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.

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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.



Reviews are important. It seems an obvious statement doesn’t it? Just how important can reviews be to your business and it’s online presence though? Well, local search for restaurants is one area that reviews can play a key role.

After reading this tête-à-tête between marketing experts David Mihm and Mike Blumenthal it would seem that in your local online eco-system (the world where search engines source their data) that the answer is very important.

You’ve probably noticed that when you search for your restaurant on google that additional information will now show in a box alongside the search results.

It seems that by having reviews (hopefully all positive!) on a multitude of sites helps your ranking in search results. This makes it more credible to search engines such as google. This article gives a good comparison between profiles receiving reviews over multiple sites rather than just through one.

The question is though, how do I get customers to review my restaurant over a range of platforms, rather than just on Trip Advisor? simpleERB has the solution for you.

using simpleERB to get reviews

Local search for restaurantsWithin your advanced settings on simpleERB, you can enable customer feedback. This means that when a customer makes a booking, they are sent a link which they can use once they have dined, to directly send you their feedback.

The first advantage of this is that you have a direct line to the customer, and they to you, meaning that if they are giving negative feedback, it should come to you first, before being posted on any well known review sites.

Secondly, you can set up your social links in simpleERB with URL’s for your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Trip Advisor profiles. These can be sent directly back to the customer along with a standard message telling the customer where they could post this review, more publicly.

Lastly, we believe that feedback, in any business is vital to improve yourself and performance. So take the opportunity to take the reviews onboard and discuss them with your staff.

All of this can be activated with just a few clicks and all of it, will improve local search for restaurants.

 



Restaurant messages for staffWe’re putting together some top tips for using simpleERB during the busy Christmas period. Firstly however, we just wanted to quickly remind you of a handy feature than can be used all year round: restaurant messages for staff.

You’ll find this useful feature in the advanced settings of your simpleERB account. It allows you to set date specific messages to display to your staff.

Easily keep staff informed

You might be running a special menu on the last Thursday of the month. The kitchen might be closing early on Sunday night. Or you might have a band on for the next three Saturday nights. Whatever the information, you can put it front and centre so your staff can keep your customers informed.

You can set multiple messages to show on certain dates. Or have some messages permanent or recurring on the same day each week.

When a waiter goes to make a booking, a visible box at the top of the page alerts the waiter to the information you have entered. This allows them to seamlessly advise the customer as they enter the details of the booking.

Restaurant messages for staff means less surprises for customers from forgetful waiters and the chance for you to communicate everything clearly and efficiently.

 



Maybe a few tables are lingering a bit too long or maybe you are lucky enough to have a plush area for guests to relax in before their meal. Either way, did you know that you can add bookings to a waitlist in simpleERB?add bookings to a waitlist

When your diner arrives, locate their booking on your screen and open the booking details screen.

On the right hand side, you’ll see a drop down menu. Open the menu and select Not yet seated – Add to waitlist. You can add the designated waitperson and the customer’s location too if you want.

Remember to save the booking.

 

When you go back to your bookings screen, you’ll notice that waitlist at the top of the page will now have a number next to it. Expand waitlist and you’ll see who is in your waitlist and how long they’ve been waiting.

waitlist-view

When you’re ready to seat them, click available tables, and choose where they are to be seated.

Add bookings to a waitlist… another simple solution from simpleERB.

 

 

 

 



customise table settingssimpleERB’s advanced settings allow you to tailor your restaurant to your exact specifications including letting you customise table settings.

The advanced table settings allow you to join tables, amend your default turn times for certain days or dates, rank your tables and close off tables.

Table Joins

Most restaurants will have at least a couple of tables which can be pushed together to make a larger table. simpleERB doesn’t assume that tables can go together but you can tell it that they do in this section. You can have as many different joins as you wish. The more you give, the better flexibility your diary will have when a booking comes in.

Table Ranking

Once you’ve added your joins, you might want to rank your tables so that simpleERB knows which tables to use first. It will automatically assign tables in the order they were added e.g. T1, T2, T3 but you might want to give table 6 away to customers first because it’s in the window and table 1 may be squeezed in under the bar, so your preference might be to only assign this table as a last resort.

Table ranking also allows you to rank table joins you have set up alongside regular tables. If you’d prefer to join two tables of two at the front of the restaurant as a 4 rather than give a table of 4 in the back to a customer, rank your tables like that.

Table Turn

As part of your setup, you’ll probably have selected a table turn time. You may have certain times however where you want to give customers a shorter stay time, say at Saturday lunchtime, when you turn tables quickly. On the other side of that, on a Saturday night, you might give customers the full evening on the table. In advanced Table Turn, you can customise different days and dates to suit your restaurant. You can also remove turn times from all timeslots.

Closed Tables

If you need to close a table off for any reason, simpleERB allows you to close certain tables at specific times. This feature could be handy for you if you don’t want to take bookings for your outdoor terrace durning monsoon season. You might also want to close out a few tables if they are being moved for an event in your restaurant or even if the table has to go for repair!

simpleERB has a wealth of features to make life more simple for you. Create your free account now and customise table settings for your own restaurant.



Your simpleERB widget settings can now be tailored even further to suit your restaurant. As well as closing times from online booking, you can now set a minimum time between online bookings being made and the customer arriving as well as allowing customers to specify if there are any children in the party.

To set up your widget settings, go to advanced settings > booking widget > configure widget in your simpleERB account.

widget settings

 

The top box on the page lets you set some general features for your widget.

display tables back by message ~ do you want the message to appear telling the customers when they select a timeslot at what time you require the table back by?

display children/infant covers on the widget ~ you can allow the customer to select how many adults, children and babies are in their booking. You can set the age ranges too.

limit future booking availability ~ here you can set how long in advance a customer can make a booking. You could only allow bookings up to a month in advance or you might want customers to be able to book for the next year. Handy if you aren’t ready to take Christmas bookings quite yet!

max covers bookable ~ an old feature in a new home. Let’s you set the largest booking size you’ll accept from an online booking.

minimum time between booking and arrival ~ you asked, we’ve added it. Now you can set how long before a booking a customer is able to make an online booking.times

amending timeslots and dates

In the bottom box of this page you can suspend specific dates or times from online booking. You’ll still be able to manually enter bookings in your system but there won’t be availability showing online for customers.

You can add these close outs as full days which are the same every week or on specific dates and times. You can also just close out particular tables.

All of your close outs show in a list at the bottom of the page, just in case you forgot that you added one!



We alluded to some big changes that we had been making a few weeks back and we’re pleased to say that many of these features have now been launched to simpleERB users in our latest simpleERB updates.

We get a lot of feedback and it’s important for us to understand how our users use simpleERB. Everyone is different and in fact just this morning we saw one of the restaurants who use simpleERB using the system in a completely different way than we had imagined. A guest list for a nightclub.

For the last 6 months we’ve been going through suggestions, developing the ideas and getting further feedback and yesterday, we added some long-awaited features to simpleERB.

Set widget on only allow bookings at certain increments

The biggest query we get from users is; Latest simpleERB updates

“Can I set the booking widget to have a minimum time that people can book online before they arrive. We get people who book and we don’t have enough notice that they are arriving”

Good news! We’ve now added to your widget settings the ability to set your widget to only allow bookings at certain increments in advance of the booking time.

We’ve also updated some of the advanced adatesdjustment menus. Some of these previously were set up so that you if you wanted to change a turn time, or if you wanted to close a date, you had to do this each day or one date at a time. Now you can amend these as a block of dates, on certain recurring days or as you were on a specific date.

New bookings view

In bookings view, we’ve added a new tab that allows you to see all of the bookings which have been added to your diary today regardless of which date in the future they are. Like an activity log. There’s also a downloadable report for this.

To give you a bit more information on a customers booking, we’ve started logging in the booking notes where the booking came from (waiter/widget) as well as leaving a note if a member of staff changes the covers on that booking.

As well as these features, there are a whole host of smaller features and improvements which we have made as well as squashing some pesky bugs that wouldn’t go away. We’ve also still got more improvements up our sleeves!

We hope these features are a welcome addition and don’t forget, if there’s something you’d like to see or if there’s something which you haven’t found clear, drop us a note on help@simpleerb.com



We don’t get a huge amount of sunshine here at simpleERB HQ in Scotland but over the last few weeks the office thermometer has soared and we’ve noticed restaurants nearby setting tables up outside wherever they can. We thought we’d give you a quick how to guide on how to set up another restaurant area in simpleERB.

The locals have been lapping up the sun with a bit of al fresco dining and it got us thinking, maybe some of the simpleERB restaurants have outdoor dining areas which they only use for a small part of the year.

Add outdoor dining to your table layout

How to set up another restaurant areaWhen you initially set up your simpleERB account you’ll add areas which will then allow you to add tables to them on your table layout. We know that some of our users leave out their outdoor terrace or seating area because of the rain in Berlin, or the snow in Tallinn but you can add these areas and close them off whenever you aren’t using them.

Once your area is set up, you can go to the area settings which is within simpleERB’s advanced settings, and close out any dates you don’t want bookings on those tables.

If you don’t want bookings to be taken online at all for these tables, you can click the no web booking button next to the tables when you are setting them up initially in table layout or tailor your web booking availability in your web widget settings, also under the advanced simpleERB settings. This leaves you to manually assign the bookings to outdoor tables as they come in and saves you the hassle of keeping track of a different area outwith simpleERB.

This method can also be used for adding bookings who are ‘sitting at the bar‘ during busy times at the restaurant. You may not want let people book these tables, but you might want to have the area and the option to place people there, to maximise your availability.

As always, if you have any questions, just drop us an email on help@simpleerb.com. And as our sunshine fades away here in Glasgow, feel free to send some warm weather our way too!

 



bookingsdisplayWe just wanted to quickly give you a sneak peak at our latest feature, deposits and credit card capture. This is one of the most commonly requested features from our users and it will be one of the biggest updates we’ve made to simpleERB.

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You’ll be able to set up deposits for certain days, dates and times dependent on cover size and you’ll also be able to capture credit card details for customers which you may wish to use in the future if they book in advance.

Customers will be able to pay the deposit securely online and you’ll be kept in the loop through simpleERB if the booking is up to date.

We’re currently BETA testing this but we were so excited about it, we just wanted to let you see what we had been up to over the dark months of winter!

 

 

 

 



Good customer feedback, no matter which industry you are in, is like gold dust. Nowadays, where everything is done online, more and more consumers use the internet to make decisions, based on someone else’s opinion. Whether it be which TV to splash out on, which brand of beans to get at the supermarket or which restaurant to visit at the weekend, potential customers will often turn to the internet to make an informed decision.

get customer feedback

reviews 2simpleERB allows you to get reviews from customers instantly. When the feedback feature is enabled, your booking confirmations, which are emailed to the customer, contain a link, asking them to review once they have dined. This gives the customer a direct outlet to you, the restaurant owner, where they can make any comments about their dining experience.

Once they complete the feedback, a copy is emailed to you and it can also be found within the reports section of simpleERB.

reviews 3When viewing the review in the reports section, you’ll notice a tick box in the bottom right hand corner of the review. If you select the tick box, you’ll be able to automatically email the customer with a pre-written message which could ask thank them for the review and direct them to your Trip Advisor or Yelp profile, where they could make their review public.

avoid bad press

Of course, nobody’s perfect and you might not get 5/5 from every customer. Allowing customers to feed back directly to the restaurant can help to avoid negative reviews appearing on review sites and allow you to sort any problems directly with the customer, rather than getting into an online spat!

Sign up to your free simpleERB account now. You’ll find the customer feedback options in the advanced general settings menu.



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