People not showing up for reservations...

10
10
Joined Aug 9, 2000
Hello all,

At the restaurant that I work at, we have had an unbelievable amount of people who are not showing up for reservations that they have booked. An example of how ludicrous it has gotten, we had reservations for 130 on Saturday and ended up with only 90 or so.

Now, let me explain a little about our restaurant, we are a 3-1/2 star restaurant with seating in the main dining room for 90. Many of our patrons opt for the 5 or 7 course dinner that can last a few hours. So, turning the tables is not fast at all and we really focus not only on the food, but also on the service.

All of us in the kitchen knew we had a big night ahead of us, so we prepped for it, had back-ups ready. I personally ordered and broke down fish for the reservations we had. 130 amuse were painstakingly prepared for our customers. We were ready

The front of the house was ready too, we had 5 teams of two ready for the night, and we had some of those teams set for some big-tops coming in. Busboys were set and ready. Hostesses were ready.

When covers don't show up, something happens with everyone's psyche. The waitstaff gets a little teed-off when they realize that they are not going to be busy (aka not make as much money), so they get frustrated, things get mis-fired, things happen. This, in turn, disrupts the flow of the kitchen staff. We were staffed to handle the rush, we are now over-staffed. People start getting in each others way. Tempers flare, things get ugly.

Why do people not show up? Are we the only industry out there that has this problem? Think about it. If we are a business and we call for a meeting with a client or a customer and we sit and make graphs and come up with points to discuss. Perhaps, make arrangements for a lunch, etc. When that client or customer does not show up, it causes problems for the company. It is an inconvenience, to say the least. But the hours that we used to prepare for the meeting, the money spent on supplies, etc. Can cause a problem. If this continues the company can suffer greatly.

The losses for the restaurant are obvious. Loss of business means loss of revenue. We turn people away on Saturdays to prevent overbooking and then we discover that we could have easily taken those reservations. People don't work as much as they want, the morale goes down. Work performance is not as much as it could be. The consequences are endless.

Is this a problem for anyone? How do you take care of this situation?

Take care,

Paul
 
127
10
Joined May 1, 2001
This phenomenon peaked a bit over a year ago here in NYC. The idea was to make reservations at 2 or 3 restaurants, and then have the ability to chose at the last minute bassed on your mood.

The counter was that a number of top restaurants started requiring credit card numbers to secure reservations. No-shows paid the prix fixe dinner rate per head.

I haven't heard much about this since the Internet bubble burst.
 
2,550
13
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Every year, we organize an Oyster Party for our clients. Last year, we received 241 reservations but only 170 showed-up!

I think there's a lot of people out there who are just plain rude and uneducated! :confused:
 
10
10
Joined Aug 9, 2000
We tried doing that. In Chicago, people freaked out when they got their credit card bills (even though when they gave their credit card they were informed about the policy.) We do it for big tops (I believe parties of 6 and up). Chef has had some serious problems with this policy, and quite honestly, I don't know how often he charges these people if they do not show up.

I do know when we had a buy-out of our restaurant one Saturday (why can't they all be like that!!) and 51 of the confirmed 75 showed up. He did charge them for the 75.

Paul
 
1,640
12
Joined Mar 6, 2001
What happens if you accept reservations and acknowledge to everyone that it's good for a 15 minute time frame only (or what ever LIMIT you want). If you miss your reservation then it's open to walk in business. Wouldn't that encourage more business?

"Reservations only" is limiting, very limiting. I prefer restaurants that work with reservations and also work with walk-ins. If you don't seat walk-ins as seriously as reservations it really narrows your focus and your clientele. This way you fit in the millions of people who can't be certain they'll make a reservation. They'll drop by and try to get in at the last minute if they know theirs a chance (at least call). Then for the people who missed their time, they still can be seated at the next available opening. It gives everyone hope to dine at your place. NO?

It isn't perfect, but this lets everyone cover their bu-tts, and gets more people at your door. Then you get to turn back the over flow.....instead of getting stuck.
 
1,640
12
Joined Mar 6, 2001
On the same rant, my husbands work over the last couple years has stopped paying the total bill for some company parties. For their golf outting when you place your entree request you must pay for it. But it's only a small fee like $25.00 that includes the day of golf, all drinks and food and a very nice raffle, etc... Everyone at the company thinks that's outragous.....I think it's fine and actually not that bad of an idea. Before they used to have TONS of no-shows on the bosses tab. Now if you don't show you lose your money. People don't pull no shows anymore at the golf outting unless their really sick.


Caterers ALWAYS charge for no-shows, have for years. Now everyone knows and understands that. If restaurants in unison start doing that customers will get the message. Having worked in private clubs you constantly see 'rules' broken. I think it's a power game (of sorts), the more you let people get away with bad behavior the more bad behavior you'll see.

Take the 'power' away from them and use your own. You may loose some very 'elite' clients but even they will conform once they can't get their way.
 

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