28/04/2016 - Posted by Emily Healey
Last week we focused on how online booking systems are helping restaurants serve their customers. This week we’re exploring the other side of it, by taking a look at the many ways these systems can benefit restaurant staff. Like any good piece of business software, the right online booking system can be used to take some of the pressure off of your staff and help you gain valuable insight into, and access to, your customers. A good system will be intuitive and easy for staff to learn to use. It can function purely as an online booking system or be part of a more complex software package that can organise and coordinate many different aspects of your business from ordering to rostering, payroll and more. Even with a simple online booking system the benefits are numerous and can totally change the way you run your restaurant.
Online booking systems are a great help for restaurant staff. Directing even some of your bookings through the online system means staff don’t have to worry as much about handling bookings over the phone, which can be especially inconvenient during service. Even when the bookings are taken over the phone, an online booking system is much easy for staff to check than the traditional handwritten reservation book. Instead of sifting through a list of bookings in order of when they were taken, a well-designed booking system will layout everything you need to know in the clearest way possible including free tables, the best time to make new bookings, when you definitely can’t fit in another booking and more. You or your staff can even choose to limit the times when bookings can be made in order to stagger visitors and deliver better, smoother, more controlled service.
An online booking process can also help you ensure there are no last minute no shows. When making a reservation online customers get on the spot confirmation of their booking. Many people have their calendar connected to their email so when you send them the confirmation of their reservation via email they can easily add it to their calendar. Email also makes it really easy for them to share the details of their booking with the other people coming with them so everyone knows when and where they need to arrive. You can even have your system send booking reminders at certain intervals such as a week prior for advance bookings, or the night before or the morning of for closer bookings. Even if for some reason they can’t make their reservation after all, having the reminder makes it far more likely for them to remember to let you know they’re cancelling, which means you can free up the table so you don’t lose any business.
Naturally, happier staff and customers are great advantages for any business, but there is another huge benefit that online bookings provide, and that is information about and access to your customers. When customers make an online booking their information is entered into your database, often information you wouldn’t get if you were just taking the booking over the phone. Their email address is one of the greatest assets you will gain which, if the customer permits, can be used to send targeted marketing material including promotions or special events for your restaurant. The customer can choose to provide information on any dietary requirements or preferences they have as well as let you know about any food allergies. As well as using this information to keep your customers safe and accommodated, it can also help you see if there is a market for certain menu changes such as increasing the number of vegetarian options. All of this information you gain can be used to create a better dining experience with more attentive service and encourage repeat business.
With a user friendly online booking system in the hands of your staff, your business can run at its best. By controlling when bookings are made, easily being able to see where you can squeeze in more customers when you open up the booking schedule, and reducing the amount of empty tables due to cancellation or forgetfulness, your staff will be able to provide better service for more diners with ease. Plus, every time your system is used by a customer to make a reservation you learn more about them and gain a new way to connect with them. There are many ways an online booking system can benefit your staff and these are just a few. Every restaurant is different but the right system can be made and modified countless ways to work the way you need it to. Once set up you’ll forget how you ever ran your restaurant without it, and as your business grows and changes it will be there with you.