Outdoor weather is upon us and we’ve been daydreaming through this list of 30 must visit beer gardens in the UK over the past few days. Plans are being made and over the next few months we are hoping there’s enough sunshine to sample at least one or two al fresco afternoons in the Great British pubs.

If you’re lucky enough to own a restaurant (or a pub) with an outdoor area, simpleERB can help you make the most of spreading your bookings around.

We’ve found a few cases where some of our users haven’t added their outdoor sections as a separate area on their table layout. Usually because they can’t guarantee the weather. A fair point. However, simpleERB allows you to close areas off for certain time periods so that no bookings will ever go into your diary for outdoor tables during the winter months. You’ll find area configuration in the advanced column of your settings menu.

If you prefer just allocating tables in your outdoor area on an ad hoc basis, you can use the configure widget settings to close your outdoor tables from online booking. This leaves them free to be booked in by you or your staff as and when the weather allows.

simpleERB has been built to let you be as flexible as possible. It lets you control exactly what you want to allocate so that customers don’t book when and where you don’t want them to.

If you need any further info on how simpleERB can help manage different restaurant areas, don’t hesitate to drop us an email on help@simpleerb.com



TripAdvisor recently released a study showing the benefits of being engaged with your customers online. It highlighted that in cases where you were seen to interact and be ‘visible’, engagement through TripAdvisor increased. Over the last few years, like them or loathe them, TripAdvisor have become the go to place for customers to research restaurants before they book. It is therefore important to ‘take control’ of your public profiles on sites like TripAdvisor or on your Google business listing.

The report showed that customer engagement increased when owners took the time to respond to reviews and simpleERB already has a function that lets you do that quickly and easily, whilst filtering the reviews that make it into the public domain.

The simpleERB customer feedback tool, when enabled, lets you engage directly and sends your customers a link to review their experience at your restaurant. Their feedback then comes straight back to you and if it’s a good review, you can send them a link to your TripAdvisor, Facebook or other social profile so that they can leave the review there too. If you are unfortunate to get a bad review (it happens to us all!), you have the opportunity to sort this out directly with the customer, rather than to air your dirty laundry on a public website.

Setting it up takes seconds but could get you closer to your customers.

See how to set up customer feedback on our help centre and engage with your customers straight away!



We just wanted to give you a quick heads up on the updates we’ve made to simpleERB over the past few days.

We’ve already brought in offers and we’re working towards a few more things to complement this feature.

This week we’ve made a change to the mobile site. Although you can view the full site on mobile, we had a separate site at m.simpleerb.com which we called ‘waiter view’. This previously only listed bookings and could only be read, not amended. Now we’ve added a ‘walkin’ button so you can add bookings quickly to the diary from any mobile device. Ideal for ‘queue busting’!​​

Inside the main site, we’ve made some improvements to the bookings detail page. You can now find customers and auto fill their details based on phone number and email, not just name. It was getting too hard sifting through all the ‘Smiths’!

In reports you can now export customers based on which offer they have booked and in the reviews report, you can download your reviews as a .csv file. There’s also a ‘disappearing customers’ report that allows you to set a reminder to check the report to see which of your regulars may have stopped visiting your restaurant.

Pairing disappearing customers up with offers could allow you to entice them back with a special deal. It also keeps you in contact with your clientele.

We also launched our help centre which over time will give you help, hints and tips on how to get the most out of your simpleERB account.

We’ve added a few things under the hood to improve your experience and squashed some bugs that popped up.

More big things are coming and it’s down to our users that we are developing the things we are. We’ve spoken to a lot of you over the last few months and it’s really given us an understanding into the challenges which restaurants face as well as seeing how differently every restaurant is run!

Thanks again for your support and remember, if you’ve got any queries, feedback or suggestions, get in touch!



Help is now at hand with our newly launched simpleERB help centre.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we love talking to you and sending you emails. And who doesn’t love getting mail? That said, we bet that every time you need a bit of help on simpleERB, you wish that you didn’t have to find the time to compose and send us an email. That’s why we’ve started collecting a bunch of useful tips as well as questions we find we get asked often, and created the simpleERB help centre.

Having the answers to questions at your fingertips will help you get things done quicker. No longer will you have to refresh your mailbox waiting for our reply!

We’re always adding content and it’s encyclopaedic knowledge will grow as we add more features to the system. (some very exciting features are coming)

tips, tips, tips…

You may also have noticed some tips popping up in simpleERB. We realise that the product is growing and you might have missed some features, so just look on these messages as a friendly nudge to something we think will make your life easier and restaurant run more efficiently.

Like we said, we do still love getting old fashioned email, so please still drop us a message with any questions that you might have. It will make us feel loved!



Do you tag customers on simpleERB? Tagging customers can help with many things such as informing your staff about a customer or booking specific information so that they know exactly which page they are on when they walk through your front door. Setting customer tags is also good for your marketing campaigns. It means you can target specific subsets of customers and you can send them info which is relevant and interesting to them.

Setting up my customer tags

We hear you cry, but how do I set up customer tags? It’s easy, and you see them every time you add a booking. The quick info buttons on the booking page are what we use to tag customers. We’ve preset some ideas for you but you can change these to anything that you want.

In your advanced settings, under general, there is a tab called ‘booking information options’. You can add, delete and reorder your ‘tabs’ from here. They will then appear on the booking information screen every time you enter a booking.

Benefitting from customer tags

We mentioned two of the ways you can benefit from tagging your customers. The most obvious and up front way is that when the diner visits your restaurant, a quick glance at your diary will show any of the tags that you’ve added so your waitstaff know straightaway that the customer is a VIP or a vegan and they can treat them accordingly.

We also mention using tags to target specific groups with mailing campaigns. Although we don’t have an ‘in-app’ mail marketing solution, there are many other dedicated services like MailChimp who do it better than we ever could. simpleERB does always allow you to download your customer data at any time so if you use tags, you can download certain samples of your database to target specific customer sets. For example, you might want to tag all customers who use a discount voucher, or book via a different website. You might want to contact them and offer them the same offer that they booked but this time directly through yourself. You could even integrate this with our new offers system and send them all a unique URL to an offer that is just for them. All you need to do is select the relevant info buttons when exporting your database.

Log in to simpleERB now and know your customers better!

 



Messages for customers is one of our new features which we’ve added on the back of some feedback from users. Many of our users wanted to be able to convey specific information to customers depending on when they have booked.

Those of you who are familiar with our messages for staff feature, will know exactly how this new feature works. Like staff messages, messages for customers allows you to pre-set messages for the benefit of your customers who are booking online. You choose a set of dates and a time when you want the info to be available and when a customer visits you website and tries to make a booking, the info will appear once the customer has selected the time they wish to book.

A few customers have asked if we are going to allow messages for customers appear on the very front page of the widget rather than being dependant on a date, day or time. We might, but in the meantime, the best thing to do would be to use some of the space around your web widget on your own website, to add your own text. For example, this is how Spitfire Barbecue in Bristol do it.

Of course, you could use the messages for customers feature to tie in with your offers, which you can now also add for booking on your simpleERB widget.



We are delighted to bring you this latest update which includes a feature we’ve been wanting to include in simpleERB for a long time. We have always had “Promotions” in simpleERB but we have greatly expanded this kind of functionality in our new offers section. As of today, your simpleERB account will include the ability to add offers which you can assign to customers or your customers can choose when they book online via your widget. Alongside offers, we’ve tidied up some sections, squashed some bugs and also added a much requested feature, “messages for customers”.

booking offers

simpleERB’s new offers feature allows you to set up offers and promotions which you run in your own restaurant so that you can offer these to customers online, allowing them to pick and choose which menu they will dine on or give them an incentive to book with special discounts. When a customer books, the booking will be tagged with the offer they have chosen and you’ll know exactly what they have booked when they walk through the front door. The offers feature allows you to add full flexible availability so that only certain offers appear at certain dates and times. It also allows you to store offers so if you want to add a one off offer to make available off the cuff, it’s there for you to quickly add availability to.

You’ll also be provided with a unique offer URL so you can post a link to any special offers anywhere you want. You might want to even pass the URL on to coupon companies, so your customers know exactly where to go to redeem their voucher. This will save you having a deluge of phonecalls at the start and end of the promotional period from customers looking to redeem their voucher.

messages to customers

Alongside adding offers, we’ve also cloned our messages for staff feature so that now you can add messages for customers using your widget. Once they start making a booking, any relevant info that you want to post, whether it is that you are only serving a certain menu on a particular date or that a jazz band will be playing on Saturday afternoon, will be displayed for them on the booking widget. It’s a great way to let customers know any information which may be date specific.

minor changes

We’ve also made an update to the way in which bookings are confirmed on screen. Previously you were taken to a new page which showed the booking reference before clicking on again to go back to your diary. We’ve taken this screen out but replaced it with a small message bar at the top of the page which gives you details of the booking as well as the reference. We think this makes the process a bit quicker and smoother to work.
Not resting on our laurels, we are already busy working on structured menus and what we think will be some welcome additions to the grid view which will include ‘drag and drop bookings’. As always, we welcome all feedback and if there’s something you think simpleERB could do better, then let us know.



Customer reminders are becoming more and more essential to our users. Alongside deposits, they are one of the key ways that you can ensure that your tables don’t end up empty through a no show. Have you set them up yet?

setting up customer reminders

It’s easy to set up automated reminders. In your simpleERB advanced settings, you will find an option called booking reminders under the general settings. You can choose whether you want to send email reminders or SMS reminders. If you want to send SMS messages, you’ll need some credits. Just drop us an email for prices and how to add.

The messages will be pre-populated with the date and time of the customers booking and you can add in an additional message for them. We suggest something along the lines of a prompt which would serve as a reminder to the customer to cancel their booking if they can no longer make it.

You can set up more than one reminder so that the customer gets a message maybe one or two weeks prior to the booking and then again 24 hours beforehand.

 

free up tables

In giving this extra reminder to your customers, not only are you maintaining contact with them, you are engaging with them to give you a positive (or negative!) confirmation with regards to their booking.



Customer retention is important. Yes it’s good to attract new customers through the door but you can never underestimate the importance of having a loyal core of customers who keep coming back. What to do though when the same faces don’t seem to be coming through the door every month? Well, you could tempt them with an offer or just reach out and remind them where you are.

Get in touch with your customers

simpleERB allows you to download your customer list at any time using the ‘customer export’ function within reports, but did you know that simpleERB can now alert you if some of your regulars become irregular? Again, within the reports section, there is an option called ‘disappearing customers’ which allows you to specify a set of rules such as ‘show me customers who have visited x times in the last x months but have NOT visited in the last x months‘.

You can set up alerts so that you are sent a list of these customers each week. You could then export this list as a csv file and use the customers details to send out a marketing email.

Hopefully you’ll begin to see familiar faces back by their favourite seat by the window.

And the post title? Well, I’ve had this song rattling around my head all week and it was as tenuous a link as i could make at this time on a Friday afternoon.



Use Mailchimp to manage your email marketing? Now you can use it to manage your Facebook Ads too.

Mailchimp Facebook Ad Campaigns, launched this week, allows Mailchimp users to create Facebook ads and track their performance within their Mailchimp account.

Image from http://blog.mailchimp.com/

The email marketing platform was launched following requests from users to take the sleek user friendly interface of Mailchimp to other marketing channels.

Tom Klein, Mailchimp’s CMO said: “After email, Facebook ads are the next most popular choice with our customers for acquiring customers and generating revenue. We created an ad buying experience that feels like MailChimp, so customers can create beautiful ads quickly and get back to building their business. In just a few steps, you can create ads, set your targeting, and decide your budget. And if you’re already comfortable with MailChimp’s interface, you’ll feel right at home.”

“Businesses keep their customer data and product photos in MailChimp, so it’s the perfect place to kick off an ad campaign to acquire new customers using the data and content they already have. And since a user can sync up their store with MailChimp, we can even tell you the ROI and sales your ad generated. That’s always been tough for entrepreneurs,” says John Foreman, VP of Product Management.

Use simpleERB with Mailchimp Facebook Ad Campaigns

It’s not an exaggeration for us to suggest that simpleERB plus Mailchimp Facebook Ad Campaigns may be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.

Thanks to simpleERB, you already have the gold dust – the email addresses of people who have dined at your restaurant.

You can add your email address to Mailchimp, use the platform to start ad campaigns and find new customers who live in the same locations and have similar interests as your current customers.

Not only can you use Mailchimp Facebook Ad Campaigns to grow your lists, you can also find audiences that look similar to your most engaged customers and target them.

And if any of this sounds overwhelming don’t worry, beta testers of the new interface described it as “really simple,” “ridiculously fast,” smooth, and straightforward”.



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