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Naomi's Blog

NO-SHOWS AND RANTY-PANTS.

By August 28, 2012 7 Comments

Last Thursday I was visited by an angel. His name is Stefan and he works for Dimmi, the online reservation system we launched on the website to save me from returning emails at 2am, which will in turn save my sleep and likely my marriage. Oh , it’s not quite that dramatic, but sometimes a girl needs a bit of drama to get her man to see the truth.

I had planned to write a flowery post about how we hoped this would make the reservation process easier and faster, but then we had 4 no-shows at Sunday night’s service, so now I’ve pulled on my favourite pair of ranty-pants and am going to vent my frustrations right here in the intimate world of cyberspace.

Which, by the way, is part of the problem. Does the anonymity of an email somehow dilute your personal responsibility?

‘Oh no, it wasn’t me who no-showed, it was my email, I would never do something like that.

We decided to take reservations for several reasons.

One, I’m a hundred and fifty and can’t always be arsed to put my name down at 530 and hope I get a table by 9. When the mama is on a night out, she likes to know she ain’t going to spend half that night eating peanuts at the local pub waiting for her table to be ready. Also, I like a cocktail. And I loooove a glass of wine. 530-9 leaves a lot of time open for me to work my way through your wine list…

Two. I’m a mama. Who wants to stand, waiting for a table, knowing that every minute you do costs you $3 in babysitting fees. By the time you sit down to eat, you decide you can’t afford an entree and you’ll split a dessert to make up the $40 you spent while waiting.

Three. Knowing your reservations gives your kitchen a fair idea of what’s coming at them that night, and allows you to staff your front of house accordingly.

Mostly, though, we wanted Hartsyard to be relaxed and welcoming, and we figured that if you knew you had a table, and we knew you had a table, and you knew that we knew you had a table, that would go a long way to achieving that before your meal even began.

To us it seemed like more work upfront, for less work on the night. But Jeez, it is far more work than I anticipated, which is why we enlisted the help of Dimmi in the first place. It responds in real time, is accurate, provides an immediate answer, followed by a booking confirmation email, and now (in response to Sunday’s guest’s performances) sends a reminder email 48 hours before the reservation. Just for good measure, I also call to confirm on the day.

Overkill?

I agree. Airlines don’t bother to remind you about your upcoming flight to Singapore.

But by then they’ve already taken your money. And that, I suppose is the real difference. There’s no accountability if no one makes you pay.

Several people suggested I start a black-list, but I hate to put energy into negatives, and unfortunately that list would now be rather long, so cross-referencing it each night would take more time than confirming reservations in the first place. Perhaps instead, we’ll keep a list of people we do take reservations from, and the rest of the dining room is fair game.

But that contradicts our philosophy for taking reservations in the first place.

So please people, for heavens sake, don’t make reservations at 9 different restaurants because you decided last minute that you want to go out for dinner, but won’t be happy until you find a 730 time slot. And if you do find that 730 time slot, please spend the extra 4 minutes to call all of us other suckers back so that we might free up that table and pay our staff’s Sunday wages by seating another party.

Told you I had my ranty-pants on.

So far Dimmi’s software is not equipped to immediately black-list no-show parties, but I reckon they should look into it. Provide a brotherhood for us schmucks still taking reservations.

But for the majority of our delightful guests, all of whom turn up on time and are an absolute pleasure to serve, if you’re having any trouble with the online system, or have a special request (bespoke cake by Andy…table with an ocean view…) please do contact me directly.

If i’m not having a little nap, I’ll get back to you faster than you can say black list.

 

 

 

 

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • I’m really glad you take reservations — please don’t let the bad folk outweigh the good. It’s fine to rock up if there are only two of you, sometimes, but if you’re making plans and/or bringing a group then reservations are a must. (I, like you, am in my hundreds and have no time for this standing around business.)

  • Really tricky one. I totally understand the move some restaurants have made, taking a 10% booking fee as an incentive for people who make reservations to show up (I think Rockpool is doing it now?)
    They say Sydney’s diners are the most fickle in Australia, so why not get them to put their money where their mouth is…
    For the record, when I finally DO come along to your fine establishment, I will make a reservation and stick to it 🙂

  • Vic says:

    I’m glad you take reservations too – we’d never be able to come from the old North Shore if we weren’t sure about a table. Damn those slackers who are stuffing it up for the rest of us! I’m all for a black list!

  • Yes! Totally agree. Not showing up for a booking its the height of rudeness. To the restaurant & to the other punters who either couldn’t get a booking or who are waiting in the restaurant for something to miraculously open up. Detestable.

  • Stephen says:

    Actually airlines do remind you that you are flying to Singapore – usually by email, ond often by text – and frequent travellers subscribe to things like Kayak which sends them reminders about such things. Gosh, even my doctor, dentist and even hairdresser send me a reminder text!

  • Ash says:

    I am a restaurant owner in the Rocks and I completely agree. We don’t take reservations as they are a nightmare. The amount of no shows we get is ridiculous (when we did take them). I don’t know if you found this or not, but we found the no shows a lot more when it is larger groups. I think people find anonimity in numbers and emails. Maybe you should call them and be really nice on the phone to confirm, if your new system doesn’t work that is.

  • Robyn says:

    Just adding my sentiments to those above – I really, really appreciate that you take reservations. We arranged a babysitter tonight especially so that we could try your wonderful restaurant – we would not have taken the punt if there was a possibility we wouldn’t get a table.