Gordo thinks people who don't cancel their tables should be punished

There are two major problems In the restaurant world. We’ll deal with one of them here: The no-show problem. 

Anecdotal evidence indicates this is a relatively new phenomenon. It appears that, for certain demographics, it has become the norm to book two or even three restaurants for a night out with pals, waiting until the morning of the visit to decide which to go to. 

They then don't have the courtesy to let the restaurants they've rejected know they won't be showing up. 

What the hell is that all about?

I’m a grumpy old bastard who doesn’t believe in the milk of human kindness.

Every six months or so, a nice young restaurateur comes onto social media bemoaning the fact that there were three tables the previous evening that didn’t show. How can people do this to them, they ask, costing them their profits for the evening? They go on to plead for these people to stop doing this. 

And guess what? None of these idiots gives a flying fuck. 

20172205 Roebuck People
Restaurants need to be full of diners, not scattered with empty tables due to no shows

Moaning on social media solves nothing

Social media then wrings its hands and people start tweeting stuff like: "Please don’t do this, it’s very naughty" or "Just think of those poor people running a restaurant trying to make a living".

And guess what? None of these idiots gives a flying fuck. 

These serial no-shows are a small but costly bunch. No amount of asking them to "do the right thing" will get them to listen.

Let’s be frank. I’m a grumpy old bastard who doesn’t believe in the milk of human kindness. Assume the worst. Be pleasantly surprised if nice things happen.

What's the solution to the no-show problem?

I have always thought that there is an obvious, instant cure for this:

Take a deposit on bookings.

It needn’t be much, say 25% of the usual cost per head. If they are a no-show, keep it - and blacklist the arseholes. On the other hand, if they call before service, with a good reason, thank them. 

Many restaurateurs have told me that they believe taking deposits will be bad for business. I’ve got news for them: The only thing that is bad for the business is talent going out of business. A huge number of restaurants fail within the first two years. Most of the time, it’s amateurs who simply don’t get the proposition or the execution right.

But more worrying to me are the ones who go under because they are arrogant, big-headed and unable to change their minds.

Am I right when I say that the industry should move over to taking deposits?

If I am right, then this is the best time to do it. A time when - due to covid's well-documented effects on restaurants and pubs - the public has never been more sympathetic with the industry's plight. 

Most people wouldn't mind paying a deposit for a restaurant booking

But how to prove it?

I asked them. 

On my @gordomanchester Twitter - with nearly 18,000 followers, amplified by my other accounts, totalling 268,000 enthusiastic quality restaurant lovers - I posed this simple question: Would you be prepared to help solve the no-show problem by paying a deposit on booking?

Over 2000 people voted: 5% said they would not be prepared to pay the deposit, 95% said they would be happy to do so.

The technology is available to take a commitment from the 95%. On these results, sensible business people would take a commitment. 

So, it’s time to stop whingeing on social looking for sympathy because sympathy loves company but doesn’t pay the bills. Concentrate on making sensible money. 

The industry needs to move as one and make it happen. 

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