Should I take reservations? This is a question many restaurant owners have asked themselves at one point or another. There is no right or wrong answer and depends upon your unique situation.
Understand How Your Restaurant Works
Before we dive in, it is first critical that you understand how your restaurant works and the community you are in. Are you a 5-star establishment? A small mom and pop diner? Are you struggling to fill seats or always finding yourself packed, leading to a frustratingly long wait for customers? What are your busiest hours?
Answering these questions is an excellent start in helping your decide whether or not taking reservations at you restaurant will benefit you and you guests.
If you have trouble filling tables, for example, then reservations are probably not the right choice.
Pro: You Know How Many Guests To Prepare For
One of the main reasons some restaurants use reservations is to help themselves prepare for customers in advance.
When you know how many guests will be dining on a particular day, you can be ready for them by prepping your staff and buying the supplies you need to avoid waste.
Whether it is just a typical Saturday night or a special day of the year, it is always beneficial to have an idea of how packed your restaurant will be.
Con: You May Not Have A Full House
On the other hand, if you have reservations and plan for a certain number of guests to show up that day, you should be aware that there will be no-shows and cancellations. It is unavoidable.
Unfortunately, these no-shows can make a huge difference in whether or not your restaurant made enough money to offset food and labor costs.
In fact, to help ensure that a customer honors their reservation, some restaurants have a “No-Show Policy” where they require the customer’s credit card number and charge a small fee if the customer is a no-show. That way, the restaurant is not left in the lurch and can accommodate other customers.
Is There A Happy Medium?
Thankfully, there is. Many restaurants around the country only offer reservations during their busiest hours in order to reduce wait time and carefully plan their food costs so they don’t over- or under-buy.
Others only keep a certain number of seats available for reservations so they can more easily accommodate walk-ins. Trust us, there’s nothing more annoying to a walk-in customer than finding an empty restaurant and being told that no seats are available!
Get A Cloud-Based POS System
If you decide that reservations work for your restaurant (even in a limited capacity), upgrading to a cloud-based POS system will help you consolidate your data, keep track of your peak and off hours, and even help you reserve tables and manage seating.