Are your restaurant’s tables working as hard as the team that serves them?

If you spent much of last year cursing over slow bookings and low midweek cover numbers, it’s time to turn up the heat on your tables.

Your online restaurant booking system is a vital part of the jigsaw, but there’s also some useful business strategies that will ensure your tables work their hardest, improve efficiency and increase the number of covers for each shift.

Discount – when you need to

Every restaurant suffers from quiet periods, and for many independents, that’s often during midweek.

Discounting is a smart move in the restaurant biz, but only when it’s absolutely required – you need to be smart about lowering your prices to avoid coming over as desperate or needlessly harming your bottomline.

If midweek is your fallow period, set up some discounts or special offers that are time-limited and only available on specific days. Hit social media with them and add them to your blackboards. Just remember to add note of the discounts to your website and online booking system, too!

Overbook (with data as your justification for doing so)

Yikes! No, really – this is a smart move, too – providing you undertake your research.

However, as a savvy restaurateur, you’ll know that there’s always a portion of bookings that result in no-shows or cancellations, and if you have a good handle on the percentage that fit into those brackets, overbooking is sometimes a risk worth taking.

If you have a restaurant booking system, it should provide reports on the number of cancelled bookings and no-shows you’ve experienced over a specific date period. Look for trends such as the days of the week on which you’re most often let down by guests.

With that data to hand, you can overbook when it feels right to do so and the result will be fewer empty tables!

Don’t reserve tables for too long

There’s nothing more annoying than when you enter your favourite restaurant only to find every free table displaying a ‘reserved’ card.

Reserving tables is an important part of an independent restaurant offering, but if you leave tables reserved for too long, you’ll miss out on vital business.

What if you reserve a table for an hour before the guests arrive and a couple enter your doors wanting a quick meal before their cinema trip? You wouldn’t normally turn that business away, so why not make those reserved table work harder?

It’s a tricky balance, but your team will soon find their rhythm with reserved tables and ensure there aren’t any awkward clashes with diners.

Ensure you have a mobile-friendly online booking tool

Most people who visit your restaurant’s website with a view to book will do so on their smartphone. If they can’t book easily, they’ll probably head elsewhere.

Try your restaurant’s website on your own smartphone. What’s the experience like? If it’s painful, lots of your tables are going to remain empty for longer than they should.

Make 2019 the year you invest in a quality, mobile-ready table booking system for your business!

Wrapping up

Like most of the tips we offer on this blog, the above are simple to implement and require nothing more than common sense and determination to become an intrinsic part of your strategy.

Here’s to a bumper 2019!