As we hope you all know by now, in 2017 the importance of Instagram to restaurants cannot be underestimated.

In recent years, the craze for taking photos of your food and posting them on the social media platform has snowballed, and Instagram now plays a powerful role in influencing where diners choose to eat.

A London restaurant which recognises this has taken an unprecedented step – offering “foodie Instagram packs” encouraging customer to take the most enticing photos of their food.

Foodie Instagram Packs

Anyone who has tried to emulate those foodie Instagrammers who make everything they eat look picture perfect will know it’s not as easy as it looks.

Which is why Dirty Bones in Soho, London are offering their diners a kit which includes a portable LED camera light, a multi-device charger, a clip-on wide angle camera lens and a tripod selfie stick for overhead table shots.

The kits have been designed to provide Instagrammers with everything they need to capture the perfect Instagram shot.

A spokesperson for Dirty Bones said: “People love to share what they’re eating on social media, so we wanted to put together something that made it easier to get that perfect shot regardless of the lighting or time of day.”

“More and more people are also using Instagram to help them decide where to eat, so as a restaurant group it’s key for us to make sure that people are getting the best possible shots of all our dishes and drinks.”

Importance of Instagram to restaurants

Not only that, the Dirty Bones’s entire interior and menu has been designed with Instagram in mind.

The menu is packed with those super “in” dishes that look great on Instagram, like a Mac Daddy Burger, fish tacos and cheeseburger dumplings.

Letting Instagram dictate your entire restaurant decor and menu – a step too far or the future?

How simpleERB can help

With simpleERB you can help encourage their customers to take Instagram worthy snaps of your dishes.

You have the capability to edit simpleERB booking emails sent out to your diners so why not add a note asking diners to take pictures of your food? You could even add a prize for the best shot of the month.

simpleERB builds a complete record of all your customers and their preferences, ensuring that if if they love to take photos of their food they can be placed at the table with the best natural light (we all know how important natural light is for those #foodporn pics).

With simpleERB’s help, you can allow Instagram to help run your restaurant without letting it run you.

simpleERB is free for small restaurants and easily affordable for bigger ones.



Christmas. The dreaded ‘c’ word. Organising large bookings, managing deposits, dealing with no shows. It can be tough running a restaurant in December. Luckily, simpleERB has some neat features and clever hacks which can help make Christmas a little easier for you.

Make sure you’ve got the right availability on your booking widget

The simpleERB booking widget defaults to allow bookings for six months in advance. This means customers can book dates in December NOW! Get ahead of the game and make sure you’ve got any closed dates or alternative opening hours set up so you don’t take bookings you can’t accommodate.

You can amend your widget availability in the configure widget settings or set your whole diary up for Christmas using closed or partial open days.

If you have split sittings, you can enter multiple opening times for the date in ‘partial open times’.

Is your table layout different at Christmas?

If it is, there is a way for simpleERB to help you. Create a second table layout in your simple settings and call it something like Christmas 2017. Add the tables as they will be set out in December or on a particular occasion and then in advanced settings, using closed areas, close this area off from now until December and again after December. Then in December, close your normal layout so that bookings aren’t taken on those tables.

There’s a guide on how to do this in more detail here.

Take deposits

Deposits are a great way of ensuring that customers attend their booking so you avoid the dreaded no show which although unwelcome all year round, is particularly problematic over the busy Christmas period. We have customers already using our deposit system who have said the no shows have been virtually eliminated. Deposits are flexible and you can set specific amounts based on date or time and party size, you could charge per cover or per table and you can also set deadlines for customers to pay by. All of this is done securely and PCI compliant so that you don’t have card numbers or payment details lying around or visible to staff. It also usefully helps out your cash flow!

 

Booking reminders

Booking reminders are a simple way to remind your staff about certain details that they may need to pass on to customers or be aware of when entering bookings. You simply choose the dates you want your message to show and then when a member of staff adds a booking on a certain date, they’ll be prompted with date specific info. You might want to advise customers that on a certain date you are only serving a certain menu, or you could use it to remind staff to get an email address for the customers. This is an easy and flexible way to remind your staff about the little extras which happen at Christmas so that everyone is on the same page.

Create offers

We see more and more restaurants offering a normal a la carte menu as well as a Christmas menu in December and you might want to give customers the choice when they book so you can get a rough gauge on how many turkeys that the kitchen brigade may need to prep. Setting up offers is easy and like most simpleERB features, it can be used to fit around certain dates and times. You could show specific offers and price levels on some days and then maybe an increased price on a Friday. Our offers guide is here but this is a great way of giving your customer an option when booking and letting them know that things might be a bit different in December from when they normally book.

Get a step ahead of the rush and let simpleERB be your little helper this Christmas.

 



Did you know your restaurant could be saving money on taxes simply by experimenting with new recipes and cooking techniques?

According to research by Catax, 60% of restaurant owners and managers in the UK have never heard of R&D tax credits.

R&D tax credits

R&D tax credits are government tax relief rewards for companies in the UK investing in innovation.

Hospitality operators that spend time and money developing new products, processes or services or improving existing ones may be eligible for a tax reduction or cash reimbursement.

This could be anything from coming up with a new cooking technique or food preparation technique.

One restaurant client of Catax received R&D tax relief against the cost of developing a new process for removing fish skin on wild sea trout, without damaging the flesh.

Another client received tax relief against the time and money spent testing the ageing process of beef, and density of the marinade required to affect the flavour.

Restaurant tax relief

With over 50% of respondents to the Catax survey saying they have spent time and money “developing a new product over the past two years” whether it be creating new recipes or food preparation processes, the tax relief advisors believe lack of awareness around R&D is costing the UK’s restaurant and pub owners millions in tax relief.

The survey of 500 bosses found that three in five (60%) restaurant owners and managers in the UK have never heard of R&D tax relief.

Nearly half (46%) of restaurant owners and managers that had heard of it thought it was restricted to specialist tech, drug and science companies and not available to hospitality businesses.

Almost half of UK restaurant owners also said they thought any eligible R&D activity must be successful and end up on the menu for a claim to be made. This is not true – the outcome of the R&D is irrelevant.

Lack of awareness

Mark Tighe, chief executive of Catax, said: “Not enough restaurant and gastro pub owners are aware that a big part of what they do, experimenting with new recipes and food preparation techniques to differentiate themselves, will often be eligible for R&D tax relief.”

“What’s more, they don’t even need to actually sell the recipes they are experimenting with or use the cooking or preparation methods they trial: what matters is the time and money spent trying to do something new and innovate. Importantly, cash can also be realised in as little as eight weeks for reinvestment in future food experimentation.”



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.



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