It’s happened to all of us. You get on your best Saturday night garb (e.g. a tweed suit, wool socks, and a derby hat) and pick up that very-special-someone, and head to your favorite French restaurant, Le Pinson Rolle. You roll up. “Reservations for two, last name Cheddargrass,” you declare proudly, and the hostess refers to her reservation book. And she keeps referring. And she refers some more. Seconds feel like eons.
“I’m sorry, sir. No reservations for Cheddargrass. When did you make them?” And the death-spiral begins. Your powdered cheeks turn ashen. Your date is crestfallen; she’s already on her iPhone making other plans. Even your derby last lost its felt-y luster; it’s saggy, vacant, distant. Another night ruined by human error and its associated accomplices: pencils, notebooks, and other manual instruments.
If only you – and the restaurant itself – had checked out SaveMyTable, a site providing a turn-key suite of online reservation and table management tools.
The system allows restaurants to:
- Provide online reservations, which are automatically confirmed; SaveMyTable even assigns tables.
- Check seat availability real-time when taking reservations over the phone, making books (remember those?) obsolete.
- Build their own website using their development tools, along with free hosting and reservation functionality. A one-stop shop.
- Provide customers with accurate, automatically updated wait times. Customers can call or text a phone number while waiting to get their current wait times.
In fact, the more digging I did on the site, the more I realized that SaveMyTable is more than mere online reservation management. The reservation piece is a mere input, a foundation, for a far more valuable customer relationship management (they use “Guest Relationship Management”) solution. Using this customer data, users can track customer history, build custom files for targeted campaigns, create e-mails, track campaign performances, and view reports on key metrics. That’s where it sings: it takes principles of traditional, dare I say corporate, marketing and CRM, and applies them to the restaurant industry (which, if my experience in said industry is any barometer – kitchens on fire, drinking beer in the walk-in freezer, eating salmon out of the trash – is somewhat of a technology “laggard,” as we say.) There’s no extra hardware needed, as SaveMyTable opens in any standard web browser. A 30-day free trial, plus other pricing plans, are available here. There’s also some neat 20-second tutorial videos at the bottom of the home page. [For some reason, advertising them as “20-second videos” made the more palatable (get it?) to me.]
As a first-time user, my suggestions are as follows:
- This may not be the most constructive comment – since I don’t have a fool-proof solution – but, when I initially checked out the site, I perceived SaveMyTable as a suite of stand-alone tools. Like a buffet (get it?) But once again, the magic sauce (get it?) is within its end-to-end guest management approach: this tool will create a gold mine of valuable customer data and trends than can prove invaluable. This is my ignorance here, but aside from tallying up receipts and comparing them across days, it seems like the list of manually-derived management metrics are minimal, man. This automation would a huge step up, and any way to market it as “this is not your grandfather’s online reservation management system” (of which, I imagine, there are a few?) would be great.
- I would accentuate their Support capabilities because at first blush, this solution may not be for technophones. The online reservation tutorial,for example, looks fantastic and effortless (screen shot below); yet, for certain restaurants, they may be intimidated. While SaveMyTable requires no new hardware, any effort to flesh out the Support site to assure clients they’re calloused, service-industry hands will be held throughout the process, if need be, would be helpful.
The illuminating anctedote which kicked off this feature was presented from the customer’s point of view. But, as someone who worked in the “industry” for six years can tell you, these tools can avoid many debacles for restaurants. There’s nothing worse than telling some dandy in a derby you don’t have his reservation (I mean, he may Yelp you, yknow?) And actually, speaking of Mr. Cheddargrass, you may ask what came of him. Well, in this installment of “Where Are They Now?” Mr. Cheddargrass is the successful proprietor of a used t.v. store near Boulder City (where, alas, there are no French restaurants.) He lives with his mother, and his derby was last seen passing through a Homeland Security checkpoint in Cuidad Juarez with a fake moustache. And though Mr. Cheddargrass blames his humilating reservations experience on not using SaveMyTable, in a way, it made him stronger. So don’t feel bad for him. He’ll be just fine. Call me crazy, but I have a good feeling about him.