Category Archives: Restaurant Tips

Why is TripAdvisor important?

Your TripAdvisor ranking is immensely important for your Restaurant business. A single bad review could put a customer off your business even if you have a good average. In the same way, a good ranking can generate a large amount of new customers.

The dream is simple, Top ranking Restaurant for your area, Good average review and good recent reviews. Sounds daunting, to keep reviews consistently good, and even getting customers to review you in the first place.

Why is TripAdvisor so important?

TripAdvisor is huge, it’s the world’s largest travel site, receives 260 million unique visitors a month spends a huge deal on advertising and is established. Customers will go to TripAdvisor, it is inevitable. This makes it hugely important for your restaurant business. You need to keep reviews positive to not dissuade customers, but you can also attract countless new customers by having good reviews and a good profile.

Customers go to TripAdvisor to find restaurants. TripAdvisor is an important source of new customers. People will search for the top ranking restaurants in an area they are visitor or someone new to try. The top 10 in an area get the most hits, so do the top ranking restaurants of different cuisines.

TripAdvisor builds trust, Facebook friends, and friends of friends alter rankings. Their profile pictures appear next to the restaurant they have reviewed, the rankings are reordered based on this. When a customer sees someone they know having reviewed a restaurant they will have a sense of trust in that restaurant.

Customers read reviews before going to your restaurant. TripAdvisor is the number one restaurant review website, so customers will naturally end up there. People want reassurance that going to your restaurant is the correct decision and they will enjoy their visit. Your TripAdvisor profile will be the first third-party information the customer will receive about your business. You can shout all the praises you want on your own website, people know how biased it could be, and will trust TripAdvisor to be impartial.

Return customers check that your restaurant is still receiving good reviews. Even when you have won a new customer, they will still read reviews to decide whether to come back. Your restaurant still needs to be more appealing than the competition.

Top Tips for Restaurants Reservations

Online, Telephone and Walk-in Restaurant Reservations

This blog post will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various restaurant reservation methods, and will give some top tips for restaurants when considering how to take table bookings.

Should you take restaurant reservations at all?

Firstly, lets look at some pros and cons of taking restaurant bookings.

Disadvantages:

  • Absent customers / no shows lead to loss of revenue
  • Holding tables when customers are late for reservations also results in revenue loss
  • Changing party sizes involves reshuffling tables around to accommodate them

Advantages:

  • Special occasions often wish to book ahead
  • Planning bookings ahead often leads to better customer service as staff are prepared
  • Customers get a sense of good service if they are greeted and seated quickly, rather than enduring a long wait
  • Taking table reservations allows you to naturally build a valuable customer database
  • Accommodate large parties which often leads to more revenue directly; and even indirectly via word of mouth

Overall, I’d say taking table reservations is important, but there are various methods you should consider, which we’ll be discussing now.

Walk-in bookings

Although most reservations are done over the phone or online, during busy periods it may become necessary to maintain a waiting list.

The benefits of keeping a table waiting list include reducing table turn around times, which both increases efficiency and believe it or not, can encourage new customers to give your restaurant a go. This is unofficially referred to as the “busy restaurant theory”, which applies to many walks of life; customers assume that the restaurant must be good if it is busy, and others are willing to wait to be seated. It’s all about psychology I guess. Or is it simply logical?

The disadvantage of keeping a waiting list is the management and floor space required to keep customers entertained. Finally, if poorly managed, uncertain / inaccurate waiting times can often irritate customers and cause them to leave. This may lead to customers never returning…

Online Table Reservations

One of the main concerns with restaurant owners when it comes to the use of online restaurant reservations is whether or not it encourages no-shows.

Based on a recent study carried out at a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Sheffield, we found that in fact no-showing customers, are not a major concern.

Often restaurants request deposits or credit card details to reserve, however, this can discourage even those who are genuinely looking to reserve online, or by telephone. This problem is particularly the case for smaller, less well known and independent restaurants.

How can restaurants discourage / prevent no-shows?

One method which has been adopted by many restaurants now days is to replace credit card details upon reservation with other customer information such as:

  • email
  • telephone number
  • postcode

This is said to discourage customers from not showing up for table reservations, or at least it encourages them to give the restaurant notice of the cancellation in advance.

Online table reservations are the perfect way to build a customer database, excusing you from the laborious tasks involved in maintaining a list of customers manually. This of it like this:

The customer is providing their data entry services AND bringing you custom to your restaurant.

It also reduces the chances of spelling mistakes, which are too common when taking telephone bookings.

One thing to consider when using an online reservation tool is that you need to ensure that you have tables available to accommodate the party at the time they have reserved. Teapot Table offer a solution to this problem with their restaurant management system and online table booking module.

Online table booking enquiries are completely different to online reservations. Flat form enquiries should be discouraged as they require staff time, and require lots of work for a relatively low conversion rate.

Instead, the customer should be able to see if a table is available on a given date for a given party size at a given time on your online booking module. Teapot Table’s booking module provides just that.

Telephone reservations

Telephone bookings are necessary, but can often result in miscommunication in terms of spelling customer names, telephone numbers, dates and times.

It is recommended that the customer is reminded about their booking via a confirmation email at the time of the booking, followed by a reminder a day or two before the sitting. This allows the customer to double check the details are correct, or contact the restaurant if necessary to amend them.

Teapot Table’s dashboard provides restaurant employee with a simple data entry system which automatically populates customer specific fields if it detects that the customer already exists in the database. The advantages of this are:

  • Speeds up the telephone reservation process
  • Clearly shows availability to staff so they can advise over the phone
  • Checks spelling
  • Validates emails, telephone numbers etc
  • Sends the customer an automatic confirmation email.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to table reservations, is that it is all about customer service and satisfaction. Building a customer database is just one of the perks…

Common restaurant mistakes when designing table layouts and table configurations

Restaurant’s often find themselves changing their table layout to improve services by trial and error. This will inevitably result in mistakes. Here we discuss some common restaurant mistakes.

This blog post will discuss the benefits and drawbacks with regards to flexible and not so flexible table layouts and configurations.

Firstly, here are a few common mistakes that restaurants make (sound familiar?):

  • Change the configuration and table layout, along with table numbers, but forget about reassigning confirmed bookings to the new table numbers.
  • Change the table configuration in such a way that it is difficult to maneuver around customers during the service.
  • Changing restaurant table numbers can confuse service staff members such as waiters and waitresses if they are used to a particular layout. This can slow a service down dramatically.
  •  A poorly designed restaurant table layout can mean that seat allocation is inefficient, meaning that you will not make the most out of your potential capacity.
  •  Poorly designed table layouts require lots of reconfiguration throughout the service causing disruption to customers.
  • Restaurants often make bad choices with regards to furniture. Picking the right table shapes, sizes and weights are crucial.  A bad choice of table shape means that catering for varying party sizes throughout the service is challenging. This is due to the limited ability to combine tables to create custom sizes.

All of the above mistakes can lead to customer disruption, which ultimately leads to the loss of customers and loss of revenue.

Restaurants need to strike a happy medium between layouts which either:

  1. Require lots of reconfiguration, causing disruption to customers during service.
  2. Cater for a large range of party sizes however are restricted to prevent flexible reconfiguration.

By designing a restaurant floor plan which is both easy to reconfigure around customers, and also well thought out enough to cater for most without reconfiguration, you are half way there.

However, we still have one obstacle to overcome; the time it takes to decide which tables to allocate.

Teapot Table now provide an advanced table allocation module which is fully configurable. You simply submit all of your physical tables, and then add the tables which are used in combination with others to cater for larger parties. We call these “virtual tables”.

With the new Virtual Table module, online, telephone and walk-in parties are allocated tables automatically, taking into account confirmed bookings at that time.

This allows staff to free up their time, and concentrate more on customer service and satisfaction. It also prevents double bookings, and shows staff, if necessary, which tables require combining in order to seat a party, even before they arrive.