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How to reduce no shows in your restaurant to near zero.
How to reduce no shows in your restaurant to near zero.

"No shows" by customers hurt restaurants, simpleERB has a variety of solutions to help eliminate.

Written by Chelsea
Updated over a week ago

If a restaurant is working on a small profit margin, even a few no shows on a busy night can be the difference between working for nothing and turning a profit. Whether this is customers not turning up or cancelling at the last minute the result is the same.

simpleERB, a simple restaurant diary & booking management system solution, has multiple tools to enable you to reduce the financial cost of your no shows dramatically. If you have never thought about how much a financial cost this can be to a restaurant, we urge you to see our article to view the maths here.

Automatic booking reminders

You can set any number of these up to go to customers. e.g.  if someone books a long way ahead, one can go a month or a week/s before their date of arrival and another a couple of days before. The more you have, the easier it is to capture all your customer's bookings according to their booking lead time. Click here for our help article on setting these up.

The reminders can go by email or SMS/text (charge applicable).

Diners can also be sent SMS/text or email reminders directly from within their booking place.

On the reminder emails, there is a link to cancel their booking and a link to confirm the booking. Some users highlight this again in the custom reminder message. If the customer clicks the 'confirm', this will be recorded in their booking place for restaurants to see.

You could also reiterate in the customer reminder message about your cancellation policy and if you apply a late cancellation or no show fee as per your booking terms and conditions.

To set up reminder emails or SMS in your account, please click here. Alternatively, click here for our help article on setting these up.

Enforce payments or card rules to secure against a booking that is PCI compliant

If you are getting even a few no-shows on a busy night, it could be worth looking at securing your revenue by requesting customers pay upfront or supply card details to be held against their booking.

If you are still unsure about it, click here to view the maths to help you decide if you should be taking a payment.

You don’t want to be holding people’s credit card numbers in any other form. You would be leaving yourself wide open to fraud and even be fined by your bank or credit card company. simpleERB has integrations with the payment processor, Stripe, to let you do this for online and telephone bookings. Please click here to see more information about the integration.

Take payments or hold card details to your specific requirements

simpleERB gives you full control, so if you want to only insist on credit card numbers OR a payments for your busy times like Friday or Saturday nights you can do this.

Alternatively only set for seasonal holidays, such as Xmas, or only for Valentines Day, or only for bookings of over 10 covers… It's up to you! You can enable and disable and have as many different rules in place. See how this works here.

Important: simpleERB has recently made changes to the payment process. We received feedback that some customers were abusing the old process where the payment rule for the booking was not enforced, leaving some customers not making the payment or supplying a card prior to the booking date. See the new enforced process for bookings outlined further in the article. For information about how to monitor existing bookings with a payment rule, please click here.

Here is how simple it looks in the simpleERB booking place…

Monitor and record no shows / late cancellations

In simpleERB you can apply a no show status to a booking so this is recorded in reports and statistics for you to evaluate and the booking also unassigns from the allocated table to quickly free the table for a walkin or another customer booking. For further information on this, click here.

If you have SMS text available, you could text the customer from their booking place to either prompt action or advise the table will be let go.

You could also create a 'no show' quick info button here, which you can also apply to the booking when you update the status to 'no show'. This would mean, if the no show was to rebook in the future using the same details, you would be able to see this clearly on the booking to take extra precaution.

To monitor the bookings cancelling late to highlight if a cancellation fee is applicable, you can see a live list of your present cancellations in the Diary view within the 'Managers Day Book'. See here for more info about this tool. Alternatively, you could the following day or on the day check your cancellation report here depending on your policy.

Apply booking conditions and no-show/late cancellation fees

simpleERB also gives you a template of terms and conditions that go out with every booking confirmation and to which you can point to if someone argues with you. You can customise these here to suit your exact requirements and whatever national or local laws apply. 

This means you could advise customers that if the booking no shows or cancels outwith your cancellation period, you may take a fee for this. You will need to have the payment integration enabled and at least a card capture rule in place to be able to action this.

If you add this fee as a booking condition, this is how to then request this fee from the bookings payment details supplied.

Change to a full prepaid ticketed restaurant

You could always go “All ticket” and charge everyone in advance, see here. This means you would be charging the customer in advance for the price of their meal be it a set number of courses from a set menu or a tasting menu.

Manage an advance waitlist

Have you ever had a customer ask to be added to a waitlist? Another great way to minimise no shows is to begin taking an advance waitlist at your peak periods. This will hopefully help you rebook the no show/ late cancellation and not lose out on the booking. To manage a waitlist in simpleERB, please see how here.

Set up booking cancellation policies

You can set up a cancellation policy for all bookings and enable custom cancellation reasons for customers to notify you of the reason for the cancellation.

The cancellation policy will prevent customers from cancelling their booking via the email cancellation link once the booking enters the specified cancellation timeframe. The customer will be notified that the booking is now within the cancellation policy and they must call the restaurant to cancel this.

The last thing is, all of these ideas are simple to implement with simpleERB and quickly. Immediately actionable tactics to help reduce restaurant no shows.

Find out what other features simpleERB has here or get in touch ( with any queries.

We currently integrate with the following payment providers to securely process and manage the payment process; Stripe and takepayments. Please be aware that the payment provider will charge you a transaction service fee on all payments processed.

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