Help with Wait Times

As production and staff have expanded, especially since the Covid shutdowns, our collective ability to get order wait times right has been suffering. For years, the few of us who ran the place could, on a gut level, get things almost always right with maybe a five-minute variance if we were busier than the norm. This is no longer the case, and we’re hearing about it. I can’t say I blame those at all who are bringing this issue to our attention.

What tips and tricks do you have or use to more accurately project wait times, a wait time formula, as it were?

How does that formula adjust, if it does, to fold in dine-in, phone/lobby takeout, and online ordering?

We’re developing, or further developing, such and would value your input.

My minimum wait time for pickup is always 15 minutes. I adjust up as orders come in.

My minimum wait time for delivery is the pickup wait time + 10 minutes until all the drivers are deployed. Then I add 10 minutes for every unassigned delivery until I have at least 1 driver back in the store.

We have three ways of computing the pickup time.

Method 1: Panic mode, if there are so many tickets that the crew can’t even tear them off the printer and put them on the rail, 55 minutes.

Method 2: Precision, I look at the time when I take an order out of the oven. I look at the time that order was taken. The difference between the two is how long it took to make. I add five minutes to that as buffer and that is the current wait time.

Method 3: Winging it, when I am juggling a lot of guests and don’t have time for Method 2, but things aren’t so crazy that I have to use Method 1, I count the tickets on the rail and multiply by 2 minutes each and then add 5 minutes and that is the wait time. 10 tickets on the rail, wait time is 25 minutes.


We start at 20 p/u and 45 for deliveries. Last night (Friday) we as a Delco had 74 orders placed between 5:00 and 6:00. Wait times went to 35 minutes for a pickup and 65 minutes for a delivery. We adjust the POS system as needed and continuously tell the front counter to up times. Just be honest with your customers and you should be fine. We are using an EDGE 60WB for production. 3 Pizza makers 2 oven attendants a fryer and a hoagie/salad maker 3 phone/counter employees and lastly 5/6 drivers.

When answering the phone when the customer says pick up we immediately tell the time “We are currently running at 35 minutes out of the oven. Is that okay?” Saves us from doing any unnecessary work.

If your feeling bad throw out a free 2-liter or maybe a free premade dessert


These are helpful replies and the kind of feedback I am interested in. Thanks. More?

At my stores (I have 2), we always lead the phone or walk in with “expected wait times”.

“At this time your pick up time is 6:05-6:10pm” for example.
Be specific, if you say 30 min they will show up in 15.

Always be honest and straightforward, don’t over promise.
Believe in your store and product, and people will understand.

The time is all relative, as on weekends we have had people say “1 hour is fine, we understand” or on pick ups “That is perfect for the time we wanted”

People generally will work with you as long as they feel they are being told the truth.

That being said, I always try to go above and beyond what they expect.
We are late on a pick up, I offer a dessert or 2 liters as previously said.
Customer might say “no, no…no issue” but I do it anyway.

Basically, under promise and over deliver.

Now I rambling, but I hope some of that makes sense.

overestimate by 5 minutes. We use standard times of 20 min for pickup & 45min for delivery most times. We use KDS with our POS so I am able to quickly see how many orders we have and more specifically how many pizzas we have in our queue so I can up times based on this number. Although our POS has automated promise times based on this info I find that the algorithm is not accurate unfortunately. I can manually edit the promise times and my phone girls see it in real time and it also flows to online ordering