The countdown is on to the most wonderful time of the year…..the festive ‘silly’ season and Christmas Day! Over next two months for most restaurants, it will be the busiest and possibly most profitable time of the year.  Early bird bookers have probably already been making their mark in the diary the last few weeks, but the bulk of festive bookings will be jingling their bells in the coming weeks to grab a reservation.

simpleERB can help take the stress out of the booking and organising madness to ensure restaurants also have a merry time. We have a planning checklist below of various settings and reports to use that can make the whole process run ‘a little’ smoother. Shame simpleERB can’t also cook the turkey!

 

Check your Forward Bookings report

If you used simpleERB last Christmas, you can use the ‘forward booking report’ to compare your covers last year to what you currently have booked in the diary this year. Use this data to help with financial forecasting, purchasing/ordering (Christmas crackers!), staff rostering and checking if you need to increase your festive marketing if you appear to have less covers than you did at this time last year.

Three powerful ways simpleERB can maximise your profitability

Your everyday default settings might be set differently to how you want them run over Christmas on specific days/date when you have more staff on hand allowing the potential to get more people in door. For example you might want to allow more covers in at earlier dining time slot for set party bookings and a longer table turn time rather than your peak dinner times later in the evening. In our advance settings, you can control this with override max covers on time slots and the table turn time to manage specific date/day service/sittings better.

If you are going to be running sittings on the big day instead of your set time slot increments, simpleERB has a magical setting called ‘partial open days’. Here you can add different time slots you want customer to book without affecting other festive dates. A great example is, you could add two bookable sittings for Christmas Day customers (12:30 and 17:30 with a 2.5 hour table turn) to ensure no one books out with these set times. When adding in the two sittings, note you will need to make two individual time allocations making sure that your open/close and last order times do not overlap. It’s also helpful to amend different opening hours you might have during the festive season to make the most of it (you might wish to close early on Christmas Eve).

You might also wish to change around your normal restaurant layout around just for Christmas Day so that you can make areas more efficient for the larger bookings. For more information on how to change your restaurant layout, see our help article here. Alternatively open up a private function area/tables normally closed off from online booking or smaller parties to ensure you aren’t missing out on customers.

Close out dates to prevent accidental bookings

Make sure you close out  simpleERB using closed days on days you won’t be open over the festive period. This will close the online widget and removes time slots from the booking diary, so that none of your team can accidentally book a customer in that you won’t be able to take. 

Changes to widget availability

Bear in mind that customers will be trolling the internet for places to book last minute, therefore, it might be a good idea to make tweaks to your current widget availability. This could be lowering your normal max covers so that you are controlling large party bookings or increasing the minimum time between booking and arrival to ensure customers are not booking at the very last minute with warning on a busy night. Remember that you can alway close off your widget to specific dates/times and tables to help control booking flow.

Secure those large party bookings with deposit/card capture rules

If you are intending on accommodating large party bookings and want to avoid losing them to ‘no shows’ and last minute cancellations or a drop in numbers, we do suggest setting up deposit/card capture rules in simpleERB using the Stripe integration. This way you can be merry knowing that you have measures in place to secure that Christmas revenue. If you are unsure about whether you should enforce payment on larger bookings, take a look at our blog post here to help with the decision. (And deposits do help your cashflow!)

If you do enforce deposits, always remember to be vigilant on monitoring overdue deposits with reports (find out how here).

Add offers to monitor festive set menu allocations

You may have multiple fixed priced festive menus running along side your a la carte menu. To ensure you have enough Brussel sprouts for all to enjoy, in simpleERB you could utilise the booking offers setting by adding in your different menus to allow customers and staff to notify which option they wish to dine on within their booking details. Set these offers to have different booking availability you may require for specific date/days as well. You can then print out the diary with “notes” visible so chefs can quickly tally how many covers are dining on specific menus.

Use quick information buttons to be prepared for special requirements

To make certain your team are on top of any special booking requirements coming in the door, use the quick booking information buttons to mark these against bookings and view easily in the dairy view. These are customisable and can also be pulled in customer export reports. This way you can give advance warning to the chefs for any severe allergies/dietary requirements so there are no surprises

Finally, don’t forget the basics

With the silly season in full swing, it can be easy to forget the basic things to help with all bookings. Make sure you also have these points covers;

  • Staff messages – add notes to remind your team to ask customers for dietary/allergies, apply booking offers
  • Customer messages – add anything customers should be aware of about booking over the festive period via the online booking widget 
  • Revise your T&C – if you are going to have deposit/card capture or strict booking polices over the festive season, make sure you update your normal terms to reflect this


According to these statistics, in 2017 within the UK there were 86,630 businesses operating in the restaurant and mobile food service industry. With so many dining and delivery options, how do you keep customers coming back after wowing them with your service and food?

 

Restaurateurs know that it is by far easier and cheaper to get a sale from an existing customer than it is to go out and scout some new ones. However, did you know that the Harvard Business School advises that, “increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent” ? Even with the lure of increasing profit, retention is extremely important because it is these loyal customers that will provide you with regular business through quiet periods and will also help you attract new customers through recommendations.

So how can you improve your customer retention rates you may ask and build this customer loyalty? We have 5 tips below you can use with a bit of help from simpleERB. 

1) Customer Reviews

Reviews are a great way to gauge your customers experience and to also build a public rapport. By responding to negative and more importantly positive reviews, lets your customers know how much you value their comments. In simpleERB, you have the ability to control reviews internally by sending customers a review link after dining. This give customers an immediate outlet rather than going straight to social media. You can then send to positive reviews a personalised email by the tick of a button to thank them and ask them to help by reviewing on your preferred social media platform. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and by just responding to their personal experience can increase their likelihood of a revisit. See our blog post here on evidence that proves how important reviews are and our help article on simpleERB reviewing.

2)  Add personal touches to your customers’ experience

We all know how nice it is to have a simple candle added to a birthday dessert or complimentary chocolates at a special hotel stay. These extra touches are the ones that keep you going back, especially for celebratory occasions. You can add a personal touch, (that won’t break the bank), with the help of simpleERB before they even arrive by sending a personalised text message about their upcoming booking.

When making the customer booking, note down any dietary requirements or reasons for their visit within their booking using quick info buttons or notes. Have staff go through the diary view with “show quick info” option enabled the day prior or on the day and note any of these special requirements. Your staff can then go into each booking and send a personal text advising you are looking forward to; celebrating their birthday/anniversary, aware of their dietary requirements or have the high chairs at the ready with coloured pencils! This will show the restaurant you care about there booking needs and they will already have a positive vibe before walking in the door!

3) Use your customers’ booking data for tailored email campaigns

Tailoring your email campaigns to a specific criteria of your customer database, will ensure you are targeting the desired people who will maximise return and build a unique rapport with those customers. Customers are more likely to read the marketing email you have sent if it appeals to them exclusively. Think about how many company emails you receive daily that you actually open. You can easily narrow down your customer criteria with simpleERB by using the customers export report. Here you can filter customer data to; booking periods, previous booked offers/promotions and your customised quick info buttons. For example; you may wish join the band of restaurants increasing the number of vegan options in your menu. Send an email to all the customers who have been marked as vegan and welcome them to come in and try the new dishes you created for them!

4) Use booking offers for unique loyalty programs

A loyalty program or a competition are always great initiatives to entice customers to come back, which will  hopefully convert them into a ‘regular diner’. Once you have created a stand out incentive for your customers who have dined before, you can then create a private booking offer where you can send them a unique link to book their treat for being a great customer. Only customers with this link can book that online offer you have set up for them. Great example could be a free dessert on your fourth visit. Monitor this with a classic tamp card or have staff observe the customer booking history. When the customer dines for the third time, your staff could send over a personal email from within the customers booking with the link when marking the table ready. 

5) Keep on top of disappearing Customers 

Lastly and more importantly, you need to monitor those customers who are slipping away and entice them back! Like we said right back at the beginning (we’ve gone full circle), it is easier to get a sale from someone who has already dined in your restaurant. The disappearing customer report in simpleERB, which you can set to auto send each month, can help with this by being able to pull the right data. You can export a list of customer who previously dined 3 times in the year but haven’t visited in the past 3 months. Put this information to good use and set up a campaign to get them back in the door with a “we’ve missed you” personalised email along with a private bookable offer of a complimentary welcome back drink.

Apart from these five tips, you could always think outside the box and look at alternatives. This could be looking at setting up a live chat box on your website (click here to see Top 10 Live Chat Softwares ) or using messenger on your Facebook page with customer set FAQ. This allows customers to message you quickly for immediate gratification on trivial queries they might have about menus or bringing a cake which will help build a personable rapport before they even dine.

Image: StockSnap from Pixabay



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



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



black jeans on waitress

black jeans are uniform but not tax deductible

43 businesses in the hospitality industry featured in the Minimum Wage Blacklist,  including names like TGI Friday’s and Marriott Hotels. Around 9,200 workers will receive £1.1m in unpaid wages, and the employers were slapped with £1.3m in penalties.

UK Asian food restaurant Wagamama topped the list, repaying an average of £50 to 2,630 employees. The Wagamama case, however, is interesting for another reason, however.

A spokesperson for the restaurant chain blamed its underpayment on an “inadvertent misunderstanding” of how minimum wage laws apply to staff uniforms.

Front-of-house staff are required to wear black jeans or a black skirt with their branded Wagamama top. The government considered this asking the staff to buy a uniform.

The very useful AccountingWEB site observed, “The case seems to centre around asking staff to wear a particular colour or style of clothing is effectively creating a uniform, even though the items of clothing don’t have a logo and would previously be called dual purpose by HMRC.”

Wagamama said it has updated its uniform policy and it will now pay “a uniform supplement to cover the black jeans”. But it still raises the question: Can non-logo clothes be treated as uniform for tax purposes?

Another commentator said that it’s helpful to “to bear in mind that what is and isn’t pay for National Minimum Wage (NMW)  purposes is not and never was based on tax definitions”.

He concluded, “As far as I understand it, Wagamama’s failure was that they didn’t pay a uniform allowance over and above the minimum wage. They just required employees to wear certain clothing. After deducting reasonable costs of such clothing from the pay the employees were left with a net rate of pay below the NMW.

“The employer could have avoided that NMW failure by (a) paying a specific allowance for clothing or (b) a rate of pay with sufficient headroom to cover the clothing. Either way as far as I can see there’s no implication for tax.”

The simpleERB take? HMRC (the taxman) wants to have its cake and eat it too!



Is 4g a viable alternative to broadband for restaurants using simpleERB for restaurant reservations?

It is a common situation now for people to find that the 4g data speeds are better than the landline broadband speeds available to them.

4g routers are now commonly available.

We often get asked: is it ok to use 4g for simpleERB? Will it cost me a lot?

The short answer is yes, it is perfectly feasible to use 4g and no, it won’t cost you a lot.

4g data costs (as of early 2018 in the UK) about 50p to £1 for 1gb (gigabyte) and a busy restaurant doing 15,000 covers per year is unlikely to use more than 2gb per month of data communicating with simpleERB, maybe only half that. So allow 50p to £2 per month in total.

If you use more than one device you will use more but two devices won’t use twice the data.

With a typical data speed of 20 mbps (megabits per second) download and 10mbps upload, the relatively small simpleERB page sizes (one sixth to one quarter of a Mb) will load quickly.

You can try it out by using the personal hotspot on your mobile phone before you invest in a 4g router.

Always make sure to check which networks are offering the best speeds locally. As the networks upgrade their services, the “right choice” can change overnight!



 

In our last blog post  we looked at the question of whether having taken a deposit from a customer or taken a credit card number  from a customer, who was a noshow it made sense to enforce it.

We said that that question could be answered objectively by looking at the lifetime value of the customer.

Bluntly, if it was small then the logical thing to do was to enforce the deposit. That customer was unlikely to return anyway.

Here I want to look at the difference in consumer expectations around deposits and “held credit cards”,  the legal and technical differences and the PR consequences.

The main difference with a deposit is that you actually have the cash.

If the customer want it back they are going to have to sue you.

Whereas a held credit card involves you taking the money in a separate step.

If you have written your terms and conditions correctly (simpleERB gives you a template) and the customer was advised of them, say in an email confirmation via simpleERB, then legally, the now show customer does not have a leg to stand on in any legal jurisdiction (country/state) that we know of.

However,  what the customer can do, is contact their credit card company and claim that you took the money illegally. Credit card companies tend to take the customers side and withhold the payment. There is paperwork to be done.

What you need is to show the email confirmation to the credit card company and your terms and conditions. Eventually you will get your money.

You might argue that it isn’t worth fighting but if you add up all those “not worth fighting for” occasions it might come to a large sum at the end of the  year. It is a bit like giving in to the school bully.

What restaurants often forget in all the negative stuff about charge backs is that “Banks file fewer chargebacks against merchants who regularly dispute chargeback claims”.

However, it is indisputable that if you have taken a deposit you are in a much much better place when a customer “no shows” that you are if all you have done is take a credit card number.

Restaurants often take credit card numbers rather than deposits because they think it is “easier”.  What a surprising number of restaurants don’t know is that taking a credit card number and writing it down in a the reservations book is against the law in most countries. It is called a breach of “PCI compliance” and restaurants who do this are leaving themselves open to fraud by staff and possible law suits by customers and hefty fines if caught.

simpleERB allows restaurants to hold credit card numbers securely via Stripe or Paypal.

However simpleERB also makes it easy to get deposits from customers and this is what we recommend if you are going to actually “hold noshowing customers to account”.

BUT you say both deposits and credit cards will dissuade customers from booking.

The answer is yes , they probably dissuade some customers. the question you need to ask is what kind of customers. They won’t dissuade the customer who has no intention of being a  noshow.

Again, let’s “do the math” to illuminate the problem.

First of all, what is your current noshow rate?

A Wharton study showed a rate of 20% in big cities. 10% is common.

We are predicting that 10% – 20% of bookings will be no shows.

Anybody who is thinking about being a noshow is just  not going to book with you. But you don’t make any profit from them anyway. You lose money.

So in order for “insisting on deposits” to actually cost you money you have to assume that 10-20% of the people who are not thinking of being a noshow are going to be dissuaded from booking with you by your insistence on deposits. Do you think that is true?

What to do.

Firstly, not all bookings are the same. Booking for 8pm on Saturday is not the same as a booking for 6pm on a Monday. A booking for 25 is not the same as a booking for 3.

simpleERB allows you to treat them differently. See the screengrab below

 

 

 

 

 

Secondly, run an experiment. Nothing says that you have to continue with a policy if it is not working.

Thirdly, make sure your terms and conditions are crystal clear, simpleERV makes this easy. Also , have them on your website and social media, upfront. Explain the precarious economics of running a restaurant, how a now show can devastate your profits.

Fourthly,  remind your customers. Again simpleERB makes this easy with automatic email and sms reminders. See below

 

 

 

 

Fifthly, mark anyone who does  show as an offender, again easy in simpleERB, see below

 

 

 

 

Sixthly, you can always, if you want, convert a deposit into a voucher that can be used in the next 14 days. You can’t say fairer than that, fairer then this, Feuhrer than thheeth…. that’s right you can’t say fairer than that…:-)

Seventhly,  talk to your local fellow restaurateurs. If you all implement the same policy, it will get the message across.

But social media I hear your cry! The noshowers will take to social media!

Ask yourself if you have done all that you we have suggested above, how stupid are they going to look?

Charge back info here , courtesy of The Chargeback Company.

Get the one stop solution to your NoShow problems here



In the vexed question of how to deal with restaurant noshows there are two arguments.

One of them goes like this:  theatres, cinemas, airlines, holiday companies…. none of them give consumers a refund if the customer can’t make it. Why should restaurants be different? Why should they not charge at least something up front and keep it if the customer does not turn up?

Some restaurateurs have started doing this and swear by it. For example, Joff Day of  Ben’s Cornish Kitchen, Marazion, says: “Having the ability to take deposits for online bookings via the simpleERB booking system has eliminated no shows – the bane of most restaurants.”

Others think differently, like the restaurateur Keith McNally, who says: “Although we take credit card numbers for parties of five or more at my restaurants, we never actually charge the customer for not showing up. Of course, we tell them in advance they’ll be charged for not showing up, but it’s difficult to have the heart to do it. Even, as in my case, when you don’t have a heart to begin with.”

This is an emotional argument. There is a more hard headed rationale, exemplified by Sabato Sagaria of Union Square Hospitality Group, who says,  “If you’re penalizing people with a cancellation fee, it’s also probably an effective way of cancelling the relationship in the long term. If the first interaction is making the reservation and the second interaction is the cancellation fee, chances are there won’t be a third interaction.”

So who is right? Which course is right for you and your restaurant and your noshows?

Fortunately, there is some math that can help us here. Business consultants have the concept of “LTV” or to give it its full title, “Customer Life Time Value”. This is quite simple, it is the “total amount of money that you will earn from a customer”. To be contrasted with “the amount of money you will make from a single visit”.

The opponents of charging deposits or cancellation fees for now shows argue that annoying a loyal customer who doesn’t turn up by actually charging them a cancellation fee or keeping a deposit costs you money in the long run as there is a good chance they won’t come back.

This is where you need to start to categorise your customers. And for this you either need a really good memory or you need a “Restaurant CRM” (Customer Relationship Management System) like simpleERB. Of course it makes sense NOT to charge a customer who has been a dozen times in the past 12 months and is likely to keep coming. But what about someone who has never been before?

Here you need to look at the data. How many “first time visitors” become regulars?

Let’s take an example: say your typical spend is £/$/€20 per person, your average party size is 3 and your gross profit before staff and fixed costs is 70%  – then a no show costs you £/$/€42 and your profit (or rather contribution to costs) would be £/$/€42 if they turned up.

If you have taken a deposit of 50% or have a cancellation fee of 50% , then you will get  50% x 3 x £/$/€20 = £/$/€30 from that party if they “no show”.

You then run the risk that they are so annoyed with you that they never return.

What you have lost is the “LTV”.

Let’s plug in some assumptions and say that there is a 1/20 chance that they come a second time and a 1/60 chance that they come a third time and a 1/100 chance they come a 4th time. The expected LTV for that customer (in gross profit terms) is :

£/$/€  (42/20) + (42/60) + (42/100)

Which adds up to £/$/€ 2.92

Not a lot!

Certainly not enough to make you give up the deposit / cancellation fee of  £/$/€30.

In fact, for it to be worth while for a restaurant to forego the deposit / cancellation fee the expected LTV has to be more than £/$/€ 30.

That needs the likelihood of repeat visits to be very high. In fact the chances need to be something like:

1/3 chance of returning again, 1/6 chance of a 3rd visit, 1/9 chance of a 4th visit, 1/12 chance of  a 5th visit, 1/18 chance of 6th visit etc. etc.

This gives an LTV of something like £/$/€ 40.

Is this the kind of repeat visit pattern you see in your first time visitors?

You don’t need to do all the calculations, just asking your self the question, “Do one in three of my first time visitors come back a second time?” is enough.

If the answer is an unequivocal “Yes” then you should pay attention to the argument that “Enforcing a deposit / cancellation fee policy will hurt my business”.

If the answer is “No”. Then you are almost certainly better off enforcing a deposit / cancellation fee for noshows.

I will deal with the difference in consumer expectations around deposits and “held credit cards”,  the legal and technical differences and the PR consequences in an upcoming blog post.

Get  started on the one stop solution to your NoShow problems right now with simpleERB  here



Reviews are important: this isn’t so much old news to a restaurateur than the equivalent of the first book of Genesis to a restaurateur.

Still, reviews are becoming increasingly important to restaurants in new ways as traditional review websites like Trip Advisor and Yelp make way for Google restaurant reviews; now, if you Google a business, or even Google a query that will result in business listings (i.e. Italian restaurants in New York), you’ll see the business’s name with its number of Google reviews and average star in a prominent position underneath.

Google restaurant reviews

So anyone who has an interest in your restaurant will be immediately confronted with its review status. And as we said, reviews are very important.

Just how important, BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Study tells us: 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more and 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.

Google restaurant reviews

When you hear these stats it’s tempting to panic and try the quickest way to tot up those five star Google restaurant reviews you need, even if it’s not exactly legit.

Listen to us carefully: don’t do this. There are few things Google hates more than fake reviews. Don’t ask your employees to leave five star reviews. Don’t offer bribes or service in return for a glowing review. And most dangerous of all, do not pay a business or group of people to write positive reviews for you. Don’t think you’re smarter than Google. You’re not, there’s always a chance they will find out, and if they do they will ban you from the Google listings, a scenario no restaurant wants.

Google’s Review Guidelines state: “Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.”

Google is watching you. Every major Google algorithm update is usually preceded by long periods of testing, machine learning and human monitoring by Google created to combat people who are trying to scam the system.

How simpleERB can help

So what to do then? How do you accumulate those positive reviews you need and still play by Google’s rules? You do it organically by encouraging your customers to leave a Google restaurant review if they wish, something simpleERB can hugely help you out with.

simpleERB has a one stop option that allows restaurant owners to encourage customers to share positive reviews on your Google profile, as well as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook (you’ll need to be logged into simpleERB to see this feature).

With simpleERB you can add a link to the customer confirmation email which allows the customer to submit feedback to you after their meal.

When you get a good review you can tick a box on the email copy which sends them a request to share their review, along with links to your restaurant Google, Facebook and Trip Advisor profiles.

How to deal with negative reviews

P.S. More reviews for your restaurant may mean some negative reviews but this doesn’t necessarily need to be a bad thing.

Negative reviews prove your reviews are authentic, they can actually encourage trust (only relentlessly five star reviews are more likely to make customer think they are fake), they allow you to show your excellent customer service when you respond, and they are useful for feedback purposes.

We wrote in more depth about the positive effects of negative reviews on the simpleERB blog here.



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