Are you a restaurant owner for a small, independently owned restaurant? If so, you’re probably looking for ways to effectively manage reservations and private dining opportunities. Managing reservations on busy holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, is especially important. In the U.S. the biggest date night of the year has a gross spend of around 8 billion dollars. Here are five basic guidelines for managing reservations and maximizing space at your restaurant so that you can increase profits on Valentine’s Day and other busy holidays.
1. Develop a Plan for Managing reservations and other changes
The first step is listing the expected changes. For example, during Valentine’s Day and other busy holidays, you’re more likely to have more more smaller groups of two take up much more space in your dining room. That’s why you need to prepare. Ask your employees for their input, so they know they’re part of the team and are involved in the plan as well as in finding . Other solutions can include implementing reservation technology, adding extra servers, changing the floor plan to facilitate couples, etc. Valentine’s Day presents challenges, but if done right, can be an oasis of profit amongst an otherwise slower season.
2. Break Up Tables into Twosomes
Because Valentine’s Day is about couples, see if you can break up the larger tables in your dining room into more two-tops. Also, you can assume that most of your Valentine’s reservations will be slated for evening hours so try staggering your reservations. Designated seating times for couples, such as at 6 o’clock and 8 o’clock can also be an effective strategy. Doing this allows enough time for couples to enjoy a romantic meal, while still maximizing all the space in your restaurant.
3. Managing reservations with an online system
Having a comprehensive restaurant reservations system your restaurant much more accessible. This is especially true when you use online booking through an app or on your website. In fact, 36 percent of customers contend that the most critical technology features any restaurant can offer is an online reservations system. Technologies such as TableUp offer comprehensive reservation management and customer loyalty software.
4. Use an Experienced Staff
In addition to ensuring you have enough staff members, it’s essential that you have your most experienced employees working on Valentine’s Day. In other words, this isn’t the time for trainees. Servers who are highly knowledgeable and experienced know how to juggle several tables at once so that everything runs smoothly. Furthermore, an experienced staff knows more about upselling cocktails and desserts, as people typically spend more on a Valentine’s Day meal. Consider offering incentive programs through platforms like Tipzyy to push employees towards providing an even greater restaurant experience.
5. Create Privacy for Private Dining
If your restaurant doesn’t include a private room, you can still promote privacy just by using some creativity. To make tables more private, you could use cabinets, bookshelves or even stand-alone shelves to serve as dividers. Using shelving is especially effective, as this offers a way to creatively arrange cookbooks, knick-knacks, or other items that can give a space more character or personality.
Other Considerations and Warnings
- Be careful not to overbook reservations. It can be tempting to fill up all your tables, but this can be problematic. Consider how a table showing up late or having to sit for a longer time period than normal can affect your restaurant reservation chain. As a result, your restaurant will get a bad reputation for having to wait too long for a table.
- Consider that if you become sick, it’s important you give at least one person on your staff everything they need to know. Besides notifying staff members, use a CRM that supplies valuation information that may be forgotten by staff members.
- Some of the trendier restaurants use email reservations, which has both pros and cons. One advantage is that it can be good for fine dining as it offers more personal communication. A drawback is that you could be accused of favoritism.
- Use exceptional lighting—while some couples are impressed by lavish spaces, others prefer cozier tables. But it’s lighting that ranks at the top of the list for promoting romance. Consider how it’s hard to be romantic if your restaurant lacks good lighting. Perhaps you can try adding candlelight to set the mood. If that seems like too much of a hassle, wax LED candles can be a fine alternative. Another suggestion would be to try colored bulbs, like red to evoke romance and passion.
- Designate a private dining manager. If you’re just starting out, it may be best to use a person currently involved in management for handling this position.
These are just a few tips for managing reservations, utilizing space and increasing your profits. Dining Alliance knows what independent restaurant owners need. For more information on how we can help you, contact us.