The Pros and Cons of Reservations
Posted on December 26, 2013
In the war waged between reservations and walk-ins, restaurant owners are often at odds over which path the right one for ultimate profitability. But just like having chocolate cake for breakfast or spending all day cuddling a puppy instead of grinding away at work, there’s a good and a bad that comes with every decision you make for your restaurant.
Before you go out and spend your hard-earned money on a fancy reservation book or a pack of restaurant pagers, consider the pros and the cons of taking restaurant reservations before deciding what’s’ best for your restaurant.
Pros for Taking Restaurant Reservations
Exposure to more customers
Opening your restaurant to reservations means you’re reaching a much bigger pool of customers. Websites like opentable.com even allow patrons to reserve a spot with the click of a mouse. That’s the power of the internet in action, folks.
Better Planning, Better Flow
Think of your reservation book as your magic predicting-the-future device that lets you to know exactly how many hungry customers are showing up and when. This allows you to gauge how much food to prep and regulates the flow of the restaurant so you can do more important things like eat chocolate cake or cuddle with puppies.
Reservations allow customers the comfort of knowing exactly when they’ll be served. The customer may be so relaxed, in fact, they might give their dog an extra treat that night, who in turn is much nicer to the mailman the next morning, who in turn delivers your Christmas presents that much faster. It’s a win-win for man and dogkind, everyone.
Cons to Taking Restaurant Reservations
Let’s say there’s two reservations for a table on a Saturday night—one at 7:00, the next at 9:30. The 2 ½ hour block should be plenty of time for the first table to eat, drink and get out of there, but unfortunately the patrons got involved in an intense discussion regarding the series finale of Full House and stay until 10. At this point, it’s damage control regarding the later reservation.
When a table opens up at 6:30 but you have a reservation at 7, that’s 30 minutes of business you’re missing out on. Though it may not seem like a big deal, it certainly adds up over the course of a month.
There are countless reasons why customers bail on their reservations—perhaps their car died, or maybe they started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix and simply let themselves slip away in a Wi-Fi induced coma. Be sure to have a policy in place for how long a table will be held for a reservation. When taking the reservation, be sure to take down a number to call so you can give patrons a courtesy ring to let them know how much time they have until the table is given away.
Alternatives to Taking Restaurant Reservations
A growing trend in fast-casual restaurants, call-ahead seating allows customers to put their name on a list shortly before arriving at the restaurant.
Reservations for Large Groups
Some restaurants only accept reservations for larger parties to take advantage of bigger orders.