If you’re a restaurateur and you take bookings, you’ve dealt with the restaurant no-shows issue. The words “that table of five at 8pm haven’t turned up” have sent a shiver down your tired spine as you realise you’re not reselling that at this time of night.

It’s more than just annoying, it can be detrimental to your business. Did you know that between 2018-2019, 15 UK restaurants closed per week? A shocking figure that’s not helped by empty tables undermining restaurants’ bottom lines. It’s why the hospitality industry is pushing back against no-shows, with public campaigns and social media backlash.

But maybe there’s a better way? It’s the 21st century, and we’re all quite happy to use tech across every part of our daily lives. It’s time to take that thinking into your restaurants. There’s no quick fix for the issue, but there are various ways that you can curb restaurant no-shows, or stop them altogether. There are also some things you shouldn’t be doing in the fight against no-shows.

Do’s

Take payments: Secure your revenue with tokenisation (where you store a customer’s card details and charge the card if they don’t turn up), deposits (great at Christmas or for large parties), and ticketing.

Set reminders: Send email reminders as well as SMS reminders using ResDiary’s integration with Silverstreet. Customers can cancel or amend their reservations directly from them.

Double confirmations: Send an email from your ResDiary system asking them to click on a link to confirm, or give them a call. This can be tracked in ResDiary, making it easy to keep track.

Use your own branding: Customise your confirmation emails and make it feel like these communications are coming from your venue, not your automated booking system.

Overbook: Pull reports to see what your no-show rates are. If 20% if your bookings routinely don’t turn up, you may have room to overbook a bit.

Run a waitlist: Using ResDiary’s inbuilt W8List, customer details can be stored within your system, with accurate wait times shown. Automatically send a text to let the customer know their table is ready.

Don’ts

Be reactive: It’s important to remember that you are running a business and you’ve probably spent a while building up your customer following online. You likely have many loyal customers who come regularly but how many of them really follow the #stopnoshows hashtag. To them, you’re just having a rant, and it can be off-putting. Be pro-active with our top social media tips.

Last minute deals: Friday is quiet, stick on a 50% deal and promote it through Facebook and a deal website, right? Perhaps not. The issue with deals like this is that there’s no loyalty to your venue here. These guests are visiting because they’re getting it cheap. Use your ResDiary mailing system to pull off a report of guests who visit you regularly. Segment this database, and send them an email with an incentive to book in, using our advanced promotions and channels features.

Getting block happy: . While it’s really tempting to hit the button in the heat of the moment, it is important to hold back. The customer may genuinely have forgotten about their booking, a family emergency could have happened. Stuff happens. If they’re regular customers and first offenders, it’s worth dropping them an email to see what happened.

Here’s what our customers have to say:

“We use text reminders to give people warning of their booking. We let them cancel or move their booking from there too, so we know if they can’t make it. For the sake of a few pence, it’s much cheaper than a no-show.”

Peter Kinsella, owner, Lunya Restaurants

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