6 problems: Paper diary vs electronic restaurant diary - round one
Hands up, who’s still using a paper diary for their restaurant reservations? Well you’re certainly not alone and over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the paper diary versus the electronic restaurant diary, starting with examining the six key problems with paper diaries.
Why people still use paper restaurant diaries
Despite the proliferation of technology available to make everyone’s job easier and drive more revenue for a business, people’s routines are hard to change and with paper restaurant diaries, ‘routine’ is often the biggest reason why restaurants still use them. From our experience, the main reasons restaurateurs still use paper diaries include:
- They do their job to a level people are happy with, people are comfortable and familiar with them and it’s been part of the restaurant’s daily routine since day dot.
- Paper restaurant diaries are free.
- They don’t need any set up or staff training.
But are these reasons really compelling enough against the benefits to a business of moving over to an electronic diary? Let’s look at the problems with the paper diary and how an electronic diary deals with them.
Problem 1: Disappearing act
It’s a simple problem but put plainly a diary can get lost. Or worse, sabotaged by an angry employee. Do you have a back up anywhere? ERB solution: all the booking data you put into simpleERB is stored securely in the cloud (it’s software as a service and managed via the internet). So unlike if a waiter loses your one and only copy of the paper diary restaurant diary, the data can be accessed quickly and easily from any device.
Problem 2: Overbooking
Paper diaries make overbooking very easy. Staff can often put more covers in the diary for a time period than the kitchen can cope with. ERB solution: simpleERB is set up to know your maximum number of covers for a sitting so automatically prevents overbookings.
Problem 3: Is Laura allergic to nuts?
Your manager probably knows your customers’ preferences but what if she leaves? How will the rest of the staff know if Laura, who’s a big spender, is allergic to nuts? ERB solution: you can store all your customer preferences in simpleERB within the customer’s account, for any of your staff to see whenever they take a future booking from that particular person. Record their dietary requirements, whether they’re a friend of the owner and any other relevant detail. This means all staff can ‘know the customer’.
Problem 4: No feedback
Customers can give you fantastic feedback personally but how does the paper diary let you record and utilise this feedback? Paper diaries don’t let your customers send you feedback. ERB solution: simpleERB lets diners privately review their restaurant experience. This review will go directly to you and you can then respond directly to any negative feedback and encourage users with positive feedback to share their experience via Tripadvisor, Facebook, etc.
Problem 5: Building your customer list
A customer list is essential to your business if you’re looking to maintain their custom, communicate with them and encourage them to keep coming back. You can build a list with a paper diary but it’s very inefficient. After recording their booking in your paper diary, do you manually then add it to a spreadsheet or another list? Either way, it’s ineffective. ERB solution: Every time you take a booking through simpleERB, their contact details are stored automatically allowing you to quickly export your list to a spreadsheet or third party software. It also helps build your email marketing list. Customers can receive an email booking confirmation – a further incentive for them to give you their email address and helping you to market to them in the future.
Problem 6: No connectivity
Paper, of course, doesn’t connect to the internet. So if you take bookings via your website or Facebook page, how do you transfer them into your paper diary? Manually? And what if someone places a booking on your website but the space is already taken in the paper diary? ERB solution: simpleERB lets you take reservations via your website or Facebook page, ony displaying available covers, and automatically updates your diary.
Round one: The winner?
So in round one of the paper diary vs electronic reservations diary, I think it’s clear that the ERB has won. In the next posts, I’ll explore the objections around cost, installation and training. If you want to give simpleERB a try, you can set up your restaurant and play around with the features I talked about above here for free.