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Taking a deposit for a reservation means that, as a guarantee, the customer will show up – or that the fee will cover the costs of last-minute cancellation. However, not all restaurants require an advance deposit, because they are usually afraid to annoy or frighten off customers. You can manage payments easily by setting up a deposit with TableIn, but before doing so, we suggest you to weigh the pros and cons of asking your clients for deposit.

The Pros:

Reducing No-Shows. No-shows are an age-old problem for every restaurant. Some restaurants handle this problem quite easily, while others suffer losses. Many customers don’t realize how harmful a no-show could be, especially for small restaurants that only have a few tables. Asking for a deposit can reduce your no-show rate. The prospect of losing money focuses clients on making sure they turn up, or will at least encourage them to think twice before canceling the booking.

A Secure Way of Protecting Restaurant Revenue.

Some restaurants store customer card details, even if they don’t show up. However, the practice shows there is no way of knowing if these numbers will still be available on the reservation day. Also, many restaurants use these numbers just to threaten customers, but fail to charge no-shows, because they are afraid to annoy them. Clients who receive a surprise fee can turn hostile, leave bad reviews, or share their experience, which means losing out on multiple potential sales. Asking for a deposit is a much more secure payment method, as you receive the deposit directly into the restaurant’s account with the customer’s consent.

Charge Group Bookings. A no-show of large groups could be damaging for any restaurant. For example, if the restaurant gets a reservation for a 15-20-person party, they have to prepare for it – scheduling an appropriate amount of staff in the kitchen, paying for chefs, buying more food, and so on. Commonly, it is impossible to seat all the tables if you get a cancelation one or two hours before. Asking for a deposit upfront means greater security for your restaurant, ensuring the large group is more likely to show up, or at least covering a portion of your losses should they not.

Using Deposits for Special Events. The number of reservations increases greatly during special events, busy nights, or parties. Also, during these occasions, customers tend to spend more, so every no-show can be a great loss. It is necessary to ask for a deposit, because more customers are appealing to the same table.

It’s Simple to Take Reservations with Tablein. When you need to ask for a deposit, it is additional work for the team during a busy time, because they have to write a money receipt, while also refilling information for the right date and customer. However, it is a simple and easy process using online reservation systems such as Tablein. Clients do not have to come into the restaurant early, because they can pay instantly via the Internet from home. When reserving the table, all payments are directed to restaurant’s bank account. If a client does not pay a deposit within 24 hours, the reservation is canceled automatically.

The Cons:

Reducing the Number of Customers. Deposit fees may drive away some customers, as they don‘t want to pay in advance, or are not sure about their reservation and may choose another restaurant which doesn’t ask for a deposit. However, these clients tend to be no-shows.

More Walk-Ins Than Reservations. If the restaurant is in a special location, they may have more walk-ins and can easily refill their seats with customers from the street. Because of this, requiring a deposit is likely to lead to NO reservations.

The Restaurant Does Not Have a Strong Policy. If a restaurant has fees, they should always be upfront about the policies and procedures surrounding any charges; for example, how many days of cancellation deposit will be refundable. There is always a risk that someone has good excuses, even if you were the victim, so it is important to prepare for all these events.

There is no right or wrong answer. Although we found more pros for requesting a deposit, it all depends on the type of restaurant you own, the size of the dining room, the restaurant’s location, and sometimes the customers’ culture. One thing is clear: Taking a deposit via an online reservation system is comfortable for clients and saves the team some work.

If you’re in the restaurant trade then you undoubtedly have a core of loyal customers:

The couple who have eaten with you every Saturday night for years; the family who mark every special occasion with a meal in your restaurant, or the group of friends who use your premises as their regular meeting place.

These people are the bedrock of your business. So, you need to do all you possibly can to look after them and make sure they keep eating with you for many years to come.

If you use an online booking app then you will already have the email addresses of these special customers, which gives you the ability to stay in touch and cultivate this very important relationship.

Here’s our four top tips on how to make your most loyal customers feel extra special: 

Be personal

You know these people – you know their names, their eating habits and their routines. So, you should use this information in your messages to make it clear that you value the relationship they have with you. For example, if a couple who regularly eat in your restaurant always spend a lot on wine, invite them to come and try some new wines you’re offering. Or, if you have customers who always have cheese for dessert, invite them to a cheese-tasting event. 

This type of message shows you take an interest in your customers and are aware of what they like.   

Plan a special meal 

Send out an email inviting all your loyal customers to a lunch or dinner that’s just for them. Make it special in some way – either by offering a healthy discount or by giving them a first try of something new, such as your latest seasonal menu.

Remember special occasions

As you get to know your most loyal customers, you also get to know the special days in their lives – birthdays, anniversaries etc. So, send out an email to wish them well on these days and offer them something – like a free bottle of wine – the next time they visit.

Ask for recommendations

Your loyal customers are loyal because they love your restaurant, your food and your service. That means they are highly likely to recommend you to others, so why not say thank you to them for doing this. Send out an email that rewards them for their loyalty, by saying you will give them something – a free bottle of wine or a discounted meal, for example – in reward for anyone who eats with you as a result of their recommendation.

We hope these tips have helped you. And – if you’d like to find out how an online boking app can help you build a relationship with your best customers – you can try Tablein for nothing. Just fill in the short and simple form below to start your 14 day free, no-obligation trial.

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