When you own and manage a restaurant, deciding whether to take reservations isn’t a simple yes or no. There are pros and cons to taking reservations, especially when people do not turn up. Luckily, there are reservation apps and websites that can charge a fee for no-shows, so that your business can make reservations without the worry.
On the other hand, reservations bring more people to the restaurant and increase profits. If you are contemplating making reservations a part of your restaurant, you should consider a trial period to weigh up the pros and cons and decide whether it will work going forward. This article explores why your restaurant business should take reservations and how to work out the details.
Dealing With No Shows
One of the biggest reasons that restaurant owners get put off taking reservations is no-shows. When people book ahead, there is always a chance that they change their mind and don’t bother telling the restaurant. This is more common than you think. When you have turned away walk-ins for a group that does not turn up, this leads to a loss of custom and profit, which is incredibly frustrating.
You can deal with this by using a reservation system that lets your customers book and cancel their bookings online. These types of systems often charge customers if they do not turn up or cancel their table with less than 24 hours left until their reservation. As employees may not always be able to get to the phone, this makes the process easier for everyone involved.
When looking for a reservation system for your restaurant, the two main platforms are Yelp and OpenTable. These systems usually take credit card details and charge a fee, so you will not miss out if you get a last-minute cancellation. People are also less likely to cancel if they’ve put down a deposit. You should research the key differences between Yelp vs. OpenTable, including the benefits of each system, so you can choose which system is best for your business.
Reservations Make It Easier For Employees
When your employees are aware of how busy the kitchen and floor are going to be, they are more likely to be prepared. When reservations are made in advance, you can check how many meals are going to be cooked and prep any food that can be prepped before the influx of people. This can lower employee stress levels, so your employees can feel in control on a busy night.
As a business owner, knowing how many reservations have been made each day allows you to staff the shift properly too. If a large booking is made, you have time to reach out to employees and ask if they’ll come into work or stay later to cover for a large reservation. When it comes to large bookings, you may want to ask your customers to choose their food in advance, to make sure it can come out together. This will leave your customers happier and will reduce the stress on employees.
Reservations Can Lead To Higher Tips And Profits
If you are looking to improve your profits, reservations are one way to do this. Usually, large groups looking to plan a celebratory meal for birthdays, thanksgiving, or other holidays want to book somewhere in advance. That way, they know they won’t get turned away, especially around peak seasons and weekends.
When customers come to celebrate in a restaurant, this leads to bigger tips. You can also add an optional service charge for larger groups. If they have a good time, they are more likely to pay for it. This leads to bigger profits and better tips for your employees, which makes for happy employees too. When you have great employees, you want to do everything in your power to keep them working at your restaurant, as good employees can be hard to come by. Employee retention can help keep your profit high and reduce overhead costs associated with hiring.
Reservations Allow For Better Room Planning
Ever had a large group come in the middle of service, and you needed to rearrange your seating plans to make room? This is a great position to be in, but moving around the dining tables in the middle of service doesn’t exactly look professional. Furthermore, it can take up precious time that servers could be using to clear tables and look after guests. When you go with a reservation approach, you can ensure the room is already planned out for optimum service for every group.
How To Manage Reservations And Walk-Ins
Reservations can make it more difficult if you tend to be in a busy area that brings a lot of walk-ins. To counteract this problem, you should make sure to keep some tables free for walk-ins, even if that means turning away some reservations. If you set aside a part of your restaurant that is just for walk-ins, this will ensure that you always have the room and won’t have to turn as many people away.
Reservations Can Lower Waiting Times
Do you often find that you have to turn customers away due to long waiting times? Long lines are more common when you cannot make reservations at a restaurant, as nobody knows the right time to turn up. When booking reservations, you can stagger customers so that there is a gap between orders, reducing the time they need to wait and leaving customers happier with the service.
There are ways to reduce your waiting times, such as using a restaurant waitlist app. This allows customers to see current waiting times, and customers can even check in and get a notification when it’s time to go to their table.
It is important not to overdo reservation booking when trialing reservations in your restaurant, especially when your employees are still getting used to the transition. However tempting it may be to try and squeeze everybody in on a busy weekend, this could backfire later in the night. If a party turns up late, this will mess with the times all evening. Never take reservations back-to-back all night, however adamant your guests are that they want a specific time slot.
You should always leave a buffer between bookings, which is a certain amount of time between one group leaving and another coming in. Nobody wants to be rushed off their tables as this does not provide a luxury and calming dining experience. You can also counteract this by letting your customers know in advance how long they will have at their table. Add a policy in your reservation booking system which gives you the right to give the table to another party if they are over 15 minutes late and do not let the restaurant know.
As you can see, there are many benefits of taking reservations in your restaurants, including better profits and lower waiting times. You can counteract many reservation problems by avoiding taking too many bookings and leaving some tables free for walk-ins. Using a website or app to manage your reservations will make the process more streamlined and charge customers a fee if they do not show, so you don’t need to worry about losing out.