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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.