We launched an update to simpleERB earlier this week. You will see there are a couple of noticeable changes to current settings we hope you find helpful.

 

Bug Fix – First name only customer data being overwritten 

We were alerted that if a customers booking was being entered into the diary with only a single first name and the auto-fill feature was not being utilized, simpleERB was overwriting the customer data with the new details entered. This has been fixed to stop this and the new one button auto-fill launched in the last release will make it easier to use your current customer database. 

 

Forward Covers Booked – Tweaks to data surfaced 

We found that the report was pulling walkin covers in both data ranges. This was not the correct data you require for forward planning as you need to know what is booked in place and not going to be picked up on the day. This has now been fixed so walkin covers are not surfaced and we changed the title to ‘covers’ instead of ‘bookings’. You can find our help article for further information here along with the report setting link here.  We really recommend that you give this feature a spin if you have not.

 

Restaurant Areas – Help text edit 

We noticed that some people were getting a bit confused about the ‘box’ in the restaurant area setting for allowing multiple areas to only open for bookings of X covers. This was preventing some restaurant who filled it in to get bookings. We have added some more explanatory text to tell everyone to leave this blank if they only have one area in their diary. 

 

New Report Stat Box – Cover usage 

We thought it might be handy to have your cover usage visible in the stats section of reports for a quick view alongside your booked cover. This helps to monitor if you are going to run out of covers in the billing period and may need to look at upgrading your plan. 

 

SMS Booking Reminder – Changes to sending abilities 

We had a request to tweak the current SMS booking reminder (if text credit has been purchased), so that texts could be sent out to set minutes/hours prior to the booking date. You can now auto send SMS reminders; hours/minutes, days or both to all your booked customers with a listed mobile contact. The message also now addresses the customer by name to make it more personable. 

 

Cancelled Bookings Report – Records which user cancelled 

In the cancelled booking report, we have now listed next to the booking, a record of which staff user has cancelled this. This could be helpful to surface if you needed to find out why it was cancelled. You can also now see in this report if a customer has cancelled this booking via the cancellation link in a booking email. 

 

Bug Fix – Usage cover discrepancy 

simpleERB was doubling up cover allocation and showing the incorrect cover usage in the plan usage setting. This is now resolved and all cover usage is now being presented accurately, so you will no longer be surprised or wondering why you have ran out of covers when the setting was still showing covers unused. 

 

Recorded Notes – Update of how any notes/changes to bookings are recorded

The biggest update in this release is an overhaul on the way booking notes/changes are recorded in the customers individual booking place (IBP). We found that previously, customer notes could be lost in a sea of booking changes. It was also hard to identify important notes in historical bookings that would be worth having the ability to view when the customer is booking or at the booking. To see more on the new design layout, see our help article here

 

We hope you are still seeing the benefits to your business in using simpleERB as your booking diary. We are excited for what the new decade and future developments are going to bring to the system. Don’t forget to check out our social pages – twitter.com/simpleERB // https://www.facebook.com/simpleERB/   As always, we are keen for your feedback on how we could improve this service for you, please get in touch (help@simpleERB.com). 

Image by Pettycon from Pixabay



With the festive season well underway, you are probably up to the eyeballs in Christmas crackers and mince pies. The last thing you want to think about is the dreaded January Blues, what a way to be a grinch! However, hear us out. 

January is renowned for being quiet and having the biggest dip in restaurant sales. In January this year, UK pub and restaurant figures were down a further 1.8 percent on last January’s (2018) collective like-for-like sales, according to RSM & Coffer Group Coffer Peach Business Tracker. RSM has attributed this dip to the growing influence in public health campaigns such as Dry January and Veganuary among Brexit and adverse weather, which undoubtedly could drop a customer’s average dining spend.

Therefore, to not let the normal sales dip go any lower and worsen the slump right off the back of the festive high, we suggest setting up a creative marketing campaign to try and use those customer January blues to your advantage. 

Creating an innovative marketing idea

In the past, a couple of restaurants have been notably innovative with their January promotions. 

Wahaca (Mexican restaurant franchise) introduced a quirky marketing campaign back in 2015 in a bid to return their highly coloured spoons by initiating an Annual Spoon amnesty in January. Customers were encouraged to bring back the spoon in return for a free plate of tacos. This was a great solution for the restaurant to regain assets and lure in customers.

A couple of years back, Liverpool restaurant Lucha Libre headed down the generosity route off the back of festive goodwill spirit, by joining up with the “Keep It Local” campaign. The restaurant donated 10% of a customer’s bill to a local church helping rough sleepers if they could show they had spent £5 or more in a local independent business, retailer or charity. This also included a 40% discount off the bill. This campaign not only encouraged dinners in with the lure of a discounted meal but also ensured other local businesses were supported.

Meanwhile this year, Yo! Sushi seized at the opportunity to ride the Veganuary and New Year health resolution mentality bandwagon, by launching the Make It! menu. It offered diners 40 dishes at £3 each and the chance to detox with 14 vegan dishes and plates under 180kcal (some even fitting in with the WeightWatchers Smartpoints plan). This was a great way to entice those diners who would not necessarily have dined in January the option head out.

You could always fall back on the classic marketing strategies such as a; 2-4-1 on mains, £1 sides to add to your meal, a percentage discount off the food bill by quoting a ‘catchy’ code name or offering return vouchers for anyone who dines with you in January. Alternately you could ask customers to bring in unwanted Christmas foods/gifts to donate to a charity in return for a free coffee or a return visit voucher discount. A win for all! 

Got a great idea, now how to implement. 

So you now have a cracking idea to win over those January customers, what is the best way to promote and monitor the impact it has on your restaurant. You can promote it with good old fashioned flyers or use the power of a social media post. However, it can be hard to be prepared for customers and manually keep track of those taking up the offer by noting it against a booking. If that is, the customer remembers to quote it at the time of booking! 

simpleERB has a great feature you can use to promote, track and source reports on your January campaign all in one with ‘booking offers’! Further information on setting these up can be found here. There is also an option to set these as private so that normal customers booking online will not be able to view this and only customers you have promoted this too can book (find out how, here). This will help to generate a mix of customer sales throughout January, as you don’t want everyone coming in receiving a discount. After creating your ‘booking offer’ and generating the private booking URL, you can then use to create an email campaign with companies such as Mailchimp or add a shortened version as a link inside a social media post. 

 

 

When the customer books the offer via the link, this is marked on their booking (can also be applied for telephone bookings) and can be easily identified in a diary or print view.  

For an email campaign, under the GDPR regulations, you are only able to market to customers who have agreed verbally with staff or selected to “opt-in” via the online booking widget. You can source your ‘opted in’ customer emails by specifying the customer category using the customer’s export report and selecting the “opted into marketing messages via email” button. It would be good practice to make sure your team is aware of the law and asking telephone bookings if they agree to ‘opt-in’,  to help increase your GDPR compliant customer database for marketing. 

By using the customer export report, it means you can generate a list of customers with the specific criteria that you wish to advertise this too. Be it people who dined in December, people you have marked as loyal customers via quick info buttons or people who in the past dined on other offers you ran. 

To promote via social media, you can add the private booking link to the Facebook or Instagram post which gives customers the opportunity to make a booking straight away when viewing.

You can then monitor the promotion within the ‘booking offers’ by viewing the allocation booked or by pulling a customer export booking report selecting to show only customers who have booked the offer. We also have the forward covers report you could pull to examine if the promotions have given you a cover boost in January 2020 compared to the bookings you had in 2019.

When you have launched your creative promotion and marketed it to your customers, hopefully, you can sit back and monitor its progress in beating those January blues. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels



You may have noticed over the last week a few recent tweaks and changes were made to the live site. Some of these are small fixes, however, we have added two new changes to improve efficiency. 

 

Widget Suspends – View only current suspends with an option to view older

To avoid a long list of historical widget suspends piling up in this setting and to prevent newer suspends from getting missed, we have updated the viewing option. Only the current and relevant suspends will be presented to you and if you require to view older suspends, you can see these via the ‘show all old suspends’ blue button.  See our article about it here for more information.

Cancellation Emails – Now sent to telephone customers

We have now set up an auto-send cancellation email to be sent to any telephone customer (with a listed email) that calls the restaurant direct to cancel their booking. This will allow customers to have a record of the cancellation.

Closed Tables – Dropbox now lists the table’s restaurant area

When closing off specific tables for certain time slots, we have added in the dropbox the tables restaurant area. This way you can easily identify and close off tables without having to remember where they are positioned.

One Button Autofill – Quickly book in a returning customer

simpleERB already has customer matches and the option to auto-fill in individual details fields, however, we have now added in a one-button auto fill. When booking in a returning customer, if you have a match from the database you can now click “yes this customer” which will quickly input all the customer details fields along with quick info and if they have opted in for marketing with a simple click of a button. See our help article here.

Deposit and Card Capture with Stripe integration – Now SCA compliant

After a couple of teething problems at launch, our Stripe integration for customer payments within simpleERB (deposits/card capture) is now in line with the new SCA (strong customer authentication) regulations. This means that customer’s payments will be processed smoothly and don’t decline due to banks not authenticating the transaction.

Report Name Change – Forward covers

We have changed the name of the Forward Bookings report to Forward Covers, as the report is showing the number of covers and not bookings.

Removing Customers Email – Confirmation email URL

In the reminder email sent to customers, the confirm booking URL was pulling the customer’s full email address. We have now removed this from view.

Bug Fix – Analog time discrepancy for last order time in dropbox

We noticed that in the ‘last order time’ dropbox on a couple of settings was showing midnight as 0 am and noon was 12 pm. We have now fixed this to show the correct time.

We are working on a few other things to improve the current settings and also have some great new features in the pipeline for the turn of the new decade 2020. We love to hear feedback and your thoughts on how we could improve the service for you, so please let us know (help@simpleERB.com)



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