Toby Carvery Restaurants
This restaurant guest experience case study describes a programme of research into the guest experience at 3 Toby Carvery restaurants to uncover opportunities to improve guest satisfaction whilst increasing the number of meals served during peak times on Sundays
Toby Carvery restaurants is the “Home of the Great British Roast” owned and operated by Mitchells and Butlers. They offer great value all-day carveries and it’s no surprise that Sundays is their most popular day. The brand has been in operation for over 30 years and now has a chain of over 150 restaurants throughout the UK from Perth in Scotland to the south of England. Toby Carvery restaurants were originally designed in the style of traditional English pubs, however in recent years they have started to build new restaurants where the image is more modern and are opening restaurants on high streets as well as in shopping centres.
With such popularity and growth, how would you feel as a restaurant owner if on arrival you were greeted with a queue out of the door. Then how would you feel if you looked around and saw quite a few empty tables and places. What if there were customers desperately trying to cash up, whilst disgruntled customers were getting into their cars and driving away without dining. You would probably feel that you were not making the most out of your popularity and growing estate – and you would be right! Recognising the symptoms of waste is a great starting point. However how do you solve these problems? How do you monetize any improvements? And what would your customers feel about any changes that are made?
Dave Davies, then marketing director, was in this position when he approached us about studying three of his Toby Carvery restaurants on Sundays, their busiest day. He wanted us to find a solution, which would maximise throughput during peak times, whilst maintaining a great dining experience for everyone.
This assignment was perfect for our team. Not only would it suit our field based tools and techniques, we all loved Sunday roasts! Working alongside our client we counted, tracked and observed all the customers who visited the restaurants on Sundays, identifying the different types of dinners and the paths they would take. We identified physical pinch-points caused by the layout, service behaviours and staffing levels. We also gathered data on table and place setting utilisation, which is where there was greatest opportunity for increasing the number of meals served. We talked to lots of diners to understand how they felt about their experience and most importantly waiting times.
After hours of data collection and analysis (and quite a few Sunday roasts), we found some solutions to their problems. Firstly, there were different customers with different expectations on waiting times, yet the process was linear. Some customers had a very low threshold, preferring to be seated immediately. Others wanted a drink at the bar, but would become frustrated if they waited longer than 20 minutes. There were also large groups who met at the restaurant and arrived at differing times. Better planning and management of these different customer journeys at peak times, would not only free up capacity but would increase customer satisfaction and reduce walk-aways by up to 4%. In addition, if the restaurant optimised the flow of guests from the bar to the restaurant by improving communication and thought carefully about matching the right group size to the right table, they could increase meals on the table by a further 20%, whilst increasing the productivity and morale of staff.
We identified changes that had potential value to the brand of £5.1M in sales, as well as making significant improvements to guest satisfaction and staff productivity.
AT A GLANCE:
- Conducted a study of the guest experience at three Toby Carvery restaurants at peak times i.e. Sundays
- Counted, tracked and observed all customers arriving on Sundays
- Identified the different types of diners and paths they would take
- Gathered robust data on table and place setting utilisation
- Identified physical pinch-points caused by layout, service behaviours and staffing levels
- Decoded new journeys based on waiting time expectations i.e. refuellers (no waiting time), loungers (20-minute waiting time), large groups / bookings
- Recommended a guest flow management solution – designed to optimise the flow of guests from the bar to the restaurant at peak times
- Opportunities to increase sales by £5.1M / annum by increasing table utilisation and capacity – optimising the flow from bar to restaurant and managing journeys based on waiting time expectations
- Significant opportunities to improve guest satisfaction, staff productivity and morale