Blow the no show and the cold, occupation of the kitchens – Liberation

Could Covid have had the side effect of turning restaurant customers into poorly behaved children? Since the reopening of the Italian table she holds in the 12th arrondissement of Paris with her husband Giovanni after her imprisonment, Justine Passerini has rarely had so many reservations canceled at the last minute… or even not complied with at all. “We talk a lot about it between restaurateurs, there is something that has changed in the last two or three years: That online booking has almost become the majority, it anonymizes things a bit. Maybe that’s why people no longer allow themselves to come without warning, she analyzes on the phone. Six years ago, when we opened, we used a reservation book, but it was time consuming. Maybe the restaurants that do not have online reservations that do everything over the phone have fewer “no shows”.

“No shows” are customers who book a table and simply do not show up. The establishments are then at their expense. “When someone does not come, do not pick up the phone, for us the table is lost and it has a cost, Grégory Back abounds, leading several restaurants, including The Virgin of Reunion (Paris XX.). If people take the step to call, even if it’s just to say they’m exhausted, okay, that they are not coming, then we should probably find a replacement. But when a table with four people, representing 10% of the restaurant’s capacity, does not come, it’s a big deal. Especially when we have adapted to their request to come at. 20.30, when we rather try to start earlier to do two services, we lose twice as much.

This is “Whole restaurant that pays”

“No show is one of the main problems for our customers. Especially in this time where it is tense for them in terms of attendance and margins, the no show becomes unbearable ”, Xavier Zeitoun, CEO of Zenchef, confirms a reservation management platform that provides various tools to restaurateurs. It was set up in late 2010 and now manages three million reservations a month at 6,500 restaurants. Not all companies are equal when it comes to “no show”. When it comes to a bistro located in a busy place, or when there are many regulars, the restaurateurs usually manage to fill the table anyway.

But not always: “I’m not one of those people who suffers the most because I’m in a neighborhood with regulars where I’m not particularly dependent on big events that bring people back, Grégory Back exhibits again. But I had a colleague from the 11th arrondissement who often had several tables of six or seven during fashion week who did not show up. We “only” have one show a day on average, but it’s nothing, especially since we’re in border economies, it’s important that people become aware of it.

To accelerate this awareness, the media dedicated to gastronomy Mading and lifestyle Konbini published a column on Tuesday urging customers to stop “Add rabbits [leurs] restaurants ». About 100 restaurateurs from Paris, Biarritz, Lille, Marseille, Perpignan, Honfleur, Lyon, Nice, Rennes, Pau, les Baux-de-Provence, Clermont-Ferrand or even Avignon have put their signature on the text, reminding diners, that when ‘they do not show up even though they have reserved a table, it is “Whole restaurant that pays”ranging from the chefs who risk losing their fresh produce to the waiters who have been called in extra and who finally turn their thumbs in front of a less crowded room than expected.

To keep their customers from deciding at the last minute whether to come or not, more and more companies are asking for a bank statement at the time of booking (you leave your card number but you will not necessarily be charged) or a prepayment. “It has become a very important topic since it appeared in 2016. In the US and UK, they are less hesitant to set it up, notes Xavier Zeitoun. But even though restaurateurs are afraid of exposing customers, they are up and running: Between 2021 and 2022, we had 100% growth in the use of the bank imprint among our customers, especially in the big cities. When more companies do this, it will be better accepted by customers. ”

“All the people who suddenly have a liver attack at 7 p.m.”

Justine Passerini is one of those who ended up choosing this system: “I have 45 seats, the record was 11 no shows. I’ll call them, I’ll call back … she says. However, we remind all customers of the day before, at least those who do not confirm by email. We call directly from our personal phones, with a hidden number, otherwise people do not pick up. They feel a little stupid, it’s funny. The day we exceeded a quarter of our revenue in no show, we decided to switch to the publisher. So far, it only uses this system for lunch service on Saturdays and evenings during the week – at lunchtime, its regular clientele is not that difficult.

“At the theater, at the hotel, if you do not come, you will not receive compensation, says Justine Passerini again. I was in touch, I lost several theater tickets, that’s how it is. This is what I call shared risk: OK, you’re in touch, it’s a shame, but if you can afford to eat with us, where the average ticket is 75 euros, I do not think it’s crazy that you pay 20 euros, if you do not come and you do not warn in advance. Me, on two covers, I would have lost 150 euros. When people call me the day before or in the afternoon, I do not take anything. But if you are not feeling well, do not book, you are waiting to find out if you are better. It’s still crazy all these people who suddenly get a liver attack at. 19, one hour before their reservation, or who suddenly have contact. It’s an excuse we have all used, I understand, but one is not tested at.

If she finally only takes four to five covers a month for no show, she estimates this “deterrence method” quite effective, even if it regrets that it punishes “80% of the customers who play the game and who may find it painful to receive a reminder email, to have to confirm … We find ourselves in a logic that we do not like.” At Passerini, it costs 20 euros for each cover that is not remunerated. This is far from the prepayment of several hundred euros, which is sometimes practiced in star restaurants. “With us, the average amount for a print is 145 euros, and it’s more gastro, confirms Xavier Zeitoun. About half of the premium restaurants, that is, starring or recommended by “Gault et Millau” or “Fooding”, make their mark. but it is first and foremost a deterrent: only 0.2% of imprinted bookings are actually charged. It is the restaurant that sets its policy, the possible duration of cancellation … If the customer respects that, he will not be charged.

The platform also offers tools for restaurateurs to identify potential customers in advance. If the exact method of calculating the “risk” represented by a customer is confidential and no restaurateur can legally oblige the GDPR to know how a customer behaved in another bistro, the fact of not having presented for the first time, or that having reserved several tables in several restaurants being spoiled for choice at the last minute can lead to the customer seeing a red dot attached to his name. “It’s a risk indicator, but we inform restaurateurs to take precautionary measures, not to blacklist anyone, says Xavier Zeitoun. Sometimes it can be a hotel concierge who reserves several tables for different customers, so it has to be taken with a pinch of salt, but it helps smooth things out.

“I’m not here to check the apologies”

“As we have imprinted, it’s an insane number of people calling late in the day who have just experienced a tragedy, continues and laughs, Justine Passerini. People are so afraid of being taken from them that they invent impossible things: a car accident, a family drama … But at 21.45 in the winter, I do not have time to replace those who cancel after 22 hours. . ” Grégory Back, he has not yet moved to the bank publishing house. “In my mind, as long as people call, even if it’s for the wrong reason, it’s not a no show we can handle it. I’m not here to check the apologies, he jokes. But you must also remember that it is cool to reserve a table so that it is waiting for you at the time you want. It is a service that is not insignificant to the restaurant and that requires a minimum of commitment on your part.

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