More thoughts on the no-show culture (and what to do!)

by John Jones | Jun 09, 2022

No-shows have always been a feature of restaurant management life, accepted as being one of the inevitable downsides of being a restaurateur. Talk to pretty much any restaurant owner and they’ll tell you that no-shows are on the rise and costing them dearly each year. Here at Favouritetable we understand how unjust this is and the frustrations it can cause to an already battered and bruised industry, and we’re hard at work trying to work with restaurants to educate the booking public and deliver software solutions which help. 

It is such a hot topic of debate that our Founder and MD Jaipal recently wrote about it in the UK publication eat.drink.sleep, in which he suggests some ideas for mitigating the problem.

Despite the level of anger within the restaurant-owning community around the subject of no-shows, Jaipal mkes a very good point by highlighting that the vast majority of customers who book do actually turn up – it is just the inconsiderate culprits who run the risk of tarnishing everyone with the same brash. Rule number one, therefore, is to keep a sense of perspective and cherish those customers who do play fairly and by the unwritten rules.

By engaging further with existing customers and making them feel loved, restaurateurs will – to use a phrase borrowed from our sales team – make them “stickier” and this foster a reliable source of income. What do we mean by engagement? Simple things like the occasional newsletter to highlight, say, a new menu or a personalised email to a customer nearing their birthday which offers them their favourite dish and table by the window.

Some reading this will be thinking “that’s all well and good, but what about the no-show people? I am angry and I want them to know it” and – you know what? - they’ be right. We get it. 

The reality, however, is that after years of turmoil due to the pandemic and now a declining economic climate caused by political and world events, restaurants do need to extract as much value as they can from every possible customer source even if that customer has an iffy track record when it comes to showing up for their meal. 

The best way to deal with no-show customers if, first and foremost, to give them the benefit of the doubt but crucially not let it go, either. After years in the sector and exposure to thousands of restaurants’ operating challenges, Jaipal recommends capitalising on the culprit’s sense of remorse. In his article, he says

“Reaching out and inviting no shows to re-book is actually a great way to capture trade, eventually. Some no shows suffer ‘remorse’ and feel guilty so an invitation coupled with concern regarding their missed booking can foster and encourage their custom”.

Again, the simple things can bring a black-marked customer back into the fold and therefore the sales funnel. A quick call expressing concern for their wellbeing ("is everything ok? We missed you”) can work wonders as can an empathetic email suggesting alternatively available table slots. 

Finally, a little bit of discreet technology can help in a practical sense and play into the empathetic language used therein. What is there for a customer to dislike about being proactively offered an alternative slot, with the option to secure it with a deposit? Customers receiving such gracious treatment after the faux par are more likely to become solid, reliable returners and who knows – they may even leave a hefty tip for staff and an even healthier review online. 

Wrapping up

We do understand the frustration caused by the no-show trend, but restaurateurs should resist the temptation to vent, publicly get mad and start banning customers for life. With a deep breath and a view of the bigger picture, restaurant owners can turn negatives into positives – with a little help from tech – and live to fight another day.


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