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3 Tock tools to reduce no-shows at your restaurant

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By Tock Staff

Empty tables mean lost revenue. These features can slash your no-show rate and keep your dining room full.

Guests canceling reservations at the last minute—or bailing on their tables altogether—is a constant problem in the hospitality industry. An unexpected empty table can turn a profitable evening into a money-losing proposition. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Tock’s no-show tools are proven to drastically reduce empty tables, giving you more control over service, saving time, and boosting your bottom line. Read on to get the data, learn helpful no-show tips, and decide which tool is right for your business. 

Offer prepaid experiences

Taking payments upfront is the most dependable way to eliminate no-shows. After all, Tock was created to solve this problem. For 10 years, we’ve seen prepayments successfully reduce no-shows for our restaurant, winery, bar, and hotel customers to near zero. 

Tock’s prepayment feature works well for tasting menu restaurants and casual takeout operations alike. It’s also the most effective tool we’ve developed to address no-shows. From December of 2023 through March of 2024, the average no-show rate for Tock customers using prepayments was just 0.9% of bookings. 

Tips for success with prepaid experiences

  • Send text and email reminders to guests who have prepaid (Tock enables these by default). 
  • Specify your policies around prepayments, cancellations, and refunds. 
  • Offer menu add-ons, which allow guests to customize their experience and let you upsell before they walk in the door. 

Take deposits 

The success of Tock’s prepayment tool shows that when guests have some skin in the game, they almost always show up. However, prepayments aren’t the best option for every hospitality business. Tock customers who prefer not to take prepayment at booking can offer guests more flexibility with deposits.

Our data proves that collecting a deposit of as little as 10% of the predicted check average can significantly cut down on no-shows. Tock customers who took deposits during that same time period experienced an average no-show rate of just 1.7%. One satisfied customer saw no-shows drop by 50% after they implemented deposit-based reservations. 

Tips for success with deposits

  • Update your policies around deposits so guests know what to expect. 
  • Enable POS integrations to automatically deduct the deposit from a guest’s bill at the end of their meal. 
  • Train staff to handle deposit questions from guests and to remind tables that the deposit has been deducted when they drop the check. 

Use credit card holds

No-shows can impact some restaurants more than others. If your business can balance guests who bail on reservations with lots of walk-ins—but you’re still getting more no-shows than you’d like—consider using credit card holds to keep tables full. 

Unlike prepayments and deposits, this feature doesn’t charge a guest’s card at booking. Instead, a pending charge is placed on the card, which you can authorize if a guest doesn’t show up or cancels late. This option offers guests the most flexibility while providing operators with peace of mind. Current Tock customers who use credit card holds saw an average no-show rate of 3% from December 2023 through March 2024.

Tips for Success with Credit Card Holds

  • Make sure your policies are updated so guests aren’t taken by surprise when they see the hold on their credit card. 
  • Train staff that they can waive no-show or late cancellation fees on a case-by-case basis when circumstances call for leniency.

Prefer credit card holds for day-to-day service but want to guarantee revenue from certain experiences? It’s possible to take prepayments for special occasions like a wine tasting or Valentine’s Day.

Get more helpful tips and training resources at Tock Academy. Not on Tock yet? Request a demo.

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