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.

To succeed in the 21st century, a business needs a website – and this applies as much to the restaurant trade as any other sector.

But there are an awful lot of bad websites out there, so you need to think carefully about your site and how your present your restaurant to the world. With a bit of thought and planning you can create a website that pulls in customers from far and wide.

Here’s the five ingredients you should put into the mix when cooking up your website:

Tell people what they need to know 

If someone is going to visit your website then they want information, so think about what they would want to know and make sure you cover all these bases. This could include things like the style of cuisine you cook, your menus, the story behind your restaurant, your location, and your prices.

Get snapping

People want to see what your restaurant looks like – inside and out – so take lots of snaps and put them up on your site. Make sure your restaurant looks attractive, bright and welcoming in all the pictures you use. People also want to know what your food looks like, so take pictures of some of your most delicious looking dishes and feature these on your site as well.

Talk about your team

A restaurant is a people business, so tell your customers about your team and what they do and display a picture of you all together and smiling. This makes your website – and your restaurant – warm, friendly and inviting and will make people want to visit you and meet the people they see online. 

Shout about your successes

Have you won any awards or competitions? Then tell your potential customers about them, as this proves your food is good. Equally, if you’ve had any glowing reviews from newspapers or magazines then include links to them so that people can read about what critics think of your food. Also, include great reviews from your ordinary customers – as everyone who enjoys a meal at your restaurant is a success story and can encourage others to try your food.

Display your booking app prominently

It’s not enough for people just to visit your website – you need them to book a table! So have your booking app displayed prominently on your site, thus making it as easy as possible for people to book with you.

We think a website is such a crucial part of running a business that we even offer a free web design service to any of our customers who don’t yet have one. You can see an example of a website we designed here.

And if you would like to try our booking app, then you can do so at no cost and with no obligation, as we offer a 14 day free trial. Just fill in the simple form below to try us for two weeks.

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