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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.

You’ve made a booking for a large group in your restaurant. At the designated time, you prepare the table, polish the glasses, and wait for your customer, until you realize: They haven’t arrived, aren’t coming, and you have another no-show.

From the wasted preparation time to the lost revenue, “no-shows” can be extremely damaging to any restaurant. Consider an equation with 10 “no-shows” a day; if the average value of each missed table is 20-50 euros, it costs 4,800-12,000 a month in lost revenue.

So, a restaurant can reduce “no-shows” in some ways:

Use an Online Booking System

As clients become smarter with their smart devices, restaurants should also be more contemporary and modern. Using an online reservation system, such as Tablein, you can reduce “no-shows” easily by sending automatic reminders to clients with links to cancel or change booking hours. This would be difficult to do with a paper book. The system provides automatic confirmations and reminders to the client’s phone or email. Easy cancellation, reminders, and psychological nudges help clients to feel more responsible for canceling online or even amending their reservation. They are, then, less likely to cancel in the future or become a no-show.

Also, an online booking system has synchronization with phone or computer calendars, so after confirmation, your customer can set their lunch or dinner time in their calendar by clicking one button. This helps to streamline their own scheduling tasks.

Ask for Deposits
Asking for deposits from clients can result in a decrease of “no-shows” even further. You can ask that they pay a deposit at the time the reservation is made. If guests need to change their reservation, they can, but the deposit is non-refundable for unexplained no-shows. This helps to make restaurants more efficient, so chefs can plan ahead. Tablein integration with PayPal allows you to do this easily and quickly. You can ask for deposits during peak hours, on Friday or Saturday evenings, or only for events and celebrations like Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.

Turn Charges Into a Gift Card
If you charge the customer for a no-show, you can send a gift card which the customer may use with you at a later date. In that case, your restaurant doesn’t have losses, your potential client is happier, and they are more likely spend money in addition to the gift card next time.

Limit Reservations
One of the extreme methods for reducing the number of no-shows is to eliminate restaurant reservations entirely. It means there won’t be any potential for no-shows. However, it can be a flawed solution if the restaurant is not very popular. Not accepting reservations works best for restaurants with mid- to low-priced menus, as customers at higher-end restaurants are likely to bristle at being told to wait hours for a table.

If you’d like to find out how an online booking app can help you reduce no-shows – you can try Tablein for free. Just fill in the short and simple form below to start your 14-day free, no-obligation trial.

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!

Social media has a great impact on every business. Even if your restaurant has a website, social media is a channel where you can contact, communicate, and engage your customers. From Facebook, to Instagram, to Twitter, or other apps, you can chose all or concentrate on just one of them. However, not all restaurants communicate in these channels as properly as they could, so as to receive a great turnout.
Here is list of tricks you can leverage to attract more customers into your restaurant.

1. Add an Online Reservation Widget
Even if you are not active on social media, your clients are probably looking for you there and gaining an impression by your online presence (or lack thereof). If they want to reserve a table for lunch or dinner, they would prefer to do it quickly and easily. By adding an online reservation widget to your profile, you’re providing them with a quick button to click and enjoy your services. You can also use it in all your restaurant messages and ads.

2. Respond to Reviews and Comments
It is better to respond to a bad comment than to delete it or remove your review section. Every restaurant has misunderstandings, so it would be a better tactic to apologize, request an opportunity for redemption, and then prove its importance. This may allow you to save a customer as well as your restaurant’s reputation, by admitting fault and offering to resolve the situation. It is also a good trick to show appreciation for positive reviews. A good rule of thumb is to respond to reviews within 24 hours.

3. Share High Quality Food Photos
No matter the platform you use, photos are the most important communication message in a restaurant’s profile. It is necessary to upload photos of restaurant meals, the environment, or the chef in the kitchen regularly. Be sure that the photos are high quality, and don‘t upload pictures bought from stock images. It is better to maintain one photo style or to use the same filter across all photos. This will make the profile look more complete and orderly.

4. Use Videos
Short 30-second or 1-minute videos engage people better than any other style of content. In a video, you can tell a story, pique an appetite, or interest your customers. You can film a “welcome” message from the chef, a video showcasing your clients’ experience, or share a customer’s testimonial. Stream events, videos of the chef preparing special meals, or talk about news of your restaurant on a live video. It will help activate the fans and keep you in the loop, since live-streams leave special notifications for your followers.

5. Add a Menu
Make sure that your menu is not just on your website, but on social media too. Include a link to it in your tweets and posts, so that potential customers can take action, browse for more information, and engage.

6. Create Value
Special offers, contests, daily specials, and valuable content (such as recipes, chef advice, and stories about your journey) are a great way to engage customers. You can remind clients of big festivals, celebrations, and other events, so they’re enticed to visit your restaurant. You can even frame it as advice, such as: “Looking for the most romantic place on Valentine’s Day? We have candles, harp music, and great meals – everything you need to surprise your beloved!” By posting a daily special, you can invite people to come to your restaurant that day.

7. Focus on Trending Topics or Themes
Jumping on topics is a great way to increase customer engagement. It can be a topic about weather, fashion, technology, food, city events, traveling, and more – but you must avoid politics and social themes. “News-jacking“ is a good way to get unfollowed, so be careful with text and context, which can sometimes call out negative replies.

8. Use Hashtags
Special hashtags can help customers find you by location, special places, or keywords; for example: #restaurantinparis, #foodlondoncentre, #dinnerinmanhattan, #tastytacos. The more hashtags you use within a single post, the more likely it is your post will be exposed to a larger audience. You can also create personally branded or creative hashtags, which should be used with all your messages; for example: #foodbymood or #piccolaitalia. This method helps attain more followers, who recognize you and find all your specials within. Use hashtag generator, if you are low in ideas.

9. Target by Geography
Targeting your customer by country, city, or interests may be very expensive, so social media lets you target people by the location of your restaurant – also known as geo-targeting. Geo-targeting reaches potential customers who traveling, living, working, or shopping near your restaurant with a limited budget. The ads work efficiently, if you post daily specials, offers, and other unique content for people in that geographic place.

10. Add “Call to Actions”
Just posting is not enough. It is necessary to entice customers to communicate, posting replies to comments, tweets, or messages. Along with great photos and content, you should always add a “call to action” text; for example, ask them to try a new meal or reserve a table by clicking your special link or button.

Although each of these tricks can help you to engage your customers and increase your fans, it is always better to create a marketing plan, monitoring your posts and measuring their effectiveness. By using these tricks in conjunction with that strategy, you can validate your target segment and find out which tricks work most effectively for your restaurant’s customers.

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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