With Christmas right around the corner (less than 3 months….but who’s counting) and mince pies already stocked on shop shelves, customers are on the hunt for booking the festive season.

Trying to run a smooth restaurant service can often resemble a plate spinning circus act, of trying to get the right balance with staffing, food costs and overheads. Then add to the mix the busy festive season, the dreaded no shows and the last minute cancellations and you could be one plate smash away from a significant hit to the bottom line and turning into the Christmas grinch.

According to an article from Big Hospitality at the beginning of the year, an online booking platform found that “over a third of UK diners say they have failed to turn up for a reservation”. You may ask, is it worth enforcing deposits on larger bookings over Christmas to protect your revenue?

Costs of a No Show / Late Cancellations

So let’s look at the actual cost of a no show. If the no show was for example a Christmas party of 10 and we say your festive 2 course set menu spend is £/$/€25 per person, and your gross profit before staff and fixed costs is 70%  – then this no show costs you £/$/€175 and your profit (or rather contribution to costs) would be £/$/€175 if they had turned up. That’s a big figure along with the extra cost of a few merry sherries to lose, plus the loss of 15-20 min service time to confirm if the customers are actually going to turn up. 

Even if the table was to turn up but only 5 showed due to last minute drop outs, you will still be down £/$/€87.50 and the possibility of another booking of 5 that you might have earlier turned away due to no availability! So you might be thinking from crunching the numbers….if only you had taken a deposit of £10 per head to cover the basic costs for that party booking so that you wouldn’t be out of pocket.

If you are not entirely sure if deposits are right for you, we have another great post looking at the pro/cons of deposits vs. holding credit card details.

Benefits of Enforcing Deposits

So obviously the main reason for deposits is to secure and protect your valuable restaurant revenue but there are also a few other benefits. 

  • Reduce and possibly eradicate the number of no shows

By having clear deposit and booking T&C’s, it will deter parties that book for 3 or 4 restaurants at the same time before finalising their plans. This way you know these larger parties are 90% going to attend – 10% unforeseen circumstances.

  • Efficiently budget for staff and keep team morale

By knowing you are covered financially for larger bookings, you will have a better control on staff rota and not over staff. This can boost team morale by not having to let casual staff leave early due to a quiet restaurant that wasn’t anticipated.

  • Your in control of the deposit

Rather than taking full payment upfront which could discourage bookings, deposits allow you to control and decide if given certain circumstances the customers should have it returned. With simpleERB deposits, you control the booking type that require deposits along with the ability to monitor overdue payments easily with reports.

simpleERB deposits are quick and secure to set up

Deposits are easy to set up within simpleERB with Stripe integration and you can rest easy knowing customers details are safe and secure and not being left around scribbled on paper notes.

You can find below some FAQ articles with information;

If you have any further questions about deposits or would like a copy of our payment set up guide, please get in touch via help@simpleERB.com

Image source – Pixabay



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image sourceSupernico26

 

Have you missed us? Sorry for the radio silence around here the past few months, however, we have plenty of excuses if you want to hear them!

We have been working hard on updates to keep in compliance with the new European payment regulations of SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) and we have been busy developing new smaller features and tweaks to enhance the booking system for you all. 

SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) 

To make sure we are in line with SCA regulations, our tech team have been working away to ensure customer payments with Stripe integration (deposits and card capture) don’t fall through the cracks and decline payments. We did experience a couple of teething problems with the initial switch on, after hours of pre-testing behind the scenes, which unfortunately did affect a few restaurants. So you can see it wasn’t as easy as 1..2..3. However, hats off to the team as this is now live within simpleERB so you can rest easy knowing that customers deposits will now be accepted without any authorisation problems. Especially as Christmas is in sight with customers already making bookings! 

If you don’t already have deposits and card capture set up, please see this link on more information. We feel this is a valuable feature in the lead up to Christmas to help reduce no shows and secure concrete festive bookings.

Snapshot of upcoming tweaks 

We will also be sending out a new release update soon with all the new tweaks to current features to improve the system. A lot of the new updates have come from user suggestions, which we highly welcome. A couple of these changes include;

  • Quick view of advanced cancelled bookings in manager day book (keep an eye out for large party cancellations!)
  • Widget bookings default to mobile number (so customers are not adding a landline to the incorrect field)
  • Historic booking report to show report in covers rather than bookings (more accurate data for forecasting)
  • Cancellation email sent to customers who call to cancel if an email is supplied (for customer’s reference)
  • Restaurant logo now displayed on customer booking confirmations (visual branding and marketing)

Along with the upcoming release notes, we have a couple of interesting blog posts on their way to help ease the pain in planning for the festive madness. So, we are happy to say…..we are back in the ‘blog’ business.



How simpleERB can help set you up for a successful Valentine’s service this year.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, is your restaurant already taking bookings and prepared to capitalise on what could be the busiest night after the festive silly season?

simpleERB can help you make the most of this profitable day by offering:

  • a dedicated one off floor plan to maximise capacity on the day, (the most “twos”),
  • a  forecast of your covers for this Valentine’s Day compared with your historical figures in previous years so that you can plan staffing, purchasing and last minute marketing
  • a database of customers to market to in a GDPR compliant way


Dedicated Floor plan

Rather than have your regular floor setup, you may want to optimise on tables of two’s and split up your normal larger tables for either just the one night or for a few days over the Valentine’s weekend.

What you do is create a new area called for example, ‘Restaurant Valentines’ with the layout you require. Then in advanced settings use the closed area function to close out your usual restaurant area/s for these dates. In addition to that, make sure that the Valentines area was closed from now until the dates required in February and then again after these dates until a date much further in the future.

If you already have advance bookings on these Valentine’s booking dates, you will need to move the bookings onto tables in this layout in order for you to be able to close off the area.

 

 

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.

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

 

Forward Booking Reports

The forward booking report is simple but we believe it is very useful for planning ahead and forecasting.

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.

For example, you are planning on having a rose for every couple on the table. So you need to estimate how many you will need.

You can create a report which shows you how many covers you have booked as of today, for 14 Feb 2019 compared to the forward bookings you had on this date last year.

So if you find 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 simpleERBand email them to your customer base or advertise on Facebook, Instagram.

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

You can access the report at; https://app.simpleerb.com/restaurant/reports/forwardbookings.aspx

 

 

Tailor your marketing campaigns to your customer base 

If you find you need to boost your bookings, you can download your simpleERB customer list to create marketing campaigns. You can also download it specifically for customers who made bookings last Valentine’s Day.

To download your customer database, go to reports, expand the list of reports and choose customer export.

You can filter the list using various different parameters for example, you may wish to only download a list of customers who dined on Valentine’s or you may want a list of customers you have tagged with a particular quick info label.

After clicking search, you will have the option to export the list as a .xls file.

 

 

Once you have the report, you can then use this to upload to a mail marketing website.

See the link below to a helpful article on how to use your user list and us Facebook Ads with Mailchimp.

http://help.simpleerb.com/advanced-features/download-your-user-list-and-use-facebook-ads-with-mailchimp

Already advertising your Valentine’s availability on Facebook?

Don’t forget you can further target your Valentine’s dining advertising to Facebook users in your area who are similar to your customers. Use Facebook’s lookalike audience feature to do this.

Make sure you narrow your targeting to people who are in a relationship though!



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.



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