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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.

Every restaurant is concerned about earning more. There are a number of ways to save money or increase revenues by better coordinating a restaurant’s kitchen work, having good deals with food suppliers, or by taking up a strong marketing strategy. However, there are some techniques for maximizing a restaurant’s revenues by 50% – in the easiest way!

Create an Opportunity to Book Online
Most people prefer to take the easy route, so a contemporary restaurant should provide an opportunity to book tables via an online reservation, at any time within 24 hours. The restaurant app should be user-friendly and comfortable, allowing users to make reservations even when the restaurant is closed. During early morning, afternoon, or in the middle of the night, the restaurant’s website and social networks should work to increase the restaurant’s bookings. By using Tablein reservation software, you can integrate your widget on Facebook, Twitter, or other channels with just a few clicks.

Set the Average Time Intervals for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner

You can start calculating time intervals; estimate how long taking an order requires, the time needed to prepare the meal in the kitchen, and the average time it takes for your customers to finish their meals. In doing so, you can better manage your resources and reservations. It helps to arrange special time templates for the day. For example, at lunchtime, your customer spends about 45 minutes eating, but at dinner time, they spend more than an hour and 30 minutes.

Use Special Templates

All restaurants have their most popular times in a day. For example, most clients want to visit you at 7 pm, so you mostly have one or, at maximum, one and a half turns per evening. Also, lunch service at a restaurant runs from 1 pm to 3:30 pm, so you may have one or two reservations per table at the maximum, if you accept bookings every hour. In these cases, time gaps are formed and tables are standing empty.

By using so-called time templates, you can schedule reservation times to obtain double turns. When adding these templates, you can book tables cleverly to get more covers and allow clients to reserve at more flexible times, like at 6:15, 6:30, and 6:45 pm – not just 6 pm and 7 pm. This can double your restaurant’s coverage at busy times. Finally, the kitchen load is decreased, as clients come at split times, and there’s no need for extra staff at busy times. Though this can be achieved by paper and pen reservations, it is easiest to increase reservations by using an online reservation system, such as Tablein.

Control All the Tables in the Room

If you use an online reservation system, you can control the all tables in a visual restaurant floor plan. The reservations are assigned to the tables automatically, so it is easy to control all online reservations, as well as walk-ins as extra reservations. In that way, you can avoid human mistakes and see all the possible gaps between your bookings.

Have a Clear Protocol

The customer shouldn‘t feel pressured or limited in their dining experience. It is, therefore, important to have a policy established in the event a customer wishes to stay longer at their table. So, you must clarify the booking time interval in a confirmation email and have an alternate table open which has been vacated earlier than expected.

Fill Slow Hours Efficiently

Also, you can double reservations during slow hours. To fill more tables, you can start sending special offers and some freebies for clients who come in at low times. It is easy to set up and schedule on Tablein, in their Offers tab. Using an online reservation system, you can propose free dessert and coffee for other orders, adding this information into an online widget, as well as in emails and social media channels. Of course, you should experiment with different days and proposals, such as discounts, extra options, or price differences, so as to find your own key to sales.

The Restaurant:

The small restaurant in question is owned by Tom, a chef of European cuisine. Tom’s restaurant is located in the vibrant city center and has many returning clients.

The Problem:

Despite its success, the restaurant was losing money in the reservation stage, as its team experienced reservation scheduling problems, no-shows, or a big mess in their pen and paper books. Yes, the team had been working from a paper-book log for a long time, but during busy hours, it was so uncomfortable and inefficient.

“Each week, we had over 80 phone calls and e-mails with booking requests. It was joyful until we understood that we lost many reservations when we were busy answering or when the restaurant was closed. We were closed on Mondays, and nobody could take phone bookings, so clients were emailing us on these days, increasing our manual labor even more. Also, we had a big mess on paper, especially when clients changed booking dates several times or when contact details were taken in a hurry “

Tom and his team were also unable to capture customer data. The staff lacked the time to rewrite contacts into an electronic version, and in most cases, they didn’t even write email addresses in their paper books.

“When we had only phone bookings, very few clients left us their emails or asked to be informed about news. Facebook was also not a solution, as posts were not seen by all who “liked” them. We were not using any email marketing apps and we had a very small client database.”

Tom, though a very good chef, wasn’t savvy about computer technology, so he was faced with another big problem: All online reservation systems were complicated and burdened with too many features. So, he needed a simple and easy to use booking system.

The Solution:

Tom began to searching and comparing online reservation systems. Most solutions were too expensive, difficult to learn and use, or overloaded with unnecessary functions. Many of them required the hiring of a host to manage reservations.
“After some research, finally, we found Tablein – a simple, practical online booking system for us, which could save a great deal of time and money. With customer service help, we set up all our settings in less than 15 minutes. We had only functions which are essential for our clients and us. It saved us 1,800 Euros a year, just for a subscription. The team and I quickly comprehended the system functions, so we didn’t need additional training.”

Tom added an online widget to his restaurant website and Facebook, started to promote online reservations, and asked people to book online in every single message – be it on Facebook, via their newsletter, or even by phone.

The Result:

Since changing from paper books to an online reservation system, Tom and his team’s customer service and reservation management has improved. Now he gets 63% (on average) online bookings. In addition to this, Tom even receives two extremely important benefits when clients book online: He grows his client email database, and gains reviews from his clients. All of this is done automatically.

“We have many more reservations and a better structure in managing our service. Everyone on our team can access Tablein, so now we are much smarter in our staffing levels, as well as planning ahead. We can count in advance how many people will visit our restaurant, and then decide how much food and staff we will need. Also, we get reservations even when the restaurant is closed.”

So, Tom agrees that a manual system is not efficient enough for a modern and contemporary restaurant – especially not one which is prepared to save time and money, and of course, be comfortable for its clients.

Tips for Beginning to Use an Online Reservation System:

– Sign up for an account or try a free account.
– Configure your tables. Create and set up your dining rooms or restaurants areas.
– Integrate the widget on your website.
– Add a link and button in all your channels; Facebook, email, newsletters, or external portals.
– Add a clear booking policy on your website; how long you keep bookings, the dress code, length of stay, etc.
– Add a CTA (Call-to-Action) in every message you deliver to your clients, so they book online. Just remind them and they will get used to it.
– Input future bookings from your pen and paper diary.
– Implement advanced training to ensure staff and management knows how the system works.
– Enjoy using the online reservation system Tablein!

It’s rare for a restaurant to have no trouble keeping up in the market, where the competition is so intense. Caring for customers has never been so important, especially for small restaurants that rely mainly on loyal repeat-clients. Every lost customer can be calculated into the restaurant’s losses. Some deciding factors in if a customer returns or if a new customer tries your business can vary, but it’s widely agreed: ease and convenience are important. If a potential customer could not get in contact with your administration, or if they forget about their reservation – this is a loss to you. After 20 or 30 similar cases, the loss can impact the restaurant owner’s salary. So, how can you use simple math to boost revenues by using an online reservation system?

Let’s rely on the true story of one Italian food trattoria “Piccola Italia”, a 12-table restaurant, which has a great chef, cozy Italian interior, and is conveniently placed in the city center. The small restaurant was popular among local businessmen and Italian food fans. Despite its growing success, it experienced many empty time slots and problems related with customer attraction. That is, until it started to use an online reservation system.

The restaurant owner, Alan, sought to find new information on how to attract more customers. He understood that the restaurant should be more desirable for the busy locals, as well as tourists from other cities and countries. An online booking system might be an answer, so Alan decided to try Tablein – an online reservation system designed specifically for small restaurants. 

This 12-table restaurant is now filled more efficiently and, as a result, earns more. How much?  Here are the simple calculations of this trattoria:

No-Show Customers Convert Into Losses

The first big problem this restaurant faced was “no-show clients.” As this was a routine issue, the calculations are simple: If there are 10 no-shows a day, and the average value of each missed table is 20-50 euros, this costs the restaurant 4,800-12,000 euros a month in lost revenue. That is an extreme amount for a small restaurant! Integrating the Tablein reservation system helped them to save a part of these losses.

Using an online reservation system, now the restaurant can send emails and text messages to clients with links to cancel or change a booking. Also, Alan explains that his restaurant sends an SMS to those who did not arrive with a shameful text. Asking for deposits from clients during holidays or events resulted in a further decrease of no-shows. Overall, the restaurant decreased their no-shows by 23%, which is converted into approximately 2,500 euros per month in revenue. 

Maximize Your Space During Lunch and Dinner Times  

Everyone who manages restaurant reservations knows that most of the clients want to come at 19.00 o’clock, so the restaurant mostly has 1 or a maximum of 1.5 turns per evening. A small kitchen has a huge load when most of their clients arrive at once and orders begin to flow.  While using paper books, you accept most bookings in an advance of one hour, so you form a lot of time gaps – resulting in empty tables. A digital reservation system lets you use time templates and then schedule reservation times to get 2 and 2.5 turns per evening. 

So, Alan’s restaurant capacity at busy times increased by about 50%. Getting rid of gaps saved about 20 covers per day, meaning about 400-800 euros a day. Finally, the kitchen load decreased, as clients came at split times thanks to a better scheduling system. It was no need for extra staff at busy times. 

Save Time and Money in Administration

In our example, the small Italian trattoria, they would receive a large amount of phone calls and e-mails with booking requests during the week. It is joyful news – until you understand that you will lose many reservations when the staff is busy answering calls or emails, or when they’re unavailable because the restaurant is closed.  

After beginning to use a restaurant booking system, the “Piccola Italia” added an online widget to Facebook, as well as their website, and started to promote online reservations, asking people to book online in every single message. Now the restaurant has approximately 63% of their bookings online. The greatest benefit is the restaurant no longer needs to keep administrators, because the waiting staff is fully responsible for the bookings. Everyone can book. Everyone can check in from any location, even when the business is closed. The restaurant can save one or two salaries for the employees per month.

Filling Your Slow Hours Can Add Extra Revenue 

Even if you solve the major problems, one issue remains: your restaurant probably has slow hours between dinner time and the evening. Accordingly, the restaurant owner Alan started to offer discounts and some freebies for clients who came in during these slow hours. It is very easy to set up and schedule with the Tablein Offers function, because, each day, the database of restaurant customers is growing. Alan, for example, proposed 30% off pizzas as well as free dessert and coffee for later orders. Promotional offers increased reservations on an average of 47%. 

Also, the client database provides a visit history, list of cancellation numbers, a calculation of no-show clients, and a name database to help restaurant owners recognize loyal clients. Alan integrated a small loyalty program with a discount for loyal clients – giving 5% off after five visits, 10% after 10, and 15% after 15 – automatically. Clients do not need to have one more loyalty card in their wallets; this system does it for them.

The Results

The “price per client” of an online reservation system, on average, is 5 cents. However, decreased no–shows, maximized covers, and filled gaps during slow hours allow restaurants to increase their income by about 27% per year. Even if they have only 12 tables. Furthermore, what’s great is that system integration takes little time and know-how to use, because the program has functions which take off the pressure. It has never been so easy to optimize your restaurant reservation process and to earn more.

At Tablein, we always listen to our clients. And that’s why – when some of our free trial customers asked about a Tablein app – we considered it.

But after doing some research, and consulting our long-standing clients, we decided against an app and instead will continue with our web-based system.

Why?

Because, although apps are everywhere at present, they don’t always work as well as a web-based tool. And this is definitely true in the restaurant booking sector.

Here’s why a web-based booking system beats an app:

Automatic updates 

Any digital tool needs updates. But with an app that means you’re always being pestered to download the latest version – and you must have space on your device to store it. Also, you have different updates for iOS, Windows and Android devices.

With a web-based system like Tablein, updates happen without you even knowing about it. You don’t have to click buttons and wait for the latest version – all the updating happens behind the scenes– so you don’t have to do a thing. And because the tool isn’t actually installed on your machine, you don’t have to worry about space.

Access anywhere, from any device

You must download an app to any device you want to use it on. Which is fine until you lose, or break, the device that’s storing the app – or simply run out of battery. That could spell trouble.

But with a web-based system, all you need is an internet connection – so you can access it easily and quickly from any device or computer.

Greater functionality

Tablets and mobile phones are smaller and don’t offer the same screen resolution as a computer, making it complicated to use multi-featured tools such as Tablein. In fact, the optimum resolution starts from 1370px and the system works best on the Google Chrome browser. As most eateries have a computer onsite – with a nice wide screen that makes it easy to accept and manage bookings – this is by far the best option for your reservation management.

It’s also quick and simple to see the newest reservations on a computer screen, rather than all the pinging and tapping involved with an app.

Conclusion

Let’s be clear, you can access Tablein from a tablet or phone – and any other device with an internet connection.  But for maximum flexibility and functionality, a desktop computer or laptop is best, just as it is for many business management systems across lots of sectors.

So, this is why you’re not going to see a Tablein app any time soon – it’s just not right for our business model, or our customers!

See for yourself just how well our web-based system works – sign up for our 14-day free trial. Just fill in the simple form below to give us a try.

 

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How To Get The Most From Your Email Marketing

Email marketing is simply the best way to promote your restaurant. It’s fast, it’s cheap and can connect you instantly with hundreds (if not thousands) of customers at the press of a button.

But it is not a fool proof system, there are many things you have to think about and do to make your email campaigns successful.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here’s our guide to successful email marketing in the restaurant sector:

Build your list

For your email marketing campaign to be successful, you need a good list of people to send to – and that means existing and potential customers.

The easiest way to build up a strong list is to collect email addresses through an online booking app, as when people book with you in this way they supply their email address. You can also collect email addresses from a form on your website that invites people to sign up for your messages. Try offering an incentive – such as a free recipe eBook – in exchange for signing up.

Be careful with what you send

Email marketing can be great for building your business, but you must think carefully about what you’re sending. If you just send out endless pointless emails then you will annoy your recipients and they will unsubscribe. Instead, you must send emails that are actually helpful – this could be offers, deals, or useful information such as new menus or an expanded wine list.

So, think carefully about each email and ask yourself this question – does this help the recipient in some way? If the answer is no, then rewrite it!

Link it to other marketing channels

You shouldn’t just rely on email marketing to build your business. There are other ways to increase the popularity of your restaurant, such as social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest are great promotion methods, so make sure you direct people to your social media accounts through your emails. The more contact they have with you the better!

Choose good email software

If you are sending out marketing emails to more than a handful of recipients, then you need to start using email delivery software – as it lets you complete the whole process in just a few clicks. There are many options out there but we recommend Mailerlite. It’s cheaper than MailChimp, the market leader, but still has great features – such as an easy to use email editor, subscribe and unsubscribe notifications, subscriber management, and campaign reports. Also, Mailerlite offers 24/7 support by email and webchat for paying customers.

Are you ready to try email marketing for your own restaurant? Then sign up to our online booking system – Tablein – and start collecting addresses! It’s free for 14 days and there’s no catch and no obligation – just fill in the simple form below to get started.