We live in a fast-paced world.


Many consumers today don’t want to just browse in-store or wait around to be served. They’re often looking to get in, get out, and move on with their busy day.

As result, efficiency has never been more crucial to a successful restaurant operation. Keep the customer waiting, and just like that, you could end up with a bad review.

Negative reviews are not the death knell to a restaurant, assuming you’re also getting positive reviews. But you don’t want to accumulate too many bad reviews before you take a hint and make changes.

Here’s why making your customer wait is a bad idea.

It’s Often The First Thing Customers Complain About

Study bad restaurant reviews online, and you’ll see that one of the first things people tend to complain about is the long wait time they had to endure.

“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. But it’s not hard to see how things tend to spiral downwards for the customer from there.

A long wait can instantly put your customers in a bad mood. So, even after they’ve been seated, treated well, and got their food in a timely fashion, they may not be in the headspace necessary to appreciate it. On an occasion where the food doesn’t even live up to their expectations? Forget about it – you’ve lost them.

Your staff may have done well in every other regard, but if they kept guests waiting, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a bad review.

It Sets A Bad Tone For The Rest Of Their Visit

As we’ve already seen, keeping your guests waiting can set a bad tone for the rest of their visit.

Some customers will wait for an incredible meal, assuming they know that’s what they’re going to be getting. But what if on the other end of that wait is nothing but a salty, greasy chicken dish? If the wait didn’t push them over the edge, the food probably did.

If there’s going to be a wait, you must let your guests know how long it will be. You should also provide them with something else to do while they’re waiting, if possible. Manage expectations best to your ability. Try not to let a bad night get worse.

Assuming you’ve done your part to let customers know how long the wait will be, or if you’ve suggested alternatives (such as making a reservation or visiting local stores while they wait), the wait should not factor too heavily into their review.

It Can Create A Negative Reputation

In business, it’s important to under-promise and overdeliver. This gives you the opportunity to delight those you’re serving. The opposite is problematic, which is overpromising and underdelivering.

Some restaurants truly are busy and for good reason. If this describes you, then this may not apply. But if you are inefficient and incompetent, you’re going to give your customers a reason to complain about you.

If tables need to be cleared off, do it quickly. If the food needs improving, perhaps consider limiting menu items, working with another chef, or rethinking your dish selection. Identify problem areas and begin to address them.

A bad experience from start to finish will leave the customer no room to say anything positive about you. Efficiency, customer service, and quality food are prerequisites to building a positive reputation.


If possible, don’t keep your customers waiting.

In some situations, it’s inevitable. When you find yourself unable to accommodate, do your best to manage expectations and let your guests know how long the wait time will be. Give them something to do while they wait. Reduce your negative reviews connected to wait time.