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Are your restaurant’s tables working as hard as the team that serves them?

If you spent much of last year cursing over slow bookings and low midweek cover numbers, it’s time to turn up the heat on your tables.

Your online restaurant booking system is a vital part of the jigsaw, but there’s also some useful business strategies that will ensure your tables work their hardest, improve efficiency and increase the number of covers for each shift.

Discount – when you need to

Every restaurant suffers from quiet periods, and for many independents, that’s often during midweek.

Discounting is a smart move in the restaurant biz, but only when it’s absolutely required – you need to be smart about lowering your prices to avoid coming over as desperate or needlessly harming your bottomline.

If midweek is your fallow period, set up some discounts or special offers that are time-limited and only available on specific days. Hit social media with them and add them to your blackboards. Just remember to add note of the discounts to your website and online booking system, too!

Overbook (with data as your justification for doing so)

Yikes! No, really – this is a smart move, too – providing you undertake your research.

However, as a savvy restaurateur, you’ll know that there’s always a portion of bookings that result in no-shows or cancellations, and if you have a good handle on the percentage that fit into those brackets, overbooking is sometimes a risk worth taking.

If you have a restaurant booking system, it should provide reports on the number of cancelled bookings and no-shows you’ve experienced over a specific date period. Look for trends such as the days of the week on which you’re most often let down by guests.

With that data to hand, you can overbook when it feels right to do so and the result will be fewer empty tables!

Don’t reserve tables for too long

There’s nothing more annoying than when you enter your favourite restaurant only to find every free table displaying a ‘reserved’ card.

Reserving tables is an important part of an independent restaurant offering, but if you leave tables reserved for too long, you’ll miss out on vital business.

What if you reserve a table for an hour before the guests arrive and a couple enter your doors wanting a quick meal before their cinema trip? You wouldn’t normally turn that business away, so why not make those reserved table work harder?

It’s a tricky balance, but your team will soon find their rhythm with reserved tables and ensure there aren’t any awkward clashes with diners.

Ensure you have a mobile-friendly online booking tool

Most people who visit your restaurant’s website with a view to book will do so on their smartphone. If they can’t book easily, they’ll probably head elsewhere.

Try your restaurant’s website on your own smartphone. What’s the experience like? If it’s painful, lots of your tables are going to remain empty for longer than they should.

Make 2019 the year you invest in a quality, mobile-ready table booking system for your business!

Wrapping up

Like most of the tips we offer on this blog, the above are simple to implement and require nothing more than common sense and determination to become an intrinsic part of your strategy.

Here’s to a bumper 2019!

The post How to make your restaurant tables work harder in 2019 appeared first on Welcome Table.

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January is a time when most independents close for a much-needed rest. It’s also the one time of year where customers – after a run of heavy festive spending – tend to stay at home and not spend as much until their January pay cheque.

This means that this time of year is also the perfect time to spruce up your restaurant and get those repairs that have been building up finally fixed.

But it’s not just about essential jobs like repairs; a fresh lick of paint, new artwork and fresh tableware can go a long way to giving your customers something new to come back to (which, for relatively little cost, is always great for them and you!).

So… what can you do?

1. Paint, paint, paint!

There’s nothing worse (unless it’s in keeping with a theme), than going out to eat and being distracted by peeling wall paint and chips in the wall. It makes the place look uncared for and unloved, which subconsciously makes people think ‘well, do they care about the food?’.

It doesn’t matter if you paint the restaurant the same colours, or choose something new, a fresh lick of paint will brighten and freshen your building making it look new!

Also, don’t forget the toilets, which are often a forgotten place in restaurants. Chipped paint, mouldy grout and empty hand soap dispensers get left for another day. But everyone loves a sparkly loo!

2. The outside

The outside of your restaurant is the first thing customers see and of which they gain an impression.

Is your sign clear and not missing any letters? Could anywhere benefit from plants or accessories? Does it also need a lick of paint? Are there any old Christmas lights that really should be taken down? Are the menus clear?

Or is it simply time for a change?

3. Artwork

Whether it’s themed art, or helping out local artists by displaying their work, art can lift a restaurant’s atmosphere and provide talking points for customers. And, if you’re displaying local artists work, it can build a sense of local community and help your brand.

If you want to buy your pictures, look at antique shops for a bargain or go online for high quality prints.

Want to attract local artists? Simply put a sign up saying you’re looking to display work and contact any local art groups that might be around.

4. Glassware, linen and plates

When it’s hectic in the kitchen and at the bar, the little chips and scratches on your glassware and plates will sometimes go unnoticed, but when seen through fresh customer eyes, they’ll be clocked in an instant.

Take time to look at everything. From the tablecloths and cushions to glasses, plates and cutlery, is it all up to your standard? Or does anything need replacing?

Wrapping up

It can be a pain to get jobs done, but when it’s quiet this January and you’ve had a rest, now really is a great time to give everything a spruce up.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about it for another year!

The post Get your restaurant into top shape during the January downtime appeared first on Welcome Table.

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Evolution is natural, change is inevitable and curiosity means the food industry will always be a fast paced one because people will always want to try new things.

So, what does this mean for 2019? And more importantly, how will 2019’s trends potentially affect your independent restaurant business?

We’ve put together a few of our thoughts on what trends we think we’ll see in 2019. From zero food waste to bugs, see what you think!

1. Zero food waste

We’ve really started to see momentum this year in consumers wanting knowledge about zero food waste in their homes and expecting restaurants to be leading the way in zero food waste due to the sheer amount of produce that goes through the kitchens.

From giving surplus to charity or using peelings in creative ways, if you’re tackling zero food waste in your kitchen – showcase it!

2. Palm oil free

When we’re just one person or one business, it can be hard to see how we can make an impact on an issue that seems so far away. However, while in past years the issue of deforestation due to palm oil and the effects that’s having on wildlife and the wider environment has been largely ignored, now people aren’t ignoring it and food is at the centre of the argument.

3. Clear labelling

2018 has been rocked by national news stories of death due to unclear allergy labelling.

Allergies in consumers is on the rise, and anyone providing food not only from a legal standpoint, but also from a moral one, needs to display allergens clearly.

Forget ‘please ask your server’ signs – these aren’t good enough. Instead, take a walk around your restaurant and think like a customer; what’s the most transparent way of displaying the ingredients you’ve used?

4. Food allergies

Whether it’s down to more knowledge around food allergies, or as some have suggested, the introduction of so many possessed foods, food allergies and intolerances are on the rise. This means products are increasingly being developed to cater for those who suffer.

Within restaurants however, there’s still a lack of options available, so could you fill the gap?

5. Bugs

Now, whether the idea of eating insects appeals to you or not, products like satay cockroaches and crispy protein bug selections are crawling their way onto shelves.

With a major selling point of being high in protein, could they enjoy popularity in 2019? Would you want to add them to the menu?

Wrapping up

Evolution always brings new challenges. The above might affect you or not even touch the sides. However, to keep people coming through the doors, it’s important to know what the consumer wants and how you can accommodate that.

As for the bugs… gourmet grubs anyone?

The post 5 food trends in 2019 that will shape your business appeared first on Welcome Table.

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When people are off sick, away for their holidays or you’re having trouble finding the right people, it can be hard to always have your restaurant fully staffed.

Not having a fully staffed restaurant can not only impact your customers, but also the remaining staff themselves and, subsequently, your business.

In short, it truly is a recipe for disaster.

Here’s what can happen if your restaurant is understaffed.

1. Kitchen and floor coverage challenges

This is the easiest one to spot. Back in the kitchen, your chefs are already working long hours, but they’re now working longer and, as a result, are harder to cover.

Quality can slip, it’ll begin to take longer for the orders to come out and tensions can run high.

Out on the restaurant floor, while the servers may apologise with a smile, the customers certainly won’t be happy. They’ll see the lack of front of house staff and become irritated if the service takes too long. Complimentary drink, madam? That won’t always work!

2. Fatigue creeps in

So, with people off, your remaining staff have been working extra hard on each of their shifts to fill the gap. On the odd day, this is usually fine, but if it continues repeatedly and for long periods of time, it’s a one-way ticket to burnout and resentment.

After a while, and regardless of whether it’s true or not, staff will begin to view the situation as you, the business owner, benefitting from lower labour costs at the expense of them – or just general bad management.

Reach this stage, and the situation may become a whole lot worse as staff members begin to hand in their notices.

3. Service suffers

Have you ever been to a restaurant and something is simply… off? You can see staff having mutinous mutterings and the other diners are looking equally miffed that they too have been waiting too long for their meals. By this point, fatigue, burnout and resentfulness have fully set in and no business wants to get to this point.

How to fix it

Don’t despair – it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s several ways of ensuring the above never happens:

  • Always keep your restaurant approachable when it comes to people handing in their CVs to ensure there’s a constant stream of potential applicants. Also, put a note on your website encouraging people to apply, noting that when you have something available you’ll be in touch.
  • Assess if you can do a shorter service. While you might want to keep hold of that random table of four that comes in last minute, is it really worth it when it results in your already tired staff working late into the night?
  • Last but not least, motivate and communicate! There will always be times where things are busier, but keeping a clear line of communication for your staff will help them understand the situation. Plus, a well-done meal or drink of their choice will always go down well!

Understaffing can cripple restaurant businesses. But not yours – because you’ve read our tips above. Go forth and be the awesome restaurateur you’re capable of being!

The post 3 reasons why your restaurant should never be understaffed appeared first on Welcome Table.

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