How Restaurant Scheduling Apps Work & Why You Need One

January 12, 2021

Table of Contents

Next time you decide to eat at a nice restaurant, take a minute to stop and observe the staff. 

Servers running and taking orders. Kitchen staff trying to keep up with the seemingly endless stream of food tickets printing. Managers attempting to keep some kind of order throughout the dinner time chaos. All for you and the other patrons to have a tasty meal delivered to your table in a timely manner.

It’s safe to say that the restaurant industry workers have a whole lot on their plate. No pun intended.

choosing-customer-friendly-restaurant-scheduling-app

 

When you add to that chaos the ongoing task of dealing with reservation scheduling, you quickly end up with restaurant staff and management wondering where all the time has gone. And it’s easy to see why. Spending time answering phones and booking reservations during a busy dinner rush can be incredibly detrimental to providing a great customer experience. This pileup of tasks and little time to get them done is likely a contributing factor to why employee turnover is as high as it is

With all that said, the question remains: What can restaurants and cafes do to remedy the problems associated with more traditional restaurant scheduling?

Three words: Restaurant scheduling apps. 

Now, before we dive into why a restaurant scheduling app is vital to the efficiency of your establishment, let's take a quick dive into the different types of restaurant scheduling and the history of reservations in general. 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling Methods

traditional-restaurant-scheduling-methods

 

With the advancement of technology over the years comes many different methods of scheduling. Not just in the foodservice industry either. All industries from hair salons to DMVs have followed scheduling trends, with many switching to a digital or online method. 

The question remains: If you’re currently employing one of the more traditional forms of restaurant scheduling, are you fully aware of what you might be missing out on with a restaurant scheduling app? 

Chances are the answer is no. 

But what are these “traditional” methods of restaurant scheduling we’re talking about?

Well, there are three used commonly throughout the restaurant industry:

  1. In-person
  2. Over the phone
  3. Email

In-Person

This method, while highly personal, is one of the more inconvenient restaurant scheduling methods out there. With how busy people are these days, in-person scheduling just doesn’t make sense. This is probably why you hardly encounter anyone walking into your establishment in order to schedule a reservation.

With email and phone calls being as prominent as they are, we’re certain that restaurants these days aren’t forcing customers to book their reservations in person. And if they are, it might be time to look into a new method.

Over the Phone

While phone call restaurant scheduling is likely a little more convenient for customers than the in-person method, studies have shown just how much people can’t stand using the phone. It’s often seen as a pointless, time-consuming task and can still feel more invasive than say, scheduling their reservations using a restaurant scheduling app. 

The main point here is that while you can still maintain a more personalized experience for the customer, it’s still inefficient and intrusive for customers. 

Email

Email reservations are just as self-explanatory as the two methods we’ve discussed previously. They’re reservations done by email, obviously. 

The email method avoids the inconvenience factor associated with in-person scheduling and the invasive nature of phone calls. However, as beneficial as email reservations can be, there’s still a better method of restaurant scheduling available. 

What is a Restaurant Scheduling App?

So with all this talk about how great restaurant scheduling apps are, surely there are some people out there who are wondering what we’re talking about. 

At their core, restaurant scheduling apps offer customers the option to book reservations online on their own, without the need to speak to restaurant staff or management. 

Regardless of the other features involved, a restaurant scheduling app holds this functionality at its core. However, some other features that you could potentially find in a restaurant scheduling app include:

  • Table management
  • Online payment methods
  • Automated customer reporting
  • Analytics features

When evaluating restaurant scheduling apps, it’s important to look over the features they include and make sure you’re getting exactly what you need for your establishment. 

Restaurant Scheduling Apps vs. Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

restaurant-scheduling-apps-vs-traditional-restaurant-scheduling

 

Even after making it this far, you might be saying to yourself:

“I’ve been using these traditional scheduling methods without any issue. Why should I change it up now?”

And that might be true. Maybe you’ve been using phone calls to handle your restaurant scheduling and it’s been going alright so far. 

However, just because something has been working out for you doesn’t mean there isn’t a better, more efficient method. 

Thankfully, we’re here to show you exactly why traditional restaurant scheduling methods are outdated and how a restaurant scheduling app can greatly benefit your business in the long run. 

Missed Reservations

For a busy restaurant, not much can affect your bottom line more than missed reservations. In fact, up to 20% of reservations end up being no-shows in bigger cities. Not exactly great numbers. 

Think about it. You turn away some walk-in customers because you have every table in the house booked, only to discover that two tables completely no-showed their reservation a half-hour later. Now you have two empty tables with no one to fill them. 

With traditional restaurant scheduling, the only way to avoid this is with manual reminders. This would involve calling each and every group before their reservation. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Chances are, you’ve already got enough to do without having to place dozens of phone calls. 

So, what about the alternative?

Well, with a restaurant scheduling app, you’ll be able to automatically send reminders to your patrons before an upcoming reservation. These reminders are typically sent in one of two ways, depending on the customers choice:

  1. By email
  2. Over text

 

When booking the reservation, the customer can choose whichever they prefer. Convenient for them, and a relief for your staff, not having to manually reach out to every individual customer and all. 

 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

Restaurant Scheduling App

Missed reservations become the norm without reminders

Cuts down on missed reservations

Manual reminders require time and effort from staff

Reminders are automated, meaning you won’t need to delegate staff to this task

 

Overbooking

restaurant-overbooking

 

Similar to missed reservations, overbooking can cause a significant problem for your restaurant. Overbooking is simply booking more reservations at a specific time than you have tables or space in the restaurant. This usually isn’t done on purpose and is typically a mistake when staff try and handle too much at once or attempt to pencil in reservations during busy times.

Now, we can hear you already: “But my staff never make this mistake. We’ve been taking reservations for 5 years now and never overbook!”

Again, this might be true. Maybe you’ve got an incredibly diligent staff who take the extra time to ensure that every reservation is entered correctly and that every table is properly accounted for.

Chances are, though, that you’ll likely run into this issue sooner or later when using traditional restaurant scheduling systems. 

Human error is inevitable. Mistakes happen. It’s understandable. However, if they do happen, it can cause more severe damage than you think. 

Overbooking causes two main problems:

  1. You miss out on immediate business from customers who thought they were getting a table
  2. It paints a negative picture of your establishment as a whole

The revenue lost from a customer having to walk out due to overbooking is only the tip of the iceberg here. Much more detrimental is the chance that they’ll leave a negative review of your business, or tell their friends about the less than stellar experience they had. Whether or not a negative review is justified here is a separate issue, but the sad truth is that negative reviews have been left for less.

Here’s the kicker though. All of this is completely avoidable with a restaurant scheduling app.

Restaurant scheduling apps don’t allow you to overbook. Once available slots are taken, customers simply cannot book for that time slot anymore. Problem completely solved. You avoid the headache of lost revenue and poor customer reviews. 

In short, mistakes happen. It’s part of life. However, when they’re this easily avoidable, there’s no excuse.

 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

Restaurant Scheduling App

Overbooking caused by human error can lead to lost revenue and poor customer reviews

An automated booking system doesn’t allow patrons to book reservations if tables aren’t available

Staff Efficiency 

restaurant-staff-efficiency

 

It’s been mentioned a couple of times throughout this article that traditional restaurant scheduling is wildly inefficient when it comes to the management of staff. 

After all, if staff are forced to take reservations over the phone, for example, they actually need to be physically present in order to make the reservation. If you’ve ever been to a busy restaurant during a dinner rush, you know that time is nearly always in short supply. There’s never enough time to manage the pile of tasks that need to be dealt with. 

So, what if you could remove this task altogether? What if the staff member who normally tends to the phones and handles reservations was free to complete other, more pressing jobs?

Could the stock room finally get the deep clean that it needs? Maybe you could add an extra server to help get food to the tables quicker? The possibilities are endless!

Well, the reality is that with a restaurant scheduling app, this is completely possible. 

Because customers are left to book their own reservations via an online booking form or a mobile application, you remove the need to involve staff members in the booking process entirely. All they need to do is check the reservations for the day and ensure that the restaurant is ready. Sounds like a dream for restaurant owners, doesn’t it?

In the foodservice industry, extra time is beyond valuable. Thankfully, you’ll be able to gain tons of it with a restaurant scheduling app. 

 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

Restaurant Scheduling App

Requires staff to physically record all reservations, taking time away from other tasks

Customer self-booking means that staff are free to spend time on other, more pressing issues

Customer Experience

happy-customers-at-a-restaurant

 

While this may be a bit more superficial, the customer experience and how it relates to your reservation booking method is important and relevant. A proper online booking system can actually help grow your business.

Think of it this way. If most of your competition are using phone calls as their primary method to book reservations, wouldn’t you want to stand out? Doesn’t it make sense to implement a restaurant scheduling system that makes your customers feel even more at home and cared about?

With a restaurant scheduling app, you can gain an edge over your traditional scheduling system used by your competition. Since most business processes are moving online, you’ll be seen as a restaurant that not only keeps up with trends but also offers a seamless booking process that customers will be thankful for. In fact, up to 47% of people have suggested that online reservations are much easier than any other method. 

It may be a small edge over your competition, but it’s an edge nonetheless. And since customers are vocal about enjoying the ability to make reservations online, you owe it to them to provide them with what they want. 

 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

Restaurant Scheduling App

Classic reservation system offers nothing in the way of an exciting or customer-centric experience

Presents a much more polished reservation system, giving an edge over the competition

Reporting and Analytics

How are you tracking your customer numbers each day? Do you print off a long piece of paper from your ticket machine which shows every last order and have to manually record each of these into an Excel sheet?

End of day, week, and monthly reports can be a chore without a proper restaurant scheduling app. Most of it is done manually and is likely one of the most hated jobs in the entire restaurant. 

What if we told you there was a better way? 

With the right restaurant scheduling app, this type of reporting is done automatically. You don’t need to worry about collecting this data and recording it yourself.

What’s more, many restaurant scheduling apps offer analytical features, providing you with valuable data such as:

  • Customer demographics
  • Staff performance
  • Customer history
  • Performance by location (for restaurants with more than one location)

For example, with Skiplino Lite, all of this information is available from one clear and concise dashboard. You can then use this insight to further your marketing efforts and drive more customers to your restaurant. 

 

 

It’s safe to say that reporting and analytics likely aren’t at the forefront when it comes to restaurant scheduling apps. However, once you learn just how valuable this data can be, you’ll understand why we’ve decided to include them as a reason to make the switch. You simply won’t regret it. 

 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

Restaurant Scheduling App

Restaurant reports must be recorded manually

Automatic reporting helps to eliminate an entire task

Offers no analytical data

Analytics, such as customer demographics, come standard with an effective software

Contact Tracing

contact-tracing

 

While this may only be valid during our current pandemic situation, with how much damage it has done to the foodservice industry, we feel it’s worth mentioning. 

Most restaurants now have to track who has been in and out of their establishment due to COVID. The most common way to do this has been with the classic pen-and-paper log book. 

This is an inefficient method for two reasons:

  1. This data is incredibly easy to misplace
  2. Customer information is easily viewable by other patrons, making privacy an issue

With a restaurant scheduling app, not only is your customer data safe and impossible to lose, your customers can rest easy knowing their contact information is kept private from other restaurant-goers. 

So, even though the pandemic isn’t going to last forever and this point may become irrelevant in the future, the pandemic has become such a normal part of our lives that this point should definitely be considered when evaluating your restaurant scheduling methods. 

 

Traditional Restaurant Scheduling

Restaurant Scheduling App

Contact tracing forms are easy to lose

Data is secure and impossible to lose

Privacy is an issue since one customer can easily view another customer’s contact info

Data is kept private and not viewable by other patrons

Restaurant Scheduling App Summary

By now, our hope is that even if your current restaurant scheduling system has been working out, you’re intrigued by the benefits you can receive from a proper restaurant scheduling app. 

At the end of the day, restaurant scheduling apps aim to make your life as a restaurant manager much easier. 

From eliminating entire tasks to collecting vital customer data that can be used to drum up more business, the benefits of an effective restaurant scheduling app are priceless. When you throw in the fact that many customers are beginning to view online reservations as a necessity, it becomes a no-brainer. A proper restaurant scheduling app is vital to gaining an edge over your competition.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time for an upgrade. Get yourself a restaurant scheduling app. 

Still Unsure About Restaurant Scheduling Apps?

Whether you’re interested in additional benefits, or you want to see how Skiplino Lite can address your restaurant scheduling app needs, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. We’re always happy to offer a helping hand. 

×
Enjoying this article? Subscribe now and never miss out on future content.

Subscribe now and never miss out on future content!

Master Customer Experience. Improve Your Business.

Our articles will help you learn all of the best tips, tricks, and proven business strategies to keep your waiting areas clear, your appointment calendar full, and your customers happy. Subscribe today to get all of the latest straight to your inbox. No spam. Unsubscribe any time.