Posted on January 25 2022
In recent years, the restaurant industry has dynamically changed the way it works to meet the constantly changing needs of diners. One such change is the gradual shift of restaurants from being primarily walk-in to becoming more reservation-based.
Although walk-ins still include a big chunk of a restaurant's customers, recent reports have shown that over 50% people prefer pre-booking their tables. With the growing trends of dining out, people prefer having guaranteed tables so that they don't have to wait in line for their turn, or worse, be disappointed and have to leave all together. Diners have also started prioritizing good service as one of the most important aspects of a memorable dining experience, and waiting in line is definitely not a part of that.
The introduction of reservations, however, has added another woe to a restaurant manager's job - finding the best way to manage reservations. Should you use a physical pen & paper approach, or invest in a reservation software? How do you balance your walk-ins with your reservation and ensure maximum revenue? How do you combat issues like no-shows that affect your restaurant's performance? The questions are endless.
Just like everything else, there is no "one-size fits all" approach when it comes to reservations. In this article, we will decode everything you need to know about managing reservations at your restaurant to improve revenue, maximize table turnover, and take your restaurant to the next level.
Does your restaurant need reservations? The first and most obvious question to ask is - does your restaurant actually need reservations? Although there is no simple or straightforward way to answer, a few factors can help you determine whether your restaurant fits the bill for reservations.
- Style of Restaurant. Is your restaurant more on the casual or formal side? Fancier, fine-dining style restaurants are usually more in need of a reservation system. No one wants to go to a high-end restaurant for a special occasion and end up having to have to wait in line, it's part of the guest experience. On the other hand, guests might not mind waiting for a few minutes when visiting a casual restaurant with a more relaxed environment.
- Popularity. If your restaurant is a crowd-favorite and always has people queued up outside, you may want to consider putting a reservation system in place, regardless of whether it's a casual or a fine-dining restaurant. Reservations can help you capitalize on the buzz and cater to a wider audience without losing any diners.
- Size. If your restaurant has many tables and can accommodate a large number of diners at a time, chances are that your table turnover is very quick and you may not need reservations. However, if your restaurant has limited capacity, taking reservations can be pivotal in helping you use your floor to its maximum potential and serving as many guests as possible.
Pros and Cons of Taking Reservations
Even if taking reservations seems like a no-brainer for your restaurant, it's important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of it before you take the leap.
Advantages of Restaurant Reservations In simple terms, reservations allow guests to book their table at a restaurant in advance for a chosen time. But for restaurants, reservations can do a lot more.
First up, they you cater to the growing market of diners who prefer having pre-booked tables, making sure you don't miss out on any customers.
Reservations also make it easy for guests to know when they’re supposed to arrive, which makes your dinner service run efficiently. If you organize things correctly, your customers will be seated as close to their allotted time as possible, resulting in satisfied patrons that are sure to return.
They’re also helpful when you’re preparing the floor layout for service (especially when dealing with larger groups). If you’re running a restaurant and you know how many people are coming in advance, you can plan your tables accordingly –arrange eight- and fifteen-seat tables for larger parties like a group of eight or more, for instance.
Moreover, knowing how many customers you need to feed can help your kitchen staff, servers and hostesses better plan for their needs. If the reservation schedule indicates that the floors are going to be packed, the chefs and waiters will have a fair warning to be ready for the incoming crowd at a specific hour. Hostesses accommodating walk-in guests will be able to space the seating times so that the regulars don’t have to wait in a queue. This not only helps relief the pressure from your staff, but also helps them be better prepared and provide excellent guest experience even during peak times.
Guests are also likely to provide their contact information while making a reservation, which enables restaurants to build a strong guest database that can be used for future marketing and promotions.
All in all, reservations play a vital role in improving your restaurant's overall performance.