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”.



We’ve recently added the ability to take deposits through simpleERB and many of our users have already taken the ball and run with it. One of the great things we find, is that our users all have different ways of using the system. We’ve seen that taking deposits is no different.

In basic terms, we set deposits up so that restaurants could take deposits or card details for bookings at certain times. Whether the deposit was being taken on specific days or in a certain time period, for example Christmas, it was a simple process. Of course, along then came our users who made us think of different ways in which they might want to use the deposits system.

We already have offers in the pipeline (shhhh, it’s still under wraps!) but our users have asked now that we’re doing deposits, can they sell ‘tickets’ or take full payment in advance. We’ll have an elegant solution for this in the future, but for now, it’s still something which can be done.

You might be running a charity dinner or your restaurant may only offer a set menu and for this reason, you’d maybe want people to pay in advance. Say, for example, that on a Saturday night you are always booked up weeks in advance, especially at 8pm, you can tailor the deposit settings within simpleERB to take a payment for bookings only at that time.

How do I set it up?

Easily! Once you’ve configured your simpleERB account to your Stripe account, you’ll need to set up some rules.

Within the deposit settings, choose to set a deposit for the day and time at which you want to take a payment for. e.g. If you’re selling tickets to a dinner, select the start time of the event and make it the same as the end time. Then select the deposit amount in if you require the payment to be completed in advance. And that’s it, done!

When customers go to book at this time, they will be asked for full payment and will be automatically sent a payment link or if they book via the widget, they’ll get the chance to pay there and then.

If you have any questions about deposits, please email us on help@simpleerb.com or refer to the help guide within your simpleERB account.

 



A curse for restaurateurs, here’s how to reduce restaurant no shows to near zero.

If a restaurant is working on a small profit margin, a few no shows on a busy night can be the difference between working for nothing and turning  a profit.

simpleERB has the tools to enable you to reduce the financial cost of  your no shows  dramatically.

Automatic booking reminders

You can set any number of these these up to go to customers. e.g.  if someone books a long way ahead, one can go  a month before their date of arrival and another a couple of days before.

They can go by email or sms/text.

How to reduce restaurant no shows

Diners can be sent sms/text or email reminders of their reservation.

 

 

Hold credit cards securely in a PCI compliant manner

You don’t want to be holding people’s credit card numbers in any other form.  You would be leaving your self wide open to fraud and even be fined by your bank or credit card company. simpleERB has integrations with Stripe and Paypal to let you do this.

Take deposits

Again our integrations with Stripe and Paypal allow you to do this.

simpleERB gives you full control, so if you want to only insist on credit card numbers for your busy times like Friday or Saturday nights you can do this. Or only for Xmas. Or only for Valentines Day. Or only for bookings of over 10 covers…

Here is how simple it looks in simpleERB…

simpleERB credit card capture

Hold credit cards in a PCI compliant way. Take deposits.

The last thing is, all of these ideas are simple to implement. And quick. Immediately actionable tactics to help reduce restaurant no shows.

p.s. You could always go  “All ticket” – and charge everyone in advance. Just a thought…simpleERB lets you do that as well 🙂



We’ve just had Christmas but with Valentines Day looming we wanted to point you in the direction of a neat little ‘hack’ which might make your planning for special occasions or one off events in your restaurant run a little more smoothly.

One of our new users, Allium by Mark Ellis, came to us last month looking to set up their restaurant differently for a few days in February around Valentines Day. Rather than have their regular setup, they wanted a predominantly two cover per table setup just for one or two nights.

valentines layoutWhat they did was add a new area called ‘Restaurant Valentines’ with the layout they required. Then in advanced settings they used the closed area function to close out their usual restaurant area for these dates. In addition to that, they made sure that the Valentines area was closed from now until the date they required it in February and then again after these dates until a date much further in the future.

You could keep this area in your layouts to be used again or diarise a reminder to delete the area once the event has passed. It’s up to you.

The restaurant are now able to take bookings without having to worry about rearranging tables once bookings have been made.

As always, drop us an email on help@simpleerb.com if you require any further information or a nudge in the right direction!



We just wanted to let you know about a few updates which we’ve made over the last few weeks. They will probably be the last updates this year but we have loads planned for 2017 and always like to hear if you have any ideas.

As well as squashing the odd bug here and there, we’ve added the ability to add walkin bookings on the mobile waiter view, we’ve fixed the rankings by cover amount and we’ve added additional responsiveness to the horizontal widget so that it looks better on mobile sites.

If you visit m.simpleerb.com on your mobile device, you might have noticed in the past that it just listed your daily bookings. Naturally, the smaller screen means that we can’t display simpleERB on mobile the same way we do on a desktop or laptop, even iPad. However, we challenged our designers to add a bit of usability to the mobile site and the first thing we have added is the ability to add walkin bookings via mobile. Using simpleERB on a phone was always meant to be something which we envisioned front of house staff using to check in customers. Adding a walk in booking is the next logical step for us. What else would you like to do on mobile?

We’ve also tidied up table ranking by cover numbers so that as well as having a general table ranking with all your tables, you can also view your rankings by a certain amount of covers, for example, what order are tables of 4 allocated? This should help you make it easier and more clear for simpleERB to allocate tables.

Finally, using the horizontal widget? Many of you are. You might have noticed that viewing the horizontal widget on a mobile can lead to quite a bit of pinching on your phone screen as you try and zoom in and out. Some websites that aren’t properly optimised didn’t really like the widget all that much but we’ve made some changes to the widget which will resize it based on the size of screen you are viewing it on.

As we said, there’s a lot more in the pipeline and if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like to see in simpleERB, drop us an email on help@simpleerb.com



Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American readers! We hope you are suitably rested after yesterdays festivities and are avoiding Black Friday as much as you can. If you’re anything like us then you’ll be feasting on cold leftovers today. In fact, we’re of the opinion that the leftovers might be the best part of a celebratory meal, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas. This writer may even have contemplated cooking a large roast just for the plethora of leftover possibilities that it provides.

Enough about us though. What’s your favourite recipe for leftovers? We’ve been salivating over some of these ideas from Serious Eats this morning. Stuffing waffles. Kentucky hot brown. Count us in.

Of course, it’s not all about gluttony at this time of year and we were reminded, whilst dreaming of leftovers, of The Real Junk Food project who liberate food destined for the restaurant bin to turn it into delicious dishes. They feed anyone and it’s a pay what you want concept, so if you’re in need, just enjoy the food. If you can dip into your pocket, then you’ll help the organisation continue their good work.

Happy holidays!



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