How to combat “no shows” in your restaurant

July 2020

How to combat “no shows” in your restaurant

It’s certainly been a busy time for the hospitality sector since reopening on the 4th of July. According to CGA, a third of English consumers have returned to restaurants, pubs and bars in the first 10 days after reopening, a welcomed re-start to our very important industry.

However, there have been recent reports in the media that many restaurants are experiencing “no shows” from customers who aren’t turning up to their booked table, without notifying the restaurant. This weekend, for example, there were an alarming 27 bookings that didn’t show up at the Corinthia Hotel in central London, none of whom called ahead of their due visit to cancel.

Sadly, this type of behaviour is always going to exist. However, there are things that you can do to minimise the amount of “no shows” in your restaurant, especially at a time with your revenue is critical:


Confirm that your bookings are still coming

It may be useful to spend some time at the beginning of each working day calling your bookings to see if they are still planning on dining. Engaging with the customer allows you to have the foresight of a cancellation and also gives you the chance to rebook the customer to another slot if they wish to do so.


Make a note of customers who have tried to book on full days

If you have a customer who wants to book on a day that’s fully booked, it may be worth adding them to a “reserve” list in case you get any cancellations. This may help fill any gaps that appear in your table plan.


Take a small deposit when people book

When a customer books, taking a small deposit from them over the phone may just give you the reassurance you need. The deposit can then just be removed from the customer’s bill at the end of a their meal. You can also set a time frame in which the customer would need to cancel to get the deposit back should they no longer want their booking – it is usually 24 hours.


Advertise to passers-by that you have availability

If you find you need to fill your seats quickly, it may be an idea to advertise to passers-by that you have tables available. This can be done either with a poster in your window or an A-Board outside your establishment. You never know, a peckish-pedestrian may just pop in.


Utilise technology

Many restaurant booking systems have built-in tools that can send reminders to customers. If you’ve invested in one of these solutions, check if this is possible with your provider and see if you can set up automated reminders to customers. Consider using platforms like StreetPin to inform people in your local area that you have availability.