Forward bookings in simpleERB

In our latest release (15.5.1) we have one feature that we would like to talk about in more depth. This is “Forward Bookings”. It is a simple report but we think it could be very useful to you in your planning.

It allows you to compare your forward bookings for a period on a given date, usually “today”, with your forward bookings for the same period last year, or in previous years.

An example would be:

You are doing your planning for Xmas, what extra staff do you need, how many Xmas crackers to buy etc.

You can now create a report which shows you how many covers you have booked as of today, for the period 01 Dec 18 to 31 Dec 18 compared to the forward bookings you had on this date last year for the period 01 Dec 17 to 31 Dec 17.

So if you see that you only have 85% of last years bookings, then you now know that you probably need to do some extra marketing, create special offers in simpleERB and email them to your customer base.

If however, you see that you are 25% up, then you will need to recruit more staff than you had last year and certainly buy more Xmas crackers!

As a next step you can look at your cash position in the previous period and make informed estimates as to what it will be in the coming period based on the data from this report.

You can get the report here if you are a simpleERB user



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

Last year, one of our users, Allium by Mark Ellis, came to us 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 layout

how to add an extra area

What 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.

use it again

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!



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’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.

 



If you’re looking for an alternative to ResDiary to reduce restaurant no shows, a curse for restaurateurs, here’s how to reduce them 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.

Does it work? Yes! Here is one of customers talking:

“At Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion, we started taking deposits using the simpleERB booking system. No shows virtually vanished overnight. We’ve had no complaints and no wasted seats. We’re very happy!”

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



Working in the restaurant trade, there’s a good chance that already, you’re getting a bit fed up with Christmas. Sure, the restaurant might be busy for the whole of next month, but it also puts a strain on your staff that isn’t there for the other 11 months of the year. Don’t even mention those friends who want your chefs opinion on the best way for them to prepare their Turkey. Like you have time for that!?!

Thankfully, simpleERB has a lot of features, many which are perfect to get you through the festive period. Since last year, we’ve added deposits and credit card holding to our features with Christmas being the perfect time to start using it.

istock_000052847742_xxxlarge

Take deposits easily online to prevent payments getting lost or forgotten

simpleERB now lets you set up rules so that on certain bookings, customers are required to make a deposit payment on their reservation. You can set this up to be for parties of a certain amount, at particular dates and times or for all bookings. The rules are easy to switch on and off and you can have multiple rules for different amounts running at the same time. You can also choose if you want to charge a blanket amount or if you want to charge a set amount per cover.

If customers book online through your simpleERB widget, they will be advised about the deposit and that the booking is provisional until the deposit is paid. You can set up in your rules a date by which the deposit needs to be paid and any unpaid deposits will be clearly shown in your diary. Customers are sent a link via email where they can enter their card details which means that you and your staff don’t need to handle any card details keeping them safe and secure.

We handle payments through stripe and you can set up an account with them quickly and easily.

We can ensure there are no accidental bookings on your closed days

Use the simpleERB closed days feature to make sure your diary is completely blocked off on any days you are not open. This not only removes your availability from the booking widget but also completely removes timeslots from your diary, meaning none of your staff can add in an accidental booking you won’t be able to take.

We can allow you to be flexible with your Christmas availability hours

The simpleERB partial opening function allows you to split your opening times on certain dates. Perfect around the festive period if your restaurant operates ‘sittings’ on busy nights. Also ideal for amending your hours on certain days, for example if you are finishing early on Christmas Eve.

We can help keep your staff updated with extra Christmas info

You can use your simpleERB message function to add staff notifications to specific dates, such as reminders to advise customers you are only serving your festive menu or that deposits are needed for large bookings for December dates. The messages appear at the top of your diary page as well as at the top of the customer details page when entering a booking.

We can prevent empty tables

Can’t afford an empty table in your busiest month of the year? Add some booking reminders so simpleERB automatically sends a message to a customer to remind them they’ve booked a table in advance. You can send these by email or by SMS. If you need to buy SMS credits, drop an email to help@simpleerb.com

Of course, simpleERB isn’t just for Christmas, it can make your restaurant run smoother all year round. To give us a whirl, sign up to simpleERB (it’s free for small restaurants and easily affordable for bigger ones)

Oh, and if those friends are still going on about how to cook a turkey, ask them to give this a try.



%d bloggers like this: