Could SMS be the answer to the restaurant industry’s battle with no-shows?

Could SMS be the answer to the restaurant industry’s battle with no-shows?

No-shows aren’t just inconvenient. They can be seriously detrimental, leaving British restaurants and pubs severely out of pocket. On average, 20% of diners fail to turn up for their reservations in big cities, according to an in-depth study on restaurant no-shows. This may be down to many factors, including the high level of competition and consumer choice, and a casual attitude towards booking commitments.

A 2015 survey by a restaurant booking system put at £16bn as the amount British restaurants are losing out on annually due to no-shows. As every manager knows, the pub or restaurant incurs costs whether the customer shows up or not, with staffing and overheads biting into the bottom line. Not to mention the loss from potential customers who are turned away.

It would seem that many restaurants, be they small independents or large chains, are turning towards a deposit scheme of some form – whether this be a payment taken in advance, or card details taken upon booking as a deterrent to diners who do not show up. For those who have already suffered significant losses through no-shows, this dramatic solution may seem to be the best option, offering at least some form of financial safety net.

But deposit schemes may not be the ideal solution, as they can come with a PR set-back. Some may be put off from booking a table in the first instance if they learn of the need for deposits, and will simply search for and choose a competitor establishment who does not demand some upfront payment. Some may worry about when and how they will receive their deposit back when they do show up – will it be immediate when they turn up or will they have to wait longer, or will it be taken off the bill (less than ideal if one person pays a deposit for a table which plans on splitting the bill)?

For those looking for a more customer-friendly means of preventing restaurant no-shows, SMS confirmations and reminders could present the ideal solution. Rather than risking offending or worrying potential customers, SMS reminders can be perceived as helpful, friendly communications from businesses looking to check in with customers to ensure that they are still interested in their previously placed booking.

SMS is a cost effective and more customer friendly way for restaurants to manage the growing issue of no-shows.

If you are interested in how SMS could help overcome the specific challenges of your business speak to one of our friendly team who will talk you through our SMS and Opentable integrations to help you make sure that your tables are always full.

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