Easy Waitlist Template For Restaurants [FREE]

Posted by

Staff Writer


December 16, 2023

Have you ever had one of those days when you're jotting down names on paper scraps, the phone's ringing off the hook, and impatient customers keep checking the waiting time sign:

''How much longer?''

''I thought we were next!''

''Why can't I sit at that empty table?''

It's a good problem — your food's so great everyone wants in. 😅

But imagine instead of a hot mess, you've got Peace. Calm. Order. You're the cool manager who has everything under control, and so does your front staff. You're professionals, and your customers can tell.

This blog post will help you achieve that. This is an easy waitlist template that you can download and use on the spot to change your game completely.

What's a restaurant waitlist template?

A restaurant waitlist is a simple form for tracking your waiting guests. Some call it a “waitlist form” because it has fields where you fill in relevant information about potential customers who walk in asking for a table:

  • Guest name to personalize the service.
  • Party size, or the number of people, to determine the table size needed.
  • Contact information like the phone number to send wait time updates. You can also write additional information like email addresses for future email marketing campaigns.
  • Check-in time to track how long guests have been waiting.
  • Quoted wait time to manage expectations with estimated wait time signs.
  • Notes to help staff recognize a party easier and remember whatever particular or special needs the guests mention.

A restaurant waitlist template is a pre-designed form that includes the fields you need to fill and instructions for the staff on how to do it correctly.

Using a template is a great way to help your staff learn how to manage the waitlist quickly. You're not just ensuring that everyone consistently collects the same information, but you're also more accurate in the process, avoiding mistakes and misunderstandings.

Download your free wait list template for restaurants

Here's your free waiting list template for restaurants. It's a printable business form template you can download and update on your PC or print and write on with a pen.

Printable free waitlist template
👉 Make a copy of our editable waitlist template here! 👈


How to use your restaurant waitlist template:

Step 1: Download the free template.
Step 2: Customize it by changing the Restaurant Name and Date.
Step 3: Keep it on your computer or print and use it offline.
Step 4: Fill each row with the required information for each party as you add them to the waiting list template.
Step 5: Print a new form once you complete the entire page.

👉 In the "Quoted Wait Time" field, you enter the estimated time you've told the guest they will have to wait. This field can also correspond to a waiting time sign if you have one in your restaurant.

Pair your waitlist template with an estimated wait time sign to manage customer expectations better.  A physical or digital display, chalkboard, or whiteboard can be your waiting time sign. Here’s how you can automatically calculate estimated wait time using TablesReady.

👉 In the “Notes” field, you enter relevant details to help you recognize the party, like what they're wearing, where they'll wait, or any special requests the party has made.

How proper wait list control prevents chaos

Waitlist management done right reduces the chaos and discomfort of long waits for staff and customers. It helps you organize the customer flow and enhance the overall guest experience. Here’s a breakdown of all the benefits:

  1. Prevents overcrowding and reduces stress: The less time you spend taking your customers' details or updating them, the more you'll declutter the entry area, removing the pressure from customers and staff.
  2. Facilitates fair seating: This study shows customers feel strongly about table seating fairness. A waitlist ensures your guests get to sit in the order they arrived, without thinking that others were favored against them.
  3. Improves turnover efficiency: Knowing how many parties are waiting and their sizes helps the staff clear and reset tables more efficiently. The turnover gets smoother, and idle time for tables is minimal.
  4. Enhances customer experience: Customers appreciate transparency. A clear waitlist system and a wait time sign make the wait less stressful and encourage customers to use their wait time in more pleasurable ways.
  5. Optimizes staff workflow: With an organized waitlist, hosts and waitstaff can focus on their immediate tasks without being distracted by manually managing the flow of customers.
  6. Reduces walk-aways: When customers know where they stand in line and see a live waiting time sign, they're less likely to leave and go to another restaurant.
  7. Allows for better resource allocation: Anticipating customer flow from the waitlist helps allocate staff and resources where needed most. It helps your restaurant operate at optimal levels.
  8. Collects valuable data: Over time, the waitlist data reveals patterns in customer arrival and table turnover. You can use this data for staff scheduling, menu changes, and promotions.
  9. Facilitates contactless communication: Digital waitlist systems update customers via text or app notifications, reducing the need for face-to-face communication. The whole process is safer and more convenient.
  10. Helps manage guest expectations: Proper wait list control is perceived as fair by customers. Add an estimated wait time sign to it, and you’ll set realistic expectations, keep guests informed, and reduce their anxiety.
  11. Encourages repeat business: A well-managed waitlist contributes to a positive dining experience, making customers more likely to return and even become regulars.

What’s the best way to manage your restaurant wait list?

Imagine a bustling Saturday night at your restaurant where every table is full, and customers keep coming.

When you manage your waitlist with pen and paper:
It's a whirlwind of scribbling names, scratching out no-shows, and trying to guess hastily written numbers.

Pages are flapping, pens are running dry, and guests keep hovering close by, anxious and asking for updates.

In the thick of it, your staff might misspell a name, misquote a wait time, or worse, cross out the wrong name or skip a name surrounded by cross-outs, causing frustration all around. 😤

When you use a buzzer system along with your notepad:
You’re dealing with people unknowingly going out of range or not hearing their pagers. These clients will return angry that they didn’t get the buzz, demand a table immediately, and put your staff in a very difficult situation.

Sometimes, you’re even left without a customer and with extra expenses, if a waiting guest changes plans, becomes a no-show, and walks away with your pager.

Not to mention, you’ll constantly struggle to keep all buzzers charged and sanitized.


Versus when you use online tools like a digital waitlist app:
You tap a few buttons, and your guests get automatic text updates. They're out enjoying a stroll or a chat away from the door, not crowding the entrance or peering over your shoulder for updates.

Your host, no longer drowning in a sea of paper lists, is greeting customers with a smile, adding names to a list on a screen. It's as easy as sending a text message. No shouting names, no lost reservations.

On your end, you're seeing fewer mistakes, almost no mix-ups, and you're not up to your elbows in paper at the end of the day. You've got a clear record of how the day went and how to plan even better for the next rush.

Restaurant waitlist management systems compared: Pen & paper vs. digital

Skip the headaches with a digital waitlist

When managing waiting customers, anything's more efficient than a notepad. While your downloadable waitlist template might work for tonight’s service, your life could be so much easier with an app.

Embrace the ease of a smart digital waitlist like TablesReady. With just a few taps on your tablet, your guests will be in the loop, your tables will turn like clockwork.

Create a free account with TablesReady, the simplest waitlist management app you'll find online. With a free, 14-day trial account that requires no credit card, you'll start seeing the difference from day one. Your peace of mind is just a click away!

Are buzzers & notepads costing you time, money, and sanity?

Take your waitlist from chaotic to convenient in 5 minutes.

  • ✓ 14-day free trial
  • ✓ Cancel anytime
  • ✓ No credit card required