When you enter into a restaurant these days you may see the host writing down names for the waitlist or reservations via the phone. It's hard to understand why there is still use of pen and paper when there is an abundance of tablet computers and user friendly software.
There are many obvious reasons as to why pen and paper aren't the best method in this day and age to track reservations: can't read the writing, messy, looks unprofessional, and easily lost or damaged. Below are some reasons that you might not have considered.
Not detailed enough - Oftentimes staff don't take enough details of a reservation that might be useful in the future. While name, party size, time, and phone number are important, most people don't keep track of who took the reservation at what day/time. There are many other types of details that should also be taken if possible: allergies, special occasions, location preferences, and more. A computerized system will prompt the host to take down these details.
Research issues - The above mentioned details come into play if there are any problems or issues that arise in the future. A computerized system will be able to tell you who took or modified a reservation and when. It can also tell you if a reservation came in electronically via website or Facebook.
Database storage - In a computerized system all the information for all your guests is kept in an internal database. Most of the time you will use this data for the guest information and analytics (below), but sometimes you will want to use the data for other purposes. An example would be to download the guest emails so that you can send out an email newsletter or offer. It's rare that pen/paper users are also taking down email addresses and, even if they did, they would still need to later type them into a list or database.
Analytics - It would be pretty difficult to collate the information gathered via paper into useful information. How many reservations did you have this month versus the prior month? What was the average wait time for a party of four? What hours or meals have the heaviest traffic and wait times? A computerized system keeps all this data for you so that you can answer these questions with a couple clicks of the mouse. This data can be useful for tweaking the business in your restaurant. You might be able to reduce staffing during certain days or times. You might see that you can turn tables over faster if you reallocate resources.
The items above are four compelling reasons to make the switch from pen and paper to a computerized system. You will keep more useful data in an organized fashion that you can use in multiple ways to improve your business. At the same time, your guest will enter and see a more professional and neat setup at the host stand.
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