No shows at restaurants have always been a problem, whether the customer had an unforeseen emergency or just a general lack of courtesy, restaurant owners know that handled incorrectly it can have a big impact on their restaurant’s bottom line.
It’s never been easier to book a table at a restaurant, whether via a third party reservation platform, an app on android or iPhone, a website or simply over the phone. In some cases, especially in the cities restaurant owners can find that potential customers are booking multiple venues and at the last moment choosing one to visit. Clearly a frustration for many.
So how can you put an end to ‘No Shows’ at your restaurant?
Firstly review the information you take on the booking. Make sure your staff are getting the detail right. Name, contact telephone numbers and email is mandatory. But is there anything else you can add? Yes, there is.
Take Credit Card Details and charge a no show fee.
At some restaurants, it is mandatory to collect credit card details and even charge a fee for a no show. If the restaurant finds other customers for the table then it is their decision to waive the fee. Some restaurants choose not to go down this route as they want to portray a fair and honest booking relationship. Whilst this is positive you may want to check your books to see the real impact no shows may be having on your business.
Send them an SMS booking reference or an email.
By sending customers a confirmation via SMS or email your customer will receive an expectation in writing to fulfil their booking.
Make a phone call to your customer beforehand.
As a courtesy maybe consider calling the customer a day before the reservation date to reaffirm the booking. You can elaborate by suggesting seating arrangements or whether they are celebrating an event etc. This adds to the customer’s positive experience.
Voucher the no show fee.
How does this work? Apply the no show credit card charge in the form of a voucher that the customer can re-use at a later date. This covers the cost of the no show and is a fair proposition to the customer and for you.
Make it easier for your customers to cancel.
Why would this work? From industry reports, there is a suggestion that when customers ‘try’ to cancel they just can’t. Maybe the phone rings out because your phones are not manned all the time. Consider out sourcing your table reservations to a third party.
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Maybe use a third party booking company.
By using a company such as OpenTable they take care of administration around table bookings. If a customer fails on a no show they may have their account terminated. Working with OpenTable amongst others enables you to incentivise via a dining point scheme for customers who honour their bookings.
Use apps where you can.
There are many apps used by customers looking for a bargain. If you end up with a late cancellation or a no show you can tap into an app where your free table is promoted to potential customers close by. A push notification goes out with a discounted offer that can bring in an immediate solution.
Above all else review and maybe update your reservation policy. Trial some of the suggestions above and hopefully you can plug a financial hole on your balance sheet.