Reduce Restaurant No-Shows

Even when the world isn’t being threatened with a global pandemic, cancelled reservations or no-show guests is a hassle for restaurants. Especially since the virus has forced so many businesses to shut down permanently this year, it’s critical to pull in as much revenue as they possibly can. While they’re operating at reduced capacity, restaurants need to serve every possible guest, so when customers cancel without warning they’re doing more damage than they might realize.

In the industry today, the no-show rate on reservations hovers around 20%. This ends up costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars each week because restaurants can’t collect from the guest who was supposed to be there nor any walk-ins either.

With this potential loss in mind, restaurants may be tempted to overbook to offset potential no-shows, but this strategy means you might turn away loyal guests down the line. Instead of overbooking or eliminating reservations altogether, consider revitalizing your reservation system to optimize profit. Control your restaurant’s seating, prevent loitering crowds, track COVID-19 outbreaks and reap the profits of reservations when you bolster your system with advanced technology such as the Point of Sale offered by eatOS.

Reduce the Risk of No-Shows

Software, like the kind you get with eatOS Point of Sale, handles your reservations faster and more accurately than keeping a manual log. It reduces staff’s workload and consequently leaves less room for overworked, human error. This feature also enables leaving notes about allergies, preferences and more so you can cater to each guest’s individual expectations and ensure they have an experience that keeps them coming back. Guests are also able to modify their own reservations so if they have to cancel, you’ll know in advance and can give their table to somebody else.

Cancellation capabilities are important because you want guests to be able to freely reschedule if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They can do it from your app or website, but you should also leave phone channels open too. Some restaurants even give customers the ability to cancel via text. Make it easy for everyone to cancel or modify reservations, and through a variety of methods, so they’re not tempted to simply ghost and you can make sure somebody gets the table who will actually use it.

Consolidate the information from all your reservation platforms including Google, your website and your app into one easy-to-use dashboard interface so you can easily keep track of every reservation. Even use the software to send automatic guest reminders to further reduce the risk that someone misses an appointment. Notify them via push notification, text or email with the information they give when making the appointment in the first place: Collecting this data is especially useful when creating targeting marketing campaigns, and right now it’s especially important to have a point of contact so you can easily track them down if someone tests positive for COVID-19. Reservation software even makes contact tracing easy.

Flexibility and Communication

Life happens unexpectedly. Extend some kindness to customers by providing a flexible reservation window so they can still make use of the table, even if they’re running a few minutes late. Giving a fifteen or twenty minute grace period demonstrates your understanding that sometimes people get stuck in traffic, leave late or need time to arrive for some other reason. Let them know about this grace period in your confirmation emails or phone call reminders to develop a better, more transparent guest-management relationship.

Courtesy reminders are a great way to reduce no-shows by themselves. Send a text, make a call or write up an email letting guests know twenty-four hours in advance of their reservation. Some PoS systems are able to send automatic messages so you don’t have to increase staff workload just because you’re bolstering your systems. In the message, ask if there’s anything you can do to make their experience better, remind them of the COVID-19 safety rules and reiterate any necessary communications you’d like them to know about before coming into your restaurant, such as parking instructions or pet policies.

Another guaranteed way to entice customers to keep reservations is to charge a fee for missed appointments, which you can apply to late cancellations too. Take credit card information for every reservation so you can charge it if they don’t show. Some restaurants have taken a creative approach to the inevitable customer complaints that they get about this policy by converting cancellation fees into a gift card upon their next visit; this intrinsically encourages them to return so they can use, not forfeit, what they already paid.

Despite all of these precautions and new measures, no-shows are going to happen. Life is unexpected, emergencies crop up and people simply forget their plans sometimes. It’s important to have an appropriate response in place for when this inevitability occurs. Here’s where it’s useful to get customer contact information at the time of reservation: Follow up with those who miss their appointments and invite them to come back. Let them know you missed them so they know you noticed their absence, and encourage them to return to a place of business that cares. Don’t demonstrate upset; merely invite customers to come back again, and even link them directly to your reservations page so they have an easy avenue to do it.

It’s frustrating when customers miss a reservation, but you have the opportunity to reduce the likelihood of that happening and even turn it into a new opportunity to see them again. Get cutting-edge reservation software and watch your cancellations and no-shows shrink while your overall reservation system works more efficiently and more profitably than ever before.

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