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The country is starting to reopen, but things aren’t going back to “normal” anytime soon.  Adaptation is the name of the game and implementing a floating service model maintains a top level of hospitality while keeping staff and guests safe.

As states and municipalities reopen their economies, many regulations remain in place for the safety of employees and patrons.  There are restrictions on party sizes, table spacing, mask-wearing, and more*.  Many of these restrictions are forcing businesses to change their service models—but where do you begin? In this article, we make an argument for floating service as the ideal solution to cope with these new realities. 

*Check out your local jurisdiction to get details relevant for your business.

What is floating service?

To understand Floating Service, let’s look at the other two most common service models: Counter and Table Service.

Most taprooms and smaller craft establishments utilize Counter Service: guests approach the bar, counter, or window to place their order and receive their items with a limited number of staff required to help them.  Bartenders rarely come to the table to take orders. With Covid-prevention a top priority, counter service is no longer a safe option. It encourages crowding and unsafe closeness among patrons and frequent movement through your space.  In general, it’s difficult to enforce social distancing and cleanliness standards, especially indoors, with a counter service model.   

The other prevailing service model is Table Service, in which a host seats the guest, a server takes orders tableside, a runner delivers orders to the table, and a busser clears the table—a full service operation. Utilizing table service is a great solution right now, as it limits guests’ movement and makes it easier to keep them and your staff safe. However, staffing a table service model can be more costly than many craft establishments can afford, especially if they’re accustomed to utilizing counter service. 

Floating Service is the happy medium between Counter and Table.  In a floating service model, your staff is empowered to flex through different roles—from bar to floor. Guests are seated at tables and staff come to them (much like in table service) which minimizes movement and interaction throughout the taproom.  Floating service could also allow a floating server to seat guests at tables they’ve ensured are cleared and clean, while a bartender pours orders behind the bar and the floating server runs the drinks.  However you decide to consolidate roles, the key is that you’re minimizing movement and congregation while keeping service costs low. Without deploying the entire staff, a taproom could run seamlessly with this semi-table service or Floating Service model. 

There are a multitude of ways floating service can be implemented.  For very small establishments, floating service could be possible with just one employee.  Or you could utilize two employees: one behind the bar, another floating on the floor, working in conjunction but staying in their own zones. For larger establishments, try consolidating staff, making a group of server-bussers and bartender-runners.  Your server-bussers roam the floor taking orders on Arryved Service and clearing tables, while bartender-runners focus on pouring and delivering drinks. Guests’ minds will be blown when their drinks arrive while the server-busser is still at the table! This is just one possible solution to utilize floating service in a larger business.  

Why floating service?

It’s obvious that the experience of going out and enjoying our favorite craft beverages is going to be different for a while, and will possibly change permanently. Necessary precautions protect the health and safety of staff and guests—and transitioning to a floating service model ensures they’ll still have the craft experiences they love.  

Floating service creates a great opportunity to continue creating connections with your guests despite the restrictions in place.  Talking tableside connects a server and their guest in a special way, as the guests feel specifically catered to in a way they might not if they just walk up to the bar to get their beverages.  The conversation that happens in a tableside context helps servers get to know their guests, which then creates authentic touchpoints for upselling. When guests share their favorite style of beer or their preferred cocktail, servers can use that knowledge to better suggest options and add on elements to the experience, like tasters of the newest beverage on tap. Tableside conversation also gives servers the opportunity to educate their guests: about the brewing process, the history of a particular dish or drink, or the story of your business. The personal touch enhances the hospitality experience and generates “contagious loyalists”: guests who will return again and again, and spread the word of your hospitality greatness among their friends and family. 

Floating service also gives staff a great opportunity to talk about loyalty and engagement programs, like Arryved Insider. Servers can build lasting connections by encouraging guests to become an insider and earn rewards for their valued patronage.  The next time that guest decides to venture out, they’ll have a specific reason to visit you!

“Float like a butterfly”

With Arryved, implementing a floating service model is simple.  In fact, we designed Arryved Service—our mobile Point of Sale software—with this service model in mind.  Tabs can be accessed and managed from any device, allowing guests to order, pay, and receive service from any available staff member. 

The flexibility of Arryved’s hardware offerings makes the transition from counter to floating service easy and seamless.  “Stationary” tablets can easily be made mobile by swapping out a stand for a carrying case. Each floating server, if there are multiple, can have their own device so nothing is shared among staff.

We also offer two methods of contactless payment: Arryved Online and Arryved Mobile.  

Arryved Online is a fully-integrated e-commerce solution.  Once seated, guests can access your online store from any browser to view your menu, order, and pay right from their own device.  Then their floating server can bring the order directly to their table and the guests will do minimal milling about in the space.  

Arryved Mobile is a crazy simple mobile app that allows guests to start a tab once they arrive at your taproom.  Their server can access and add orders to the tab via Arryved Service.  At the end of their stay, your guest will pay out via the Arryved app and be on their merry way.

Flexing your service model may impact how you distribute tips.  Arryved Portal—your backend management system—has several tip tools and reports that can be used to distribute tips in the way that works best for your staff. 

Amidst the overwhelming changes happening every day, we recognize that flexing your service model might feel intimidating. That’s totally okay! But ultimately, we see customers thriving with a floating service model: it will grow your business, empower your staff, and enhance your guest experience.  And it highlights the hospitality that the craft industry is all about!