Having worked as a Restaurant General Manager for almost two decades, bookings are one of the essential attributes to a business's revenue, turn-over and popularity status. No-shows are indeed a frustration for any restaurant owner, especially the revenue the booking would have generated, and the loss of time to turn the tables.
Listed below, are the key actions and points to take to ensure you prevent and eliminate no-shows:
1. Ensure well-trained employees are designated for handling bookings. Where possible, have a manager complete the bookings, especially those with a large PAX or who require special requirements.
2. Capture as many details about the booking, including the number of adults, number of children, time of booking, contact details, and importantly, whether the client has been to your establishment before as this will highlight the importance of building a relationship with new clients. Furthermore, it will show staff that being informed and a higher level of service is required to turn the potential client into a regular guest.
3. Develop and Implement a strict guideline on taking, handling and managing bookings and ensure this guideline is reviewed frequently.
4. Include in the guidelines the importance of 'follow-ups'. All bookings should be contacted at least 48 hours before the booking date - this will already minimise no shows, as many potential clients do indeed forget to cancel or amend bookings. It is not that the client does this intentionally, but it may be down to numerous reason out of the guests' control. In some cases, you can still secure the booking for another date and time without losing the revenue.
5. On the day of the booking, contact the guest again, and kindly remind them of their booking time. This will most certainly assist you in planning your forecast, the number of guests for the day and the required level of staffing you will need to ensure you meet your expectations.
Take Note: On days you know you are going to be fully booked, such as Valentine's and Mother's Day, include in your bookings guidelines that guests need to be informed that there is a limited time allowance for reservations. For example, 'we are exceptionally busy today and would like to accommodate all guests, and therefore we have allowed a 3 hour turn-around time for your allocated table. Please assist us by ensuring you arrive at least 15 minutes before your booking time. Thank you.'
As you can see, you have had contact with the guest on three separate occasions. By following the above steps, you have communicated with your guests, and you have, in many cases, reminded your guest of their booking. This means you have a 90% better chance of turning a now-show into an actual booking.