Handling no-shows at restaurants

Handling no-shows at restaurants

No-shows can have an enormous effect on business, especially those within the F&B sector. Almir Ambeskovic, CEO of TheFork, looks at ways restaurants can minimize the number of clients that simply don’t show up.

In a no-show situation, a customer does not honor their reservation. Without warning, they do not turn up for the activity or service they have booked. This practice affects the F&B sector, the hotel industry, the medical community and countless other businesses.

If the possibility of reserving lunch or dinner at a restaurant online offers customers greater freedom, failure to keep this reservation promise can be viewed as symptomatic of our society. Acceleration of the pace of life, excessive consumerism, the dehumanization of the provision of services and the absence of good citizenship are inherent in our current lifestyles and can often lead to a no-show. There are no typical profiles for this type of practice; it could be a busy couple with too many things on the to-do list who forget to call and cancel, the individual who views the reservation as an option or the shy customer who doesn’t dare call the restaurant to cancel for fear of disturbing the staff or being reprimanded. No-show rates also depend on the culture, being higher in Latin America than in the Nordic countries.

But the no-show, beyond a simple incivility, has direct repercussions on the activity of the restaurant: loss of turnover, disorganization of the service and food waste, to name just a few.

It is because of such negative consequences that online reservation systems like TheFork have become important, tackling no-shows with cross-sectoral action plans supported by concrete and effective measures. At TheFork, the application of the plans have made it possible to reduce the no-show rate by 31 percent overall. Among the noshow customers who booked through the platform, 90 percent did not repeat their behavior during the following six months.

Email and SMS reminders
By confirming reservations through e-mail and SMS, customers will be reminded that they must cancel if they are unable to make it. Sending a message on the day of the reservation helps customers remember to cancel if they can’t make it. Facilitating the cancellation process for the customer is imperative so that this gesture becomes automatic: one click on the phone to cancel. It’s easy, saves time and benefits both the client and the restaurant. If no-shows still occur, others measures can be taken, like sending users a message reminding them this behavior is problematic and forbidden. Moreover, if a user constantly harms a restaurant by repeating this behavior, their account can be suspended. At TheFork, there is a dedicated team to handle repeated no-shows.

Management software programs, like TheFork Manager, can offer restaurant owners the opportunity to use a reliability meter for each customer. This tool allows them, for example, to leave a client a comment explaining that they have not turned up in the past and to be aware if they are planning to book again. Credit cards to secure bookings On top of these measures, one of the most effective tools to secure the reservation is the credit card imprint option. The best insurance against a no-show is to bypass the problem altogether by making customers pay in advance, leave a security deposit or by taking a credit card imprint. Using the credit card imprint decreases no-shows by 65 percent, as the client knows that if they don’t come, they will lose money. While the no-show can still take place, the adverse effect on the restaurant is less marked as the business receives compensation. These safeguards, implemented at different stages of the process, aim to make the customer aware and accountable while reintroducing the human touch within a dematerialized relationship. Furthermore, it is fundamental to shed light on this topic through campaigns that explain the consequences of no-shows on restaurants, especially in the current challenging conditions. The restaurant industry has experienced a tough year because of the pandemic and needs more support than ever to welcome guests again.

Almir Ambeskovic,
CEO of TheFork

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