Welcome Table | Restaurant Booking Engine & Restaurant Reservation System
Welcome Table is a UK based all-inclusive online table booking system for restaurants of all sizes. It empowers restaurateurs to better manage their bookings, diary and capacity as well as providing would-be diners with real-time booking availability.
Social media is a great marketing tool. Any business should utilize at least one platform to promote themselves and whether you choose to stick to simply free posting or go down the paid advertising route, when done properly, social media is an asset.
However, have you ever been scrolling through your phone and seen some truly odd content? Or an ad that makes you feel simply bemused?
When done wrong, social media can easily make or break a restaurant business. An inappropriate response to a complaint on TripAdvisor can ruin a brand or a sexist campaign will cause outcry.
The fact is, much like your front of house staff, social media is the face of your brand. And just like your front of house staff, if you have a bad day on it, you’ll soon know about it.
So, what can you do? What should you avoid? And mainly, how can you be making the most of it?
We’ve put together our three favourite tips to help you. It doesn’t matter if you’re already using social media, or trying it out for the first time, these tips are something everyone should be thinking about.
1. Choose your platforms wisely
Like a well reduced jus, a great social media channel needs time and great content. There’s no point in chucking a load of random content onto every single platform, because it won’t work. Doing that is too time consuming and the content is stretched too thinly.
The best thing you can do, is choose one or two platforms and focus your time on those.
For food businesses, picture-based platforms like Instagram are a must!
2. Quality over quantity
The more refined and engaging your content, the easier it will be for people to engage with it and want to come back for more.
Taking a quick snap of the commie chef making the staff’s cheese sandwich lunch, for instance, isn’t going to be very interesting.
But a short video on how to plate up your new seasonal main, will be! Why? Because you’re not only showcasing some delicious food, your showing people how they can do it and therefore creating an interaction with them.
3. Know what you’re doing
The biggest mistake a company can make with their social media is getting an unqualified and inexperienced person to do it.
Social media needs a strategy that’s in line with your goals and brand. It’s the voice of your restaurant online and, for many guests, the first experience they’ll get of your business.
Getting the intern who’s only been in a day to run it isn’t the wisest choice – trust us!
Done well, social media is a golden ticket and there’s so much you can do and explore on various platforms. Heck, some people have made fortunes on these platforms!
But don’t go in blind. Do your research. And once you’re ready, dedicate time and passion to it because the rewards will pay off.
Keeping employee turnover as low as possible in a restaurant is no easy task. Indeed, the hospitality industry is known for its churn when it comes to personnel.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to lose the best talent if you’re a restaurateur; it just means you need to work harder to keep them engaged with the business and loving what they do.
This is where the annual employee review comes into its own. It gives you the chance to find out what is and isn’t working for employees, praise them when they get it spot on and guide them in areas where they can improve.
The benefits of annual restaurant employee reviews
If you’re not convinced that employee annual reviews are worth it, we’ve got three reasons they’ll be some of the best time in which you invest as a manager.
1. Employee satisfaction is a business winner
If your employees are happy in what they do and relish coming to work for each shift, they’ll generate more business for you.
Happy restaurant staff are infectious and will encourage guests to return if they provide a particularly memorable service.
2. You’ll grow as a manager
We all need to keep learning if we’re to improve our career prospects and develop our skills. It’s no different for restaurant managers; in order to grow within their role, they need to learn from the staff they manage.
An employee review provides you with the best opportunity to learn what the restaurant could do better to help its team and how your management style is either working – or otherwise.
3. You’ll all feel better
A big part of employee reviews centres on reward and recognition, and when you get to that part of the meeting, both you and the employee will leave the room in high spirits. And that counts for a lot.
How do conduct annual reviews
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that employee reviews are worth your time, and with that in mind, here’s some quick-fire tips on conducting reviews that will have a positive impact.
Be prepared. Go armed to every employee review meeting with performance stats and any customer feedback that relates directly to that employee.
Feedback and set goals. Balance your time in the meeting between providing feedback and setting goals for the next twelve months. Don’t focus too heavily on one or the other – they both need ample breathing space.
Don’t let the financials dominate. Unless there’s a specific reason to raise someone’s salary or provide a bonus for above-and-beyond work, try and keep wages out of the equation. The important thing for this meeting is current performance and goals; financial rewards will always come later.
Don’t lose it. If you have to provide poor feedback to a certain employee, avoid getting emotional about it – even if you’re particularly cheesed off. Stay cool, let them have their say and work out a way (together) to fix the situation.
We’ve scratched the surface above, but if you’re only just starting out in restaurant management or have had the sudden realisation that staff reviews are long-overdue, our tips should help, big time.
Don’t fear staff reviews – relish them! The more you enter that room with a smile on your face and positive mindset, the more likely it is to go well.
When running a restaurant, there’s really only two choices of how you want your kitchen when it comes to your customers:
There’s pros and cons to both, because both affect the ambiance, the restaurant’s brand, your layout (when it comes to the available space), how it makes your chefs feel and how it affects the service… to name a few.
However, when there’s an open plan kitchen in sight of customers or a window looking in to where the magic happens, it’s important to have a few rules. Why? Because the kitchen can be a hectic place and a one by which customers are fascinated. So, if there are any slip-ups, it’ll be for all to see.
To help, we’ve put together a few tips to help if you’re planning on having a kitchen that’s in sight, or already have one.
1. Watch the language!
The typical chef stereotype is someone who has a short fuse, loves a swear word and revels in a bit of ‘banter’.
Professional kitchens are hot, busy and don’t help with the above, but not all chefs should have that stereotype slapped on them.
However, an accidental burn or a plate being sent back for “no good reason” (in the chef’s eyes), could cause a passionate chef to voice their opinion, and in an open kitchen, that opinion will be for all to hear.
2. Be pristine
Kitchens should always operate to the highest standards of health and hygiene, but when on view and being scrutinized by eagle-eyed diners, if anything’s wrong, they’ll pick up on it.
A shiny, constantly wiped down kitchen will do wonders in the eyes of diners as it shows how clean the establishment is and how much care is going into their food and the surroundings in which it’s being prepared.
However… a leftover spillage or the use of a tasting spoon in the soup more than once will cause complaints and potentially an unpaid bill.
3. Don’t forget to smile
In the world of restaurant cooking, service is a time for concentration and focus, but often chefs can forget to smile and show that they’re still doing what they love most.
Going back to that ambiance, if every chef is serious and stony-faced, then the diners will pick up on it and that could potentially affect their experience.
If they see the chefs concentrating but also having fun with it, then diners will simply feel content. They’ll know their food is being prepared professionally and by people who care.
Sometimes it’s appropriate to have a kitchen that’s visible to customers and sometimes it’s not. It all depends on your brand and the space you’re working with.
But there’s nothing better than seeing someone pull and spin pizza dough or plate up a delicious looking meal.
So, if you’re thinking of a change or already have an open plan kitchen, don’t forget about the above. Because it could make or break your business if it’s not executed properly.
Life is all about choices. The pair of shoes you put on each morning; the colour for the bathroom feature wall; the latest boxset on which to binge. We encounter them all the time.
The same goes when it comes to eating out. Think back to the last time you booked a restaurant table; why did you pick that particular establishment?
The reasons aren’t always that obvious. Sometimes, it’s led by a desire for a specific type of food, while sometimes it might be off the back of a rave review from a friend.
If you’re a restaurant owner, understanding why diners choose your establishment over the competition will enable you to refine your service and capitalise on what people love about the experience you deliver.
Here’s a few reasons diners might opt for your restaurant when booking their next meal out.
You make it easy to book
There’s a lot to be said for convenience when it comes to buying or booking anything in the digital age.
When dining for pleasure, people don’t always have a solid idea of where they want to go. The geographical area may have already been defined, but the destination could be swung by something ridiculously simple.
Often, this will come down to the ease with which the table can be booked. For instance, if Mrs Jones finds two potential eateries online, both of which look good aesthetically and appear to have great menus, she’ll probably opt for the one that has a clear ‘BOOK NOW’ button on every page of the website.
It really is that easy to sway people towards your restaurant, so if you’re currently lagging behind in the online table booking stakes, now might be the time to invest in a decent system.
You’re active on social media
Sometimes, it pays to get there first when it comes to the booking experience for your restaurant. And by that, we mean proactively reaching out to potential diners and putting the idea of heading out for a meal tonight firmly in their minds.
If you’re active on social media and invest occasionally in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you’ll stand a greater chance of drawing people towards your restaurant.
With PPC, you can create highly targeted advertising campaigns that appear in front of your ideal customers. So, what may have been a standard night in for some soon becomes a booked table at your restaurant – and that’s before the competition even get a look in!
Some people want to be able to bring their dogs to restaurants. Others want plentiful gluten-free and vegan options. An increasing number of people even expect delivery or takeaway to be an option at traditional restaurants.
Modern diner expectations may raise a few eyebrows among those in the restaurant biz, but if you’re willing to cater for as many bizarre or mundane requests as possible, you’re more likely to raise the number of covers you serve each week.
Don’t fancy having dogs in your restaurant? Why not look for an area that could be turned into a pet-friendly zone (perhaps the bar, for instance)?
Menu devoid of gluten-free and vegan dishes? Speak to the chef and ask them to start researching!
Delivery service seemingly beneath you? It might be time to rethink – particularly with services such as Deliveroo continuing to redefine dining for many.
You can be ultra-accommodating at your restaurant – if the desire is there. And, if it is, you’ll win over plenty of happy customers.
We’ve only scratched the surface above. If you’re a restaurateur, what tactics have you employed to direct the attention of diners onto your establishment? Get involved in the comments, below!
Running a restaurant is constantly treading a fine line of margins.
Wrongly price a plate, and you could be out of pocket. Getting a plate sent back, you’re probably not breaking even.
Throwing out perfectly useable vegetable ends and meat trimmings? Then you’re definitely throwing money in the bin because those odds and ends are the ticket to feeding your profits…
So, how do you tackle it and start reaping the rewards?
With some restaurants making food waste their main menu, it can be done, and we’ve put some helpful tips down below.
Without the knowledge, your staff won’t be able to spot potential food waste money-makers and they certainly won’t understand why the reduction of food waste is so important.
By investing in your staff through training, you’ll be empowering them to take the initiative and help the restaurant succeed, whilst also protecting the wider environment.
While it might be an initial cost, the money will soon be recouped and put straight back into profits!
2. Smart menu choices
An ever-changing menu means you can shop seasonally and locally, which will already be a win in the ever-conscious consumer mind.
However, it also means that if an ingredient isn’t available, or a delivery is missed, you can shift the menu around to suit, thus saving food and stress.
By not committing yourself to rigid meals, you’re giving yourself, and the produce, flexibility. You’ll also find the chefs becoming more and more creative with their dishes – and you might stumble across your next classic!
Where possible, make things like stocks, sauces, purees and pickles using the leftover vegetable scraps and peelings.
Animal bones can be used to make meat stocks and, from fish bones, fish stock. Leftover animal trimmings can also be minced and turned into a range of delights.
What’s more, potato and vegetable peelings can even be made into crisps and served alongside breads or, if you have a bar, as a tasty lunchtime snack.
If that doesn’t work, think of actually making food waste into some of your main options! It doesn’t have to be every dish, but it could certainly be a tasty special.
4. Food waste monitoring
It might sound dull, but food waste monitoring is the perfect way of keeping track of what’s happening with the leftovers and seeing if there’s any patterns or opportunities.
For example, you may still find yourself throwing away vegetable peelings even after you’ve used as many as you can elsewhere in the restaurant. What if there’s a local charity who’ll take them off you for their community café? Or a local farm who’ll use them for animal feed, perhaps?
The environmentally-aware era in which we find ourselves means there’s more and more initiatives to help restaurants with their food waste, and food waste monitoring might be the key to finding those that best suit your operation.
While it might take a bit of time to find what works for you and your restaurant, there’s no doubt that the investment in utilizing food waste is worth it for both your profits and the wider environment.
When margins in the restaurant biz can be so tight, why not give yourself a little breather?
It’s a super-busy Saturday night and you have a fully-booked restaurant for the entire shift.
Everything seems to be completely fine – until Peter fails to show up for work.
You give him ten or fifteen minutes, but there’s still no-show, and no call from him to apologise or explain why he’s running late.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘no call, no show’ in the restaurant business, the unexplained absence of a particular employee is a big problem, no matter how busy you are. It creates tension among the team and means you probably can’t deliver the level of service you desire.
So, how do you deal with this kind of scenario?
Start by doing the obvious thing – call the employee who has failed to turn up.
Hopefully, this won’t be the case, but there’s always a chance something might be seriously wrong, and it’s better to treat that first call as one whose intention is to check they’re ok.
Consider if it’s habitual
This might be a one-off, in which case you can probably settle your mind a little that there won’t be any repeat occurrences, but when an employee fails to show up, it’s worth considering whether or not this is becoming a habit.
If it is, take a look at when they tend to be absent or late. Is it on particular days of the week? Maybe it’s when the restaurant is likely to be at its busiest. Or does it appear to be linked to the presence of another worker?
Knowing this stuff will help you approach the employee pragmatically and should help you get to the root cause of the issue.
Explain the consequences
You know the consequences of someone failing to show up for work, but do they? Probably not.
For every minute they’re not occupying their role, that employee is putting a strain on service. Tables will take longer to turn around and guests may become perturbed by the length of time it takes for each course to arrive.
Lay out the consequences clearly to the employee. If they’re a good worker, deep down, they’ll realise they’ve screwed up.
Give them a chance
If you’ve just come off a particularly hectic shift following the absence of the employee, it’s understandable that you might feel somewhat angry, but try not to let that show too much during your meeting with them.
Explain how disappointed you are, but make it clear that you want to give them another chance. Unless this is the latest in a series of no-shows, they deserve that, and the best restaurant staff often rise from periods where they make mistakes.
Ask if there’s more to it
This is a tough one, but as the business owner you have every right to ask.
There might be a deeper reason for the staff member’s absence – particularly if it is habitual (see above). What’s more, that reason might have nothing to do with the restaurant itself – it could be something that’s going on in their personal lives.
Some people will open up when quizzed on this, while others may stay silent. And, while you can’t pry into people’s private lives, if you make it clear that you want to help them, you might just discover what’s really going on.
No one wants an unhappy restaurant team, so if you start to experience regular no-shows, make sure you act quickly before things get out of hand.
It’s amazing how restaurants and food are central to most celebrations in people’s lives.
Friend and family gatherings in a favourite place, proposing at the top of a skyscraper eatery, and of course, a romantic meal on Valentine’s Day all hold special memories for people.
So instead of adding a chocolate fondant to the menu and pink chalk to the specials board, go the extra mile and work your restaurant into your customer’s memories so they come back, again and again… and again.
It’s great for them, fun for you, and brilliant for your reputation! So, we’ve put together some hints and tips for you.
1. Pop the question
If your customers ring to book, ask there and then if there’s anything extra they’d like to make the night even more special.
After all, what’s the worst they can say?
Maybe table decorations, a favourite wine already on the table or is there a particular seat they’d like? It might even be a song request for your playlist that will make this particular night out a night to remember.
But what if the booking originated from your website? No problem! Take the time to give them a call and ask the above.
It sounds simple, but that extra effort will make your diners feel valued and already put them in a good mood before they’ve even entered your restaurant.
2. Have fun with the menu
It’s always a good idea to keep your restaurant’s signature dishes on the menu on a night like this, but don’t be scared to add in some extra-special options, too.
Think about the fun dishes like oysters and pomegranates for that ‘aphrodisiac’ flair. And don’t forget to showcase that on the menu with some tongue-in-cheek descriptions!
Also, think about showstoppers and sharers; dishes that really get a couple eating together.
Fondue, platters, chateaubriand, squash and pecorino wellingtons all for two; think about the dishes that bring people closer together over a shared love of food (and each other, of course).
3. Add some sparkle
There’s nothing worse than the tacky decorations that Valentine’s Day seems to attract in certain restaurants – however well intentioned – or the extremely overboard décor put in place by the more fanciful eateries.
Forget filling the place floor-to-ceiling with balloons and streamers – go for elegance this Valentine’s!
You don’t have to spend much, either. Small amounts of table pearl or sequins on the table look great and make your diners feel like you want them to have a great night just as much as they do.
The same goes for candles and flowers. Pure white tapers or tealights in jars all add to the atmosphere (and beautiful flowers add to the romance).
Reputation and word-of-mouth can make or break a business, so taking the time to make your customers feel valued should be up there on your priority list.
Plus, is there anything more satisfying than seeing past diners return again and again, as they form their special memories in your restaurant?
Remember when running a successful business relied on a great product, engaging marketing, competitive pricing and unbeatable service?
Well, things have changed considerably. Research suggests that 88% of school students believe social and environmental issues should be priorities in business. This is partly why ‘going green’ is becoming an increasingly important thing for firms in any sector.
If you run a restaurant, you’re in the perfect position to establish your green credentials and make them a key differentiator that will draw in more business.
Here’s seven quick-fire tips for becoming a green restaurant this year.
1. Start composting
Let’s begin with the nitty-gritty. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, composting is a great way to reduce greenhouse gasses and food waste.
It’s easy, too – just keep a separate bin in the kitchen into which staff can chuck food waste, and dump its contents into an outdoor compost bin every day.
2. Use sustainable furniture
There’s lots of ways you can become greener as a resultant that don’t involve food. The furniture, for instance, could be purchased locally from companies who up-cycle and recreate furniture from what would have been waste material.
The same goes for your napkins and tablecloths. The amount of washing they demand means you’re unnecessarily putting a strain on the environment. Instead, why not opt for paper-based materials that can eventually be recycled?
3. Conserve water
Your restaurant will get through a huge amount of water each shift, and conserving water is becoming increasingly important for environmentally-aware businesses.
There’s a few ways you can do this. For example, you could switch from bottled water to in-house filtration and replace your toilets with water-saving variants that reduce the amount of water each flush uses.
4. Go organic at the bar
You may already have introduced organic ingredients for your food menu, but what about the bar?
There are some wonderful organic wines that don’t rely on the same environmentally-harmful farming practices as regular wines. And you know what? They taste fantastic, too!
5. Abide by the three Rs
Reduce, reuse, recycle; these three Rs are the letters every sustainable restaurant should live by.
There’s so much you can do with them, too. Bar mats that are made from 100% recycled material, reusable cups and even chlorine-free recycled toilet paper will make a huge difference to your green efforts.
If you’ve got the space for it (a small back garden area will normally suffice), there’s little excuse not to start growing your own fruit and vegetables as a restaurateur.
Buying from third parties – even if they’re sustainable – still involves transport of some kind, and we all know that indirectly raises one’s carbon footprint. But grow-your-own, and you can bask in the glory of tasty natural goodness that has only travelled a few yards to reach the kitchen.
7. Reduce food waste
One of the most impactful things you can do as a restaurateur is reduce your food waste. Because, boy, is there a lot of it in this industry!
To avoid adding to this, invest in digital inventory software, donate your surplus food to charities and make sure the kitchen team work closely to expiration dates. It’s much easier than you might think!
Going green as a restaurant isn’t difficult, but it does require patience and a dogged determination to be more environmentally friendly. We hope our tips above help you do just that!
Share your own green tips in the comments section, below:
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!
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.
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?
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?
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!