I think you will all agree, the reopening of our much-loved Independents has brought happiness to the city again. After months of uncertainty and doubt, the 4th of July signified our very own independence day. 

We couldn’t wait for our first pint. Our first visit back to Baltic Market. Or our first venture to Lark Lane. No more home-cooking and takeouts. But, since the lifting of the lockdown, the hospitality sector is facing another issue.  

No shows have always been an issue, but restaurants are running at reduced capacity in other to comply with social distancing. With businesses fighting to stay open, the issue needs to be taken seriously. 

Not even two weeks after the opening of the industry, Mowgli tweeted this: 

Just two days later, Bacaro was faced with a similar story. If you’re an avid fan of Bacaro, you’ll know how hard it can be to secure a table. Despite the fact that they use a text service to make sure customers confirm their booking, the situation seems to be worsening.

They tweeted:

“7 people didn’t turn up for their confirmed bookings last night, I’m not sure they realise but this is make or break for us, the maximum we can and want to trade at is 75% to keep everyone safe. When 27 people can’t be arsed turning up or even let us know with a call, then that leaves us with 2 options. Stay as we are and struggle and maybe close for good, or we start taking credit card details for every booking and charging for no shows. which we’ve never wanted to do but things have changed completely since March.”

What can we do?

  • Show Up

The first one is pretty obvious. Try your best to show up. Don’t cancel unless you really can’t make it.

  • Communicate

That being said, we all have last-minute problems and owners understand that sometimes plans change. If you can’t show up for whatever reason, let them know ASAP.  Rebooking for another date is also a good plan.

  • Be Decisive

Don’t try your luck and book three or four restaurants for the same time on the same night. Plan ahead and pick somewhere you actually want to eat at. I know it’s tempting. 

  • Love Your Liverpool

It’s been a weird year but summer isn’t cancelled – it’s just different. This year, rather than travelling the world, let’s explore what’s closer to home and become a tourist in our own city. Fall in love with new places, fall back in love with old and let’s show our indies the support they need. More info here.

We are blessed to have such an amazing selection of places to try, and four months of cooking and Banana bread means a lot of catching up to do. But please – be selective and pick the one you fancy the most.

We caught up with the super popular Maray to hear what they had to say about it:

“No shows have always been an issue, unfortunately there are people out there that will happily book several tables at different restaurants then just decide where to go on the night – without any thought on the damage they are causing.

If two tables of four decide not to turn up and the restaurant cannot resell them – this will be in excess of £200 of lost revenue, you multiply that through the night,  the week, through the months and soon this becomes thousands and thousands of pounds.

At a time when profits are already hard to come by due to reduced capacity, this kind of behaviour puts restaurants in a dangerous situation.

We made the decision to take card details for all bookings when we reopened, guests are only charged in the event of a no-show or late cancellation (when we cannot resell the table), so far the response to this has been positive and it is working for us.”

We also spoke to Bacaro:

“Things have improved save for last nights bad weather but generally guests have been more considerate. It certainly has cost us though in some of our restaurants where we lost over £1k of revenue on any given day due to no shows. It’s even tougher to take when we’ve turned so many guests away that most likely would have dined with us.”

What can restaurants do?

  • Credit card details 

Rather than taking a straight-up deposit, some have opted to take details in case of a no-show (i.e. payment taken if you don’t cancel within the time frame). Maray have recently implemented this into their three premises. It may be too early to see whether it’s working, but it may have positive benefits.

  • Deposits

This is favourable and is usually the first offered solution to the problem. However, many in the industry are against asking for money up-front. After Mowgli tweeted about their recent no-show problem, many were quick to suggest that deposits could help solve the fundamental problem.

The plus side is, our much-loved independents would be guaranteed some form of revenue, so this may be something to consider – even just for the short term.

  • Walk-ins

It may be possible to eliminate no shows altogether by getting rid of the booking process. Whilst this may have been favourable in pre-Coronavirus times, this may not be suitable at the moment. 

It is clear: the problem of no shows hasn’t gone away and it will continue if we don’t act now. At a time where our Independents need us more than ever, it is getting worse. 

So, next time you venture out, be mindful of the independents that have adapted their ways of working to help keep us fed and safe.

By  Kate Rogers, Guest Writer – Found on Instagram as @lvpooleats