsibility of answering the phone is given to a manager, a host, the owner, or simply whoever’s closest to the phone when it rings, restaurant phone call management is a lot more important (and time consuming) than it seems. And in this era of extremely short-staffed restaurants, many teams have had no choice but to ignore the phone completely — sending calls straight to voicemail, letting calls go unanswered, etc. — ultimately losing out on potential customers every day.
Not only do customers call ahead to make reservations, but they also call to learn about your business and whether or not it’s the right fit for them. Do you serve on a patio, and if so, is it covered? To what degree are you able to accommodate allergies and dietary restrictions? Do you rent out the space for parties? Can they bring their own birthday cake?
You can try to answer every possible question on your website — it’s good practice to have an FAQ section that does so — but there will always be customers who prefer to get information about your business by calling on the phone. And can you blame them? Unfortunately, everyone’s gotten burned at some point by incorrect or outdated information on a website or on Google, especially as businesses change their hours based on staff availability, holidays, or seasonality without always remembering to update it online.
Here are the top five reasons why customers call restaurants:
And unsurprisingly, customers tend to call restaurants around mealtimes — when your staff is at their busiest.
Our data shows that on weekdays, here’s when customers call most frequently:
On weekends, customers call restaurants most at:
Since those times often coincide with a lunch rush or the beginning of the dinner rush, it’s no wonder that customers are often left waiting a long time for someone to pick up the phone.
Call volume also skyrockets around holidays, with 20% more customers than usual calling to make reservations and find out if your restaurant has the right amenities for a Mother’s Day brunch or New Year’s dinner.
So beyond just assigning the responsibility of answering the phone to whoever’s least busy when a person calls, there’s a lot that a restaurant can do to ensure they’re capturing all the new business they can.
Slang.ai is a customizable phone answering service that’s perfect for busy restaurants. It’s easy to set up — it only takes minutes to get started — and the AI-powered system learns as you use it, getting smarter every day. You can program Slang.ai to answer every common question about your business, and it can send text message responses after each call so the customer has all the information they need.
This way, your hosts, servers, and managers can focus on providing an amazing customer experience around the restaurant uninterrupted by the ringing phone. And all your inquiring customers will get their questions answered in moments, not minutes (or hours) spent waiting for someone to come to the phone. And on the rare occasion that their question is too complex, Slang.ai routes the call to a manager who can help.
Don’t lose out on business just because your team is too slammed to answer the phone. Sign up for Slang.ai and take this task off your team’s plate.