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9 Reasons Cell Phone Paging Systems are Better than Restaurant Pagers
By Luke Panza

It's no secret that restaurant paging systems are expensive and annoying. Not only do pager systems cost restaurants thousands of dollars, but they also limit a customer's wait time options. Thanks to new text message notification technology, many restaurants are switching to this more tech-savvy and innovative way to manage their wait list. We outline 9 reasons why using text alerts sent directly to a customer's phone is much more beneficial to restaurants than sticking with restaurant pagers.

1. Improve Organization and Impress Customers Using a text message notification system eliminates the use of a waitlist on paper. There is no more passing multiple sheets around and deciphering sloppy handwriting. Also, customers will be impressed by the use of an iPad to stay organized. This impression will further be enforced by the text message notification.

2. Save Money Restaurants can save money by switching to cell phone notification technology. They no longer have to invest in expensive pager equipment, which may cost anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000. It is not uncommon for restaurant pagers to "grow legs" and disappear from the restaurant. People will sometimes leave with them or lose them by accident, or maybe even steal them. Costs generated from pager loss at restaurants that switch to a text message notification system decrease by 100% you can't lose pagers if you don't have them!

3. Keep Restaurants Sanitary Making the switch to cell phone notification is also a very good move to help restaurants improve their health safety. Many pagers are not cleaned before they are passed on to the next customers. Who knows what germs lurk on them. Eliminating restaurant pagers decreases the spread of germs.

4. Retain Customers by Giving Them Freedom By texting customers' cell phones instead of buzzing an old-fashioned pager, restaurants allow customers to step outside the designated radius around the host stand that typically comes along with a standard restaurant pager system. This can actually retain customers. With more freedom, customers are often more willing to go through a long wait if they are able to go somewhere else, such as a nearby shop.

5. Open Up the Waiting Area Since text message notification systems allow customers to leave the establishment while they wait, a restaurant's waiting area will open up, even if there is an extensive wait list. This will not only decrease confusion, but will give other customers the impression that the restaurant is approachable. Potential customers may not even go into a restaurant if the waiting area looks full. Opening up the waiting area will at least get those wary customers into the establishment.

6. Create a Two-Way Dialogue with Customers Restaurant pagers only serve the immediate purpose of letting customers know when their table is ready. By switching to cell phone notification, restaurants can establish a two-way dialogue with customers while they wait. If customers go elsewhere while they wait for a table, they can send an update to the restaurant letting them know how soon they plan on returning.

7. Build Wait List Statistics As mentioned before, restaurant pagers only have one purpose, and that is to tell a customer when their table is ready. They cannot receive any sort of information about the customer. Because text notification operates on a cloud-based system, a restaurant can gather important statistical information about what customers are responding to communications. Notification systems provide restaurants with statistics from the day, such as how many parties were seated, what the average wait time was, and how many walk-in customers there were as opposed to reservations.

8. Manage Waitlist from Multiple Locations Old fashioned waitlists are typically done with pen and paper, making it available to be seen only at the host stand. A cell phone notification system can be managed with an iPhone or iPad. This allows anyone with the device to look at and manage the waitlist, sync real-time updates regarding waiting customers and how long they've been waiting, and is a great way for managers to keep track of the waitlist without having to be at the host stand.

9. Build a Marketing Database Restaurants can use cell phone interaction to keep in touch with customers even after they leave establishment. Restaurants are able to use mobile marketing to thank customers for visiting, send information about new promotions, or offer coupons and discounts. This will ensure that customers remember the restaurant even after they leave, and increase the likelihood that they return.

Cell phone systems cost much less and are far more beneficial to restaurants than a typical old-fashioned paging system. Not only will a text-message notification keep customers happier, but it will also provide a restaurant with important information regarding their wait-time. In the end, everyone wins with the use of a cell phone-paging system.

Luke Panza is the Director of Business Development of NoWait, the OpenTable for Casual Dining. Restaurants use the NoWait iPad App to replace pagers, using text messaging to manage their wait list, engage customers, and build powerful analytics to improve the customer waiting experience. Luke can be reached at 800-705-1213 x 101 or

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