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Should You build an In-house Restaurant Reservation System? [Hint: No. Here’s Why]

Should You build an In-house Restaurant Reservation System? [Hint: No. Here’s Why]



December 19, 2023

December 19, 2023

Whether you manage a single restaurant, a chain, or a hotel F&B concept, you’ve probably asked yourself some these questions:

Should I build my own restaurant reservation software?

Should I use a third-party reservation system?

What are the pros and cons of building my own reservation system? And what are the advantages of using third-party software?

Can I use third-party reservation software and still own my guests’ data?

If you’ve asked yourself one or more of these questions, this article is for you. Here’s what it means to build reservation system, how third-party reservation apps help you, and what to do next.

Benefits of using a reservation system

Benefits of using a reservation system

Let’s start with the basics. How does a restaurant reservation system help you? Here are the top benefits.

An F&B reservation system

Depending on the reservation software you’re using, you may also be able to

  • Manage server shifts based on needs and peak hours.

  • Manage restaurant marketing campaigns through emails and SMS.

  • Create and manage digital menus.

  • Manage online and in-person guest waitlists 

Building a restaurant reservation system: Pros and Cons

Building a restaurant reservation system: Pros and Cons

The question remains: Should I build my own restaurant reservation system? Or should I consider alternatives?

The best way to answer these questions is to review the pros and cons of building reservation management software.

Advantages of building a reservation system 

Tailored to your needs 

The top benefit of building a reservation system is that you can tailor it to the needs of your restaurant or F&B group.

You know what your needs are, you inform the development team and they make it happen. Period.

Data ownership 

Building your reservation management system means you own the customer data. With customer data, you can build guest profiles and measure important analytics.

Disadvantages of building a reservation system 

Now, let’s look at the disadvantages of building your own restaurant reservation software.

Requires a development team 

To build an app or software, you need developers. To build a restaurant reservation system, you need a team of developers who not only understand code but also understand the needs of restaurants and can develop software that’s easy to use for non-tech people.

For this tech team, you’ll likely need a tech team leader, frontend and backend developers or experienced full-stack developers. Not to mention, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers.

After you develop your reservation tool, you’ll need to keep on your development team to constantly improve the software, add new features, fix bugs,…etc.

Expensive investment 

One of the major disadvantages of building your own restaurant reservation system is the hefty financial investment involved.

The starting cost of building reservation software starts from $20,000 if you’re using an app builder. If you’re building the software yourself without an app builder, the cost begins at $40,000. You have to consider the cost of hiring developers and paying them monthly.

Once the software is ready, you’ll still need to keep on a team for bug fixes, upgrades, new features, maintenance,…etc.

Long time to develop 

Besides steep development costs, building your own reservation system takes a long time to develop.

The longer it takes to develop, the longer it takes for you to try it in your restaurant.

In other words, every day you spend time and money developing reservation software is time you’re not using the software. It’s time and money you’re wasting in your restaurant.

Even if you’re using app-building software, you will take months to develop a basic app. You’ll likely need 6-12 months to develop software that’s usable in your restaurant.

That’s the time when your restaurant isn’t making the most of restaurant technology and spending most of its revenues and profits on building the software it’s not using.

Requires constant development and upgrades 

Any type of software requires updates, upgrades, and constant development. Check the apps you have on your mobile. Each app releases an update once a month or every few months.

These updates can include bug fixes, new features, upgrades to current features, among others. Each of these updates involves the development team working on the software to make it more usable to customers.

Your restaurant reservation software will be no different. In fact, it might be more difficult because it’s a niche type of software.

Harder to integrate branches

You’ve built the software, you’ve overcome the challenges, and you’re growing. You’re adding one or more branches or locations to your restaurant chain.

Your software needs to be integrated into the new branches so hosts can use it across branches. At the same time, it should be able to show you data for each branch independently.

Requires training for servers and hosts 

Part of creating software is creating guides and tutorials for users. Let’s say, you don’t mind the sizable financial investment, the year-long wait to get the software ready. Now that it is ready, you need to create tutorials for your staff and train them on how to use it.

You also need to provide this training every time there’s staff turnover or you add new hosts and servers.

Must integrate with other software to improve operations

Besides building your in-house reservation software, you need to build relationships with other software vendors. Chief among those are point-of-sale (POS) and payment integrations to help you manage in-house and online payments. 

That’s in addition to building or integrating with a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

You’ll also need to integrate with marketing software like email and SMS software. In addition to third-party platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and booking sites like Tripadvisor and Zomato to get more reservations

You’ll also need to provide a high level of security, or pay for security software, to ensure guests’ online transactions are safe.

To build or not to build an in-house reservation system?

To build or not to build an in-house reservation system?

You now know the pros and cons of building reservation management software.

This begs two important questions:

  • Do you still want to build a reservation system?

  • What are the alternatives to this long and expensive endeavor?

We’ll leave you to ponder and answer the questions yourself. 

Alternatives? Subscribing to third-party reservation software.

There are many restaurant reservation systems on the market already and many, if not all, overcome the above-mentioned challenges.

What about owning the data? Getting features tailored to my use? Getting customer support?

All restaurant reservation management systems come with a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) system so you can continue to own the data.

Unlike booking software like OpenTable where the third-party owns the data, you, the restaurant owner, are the sole owner of the guest data you add to the CRM.

As for the features and customer support, we answer those questions in the next section.

Try SerVme’s reservation management system

Try SerVme’s reservation management system

SerVme is a reservation and table management software for restaurants, enterprise F&B groups, and hotel F&B concepts.

For years, we’ve been helping restaurants manage operations, reservations, marketing, payments and more. 

Reservation software features 

Unlike attempting to develop your reservation system, SerVme provides you with software designed specifically for restaurants’ needs.

Our product development team delivers monthly software updates to improve operational functionality on web application, tablet and mobile app and introduces new features based on your feedback and suggestions. As a user of SerVme, you have the opportunity to request specific features that meet your requirements.

For example, some of our most recent feature releases came from our customers. These were manager’s notes, auto-tagging, shifts and events, and more.

Further reading: Roundup of SerVme’s Top 2023 Product Features Releases

Reservation and waitlist management 

As one of the top restaurant reservation management systems, SerVme helps you manage online reservations using the online reservation widget.

Offline or on-premise, you can benefit from our phone integration and reservation system for walk-in guests.

We’ve also coupled our reservation software with waitlist management features. This means guests can join a waitlist, whether online using the reservation widget or on-premise through one of your hosts.

For example, if you have a day, time slot, or specific event that’s fully booked, guests can join the waitlist online using the widget.

Similarly, if guests come in without a reservation but your restaurant is booked, you can add them to the waitlist and message them when a table becomes available.

SerVme’s waitlist management features include WhatsApp messaging so you can engage with guests even before they sit at a table. You can share your digital menu(s), inform them of seasonal dishes and beverages, and more. 

Table and seating management 

Besides reservations and waitlists, SerVme’s table management software lets you merge and combine tables to suit your guests. It’s also equipped with floor planning features so you can merge tables without hurting the flow in your restaurant.

Got a large group coming in on Thursday night? Got a corporate dinner booked? The floor planning feature helps you move and set up tables so servers and guests can move easily.

Managing server shifts and cover flow 

Part of managing a restaurant is managing your servers, their shifts, and cover flow for specific events or busy days and nights.

SerVme lets you manage all that from its dashboard. You can review your reservations, note peak hours, and decide which shifts need the most servers. 

Restaurant marketing features 

In addition to the above, one of our F&B customers’ favorite features is the built-in restaurant marketing automation platform. SerVme helps restaurants manage SMS and email marketing campaigns from within SerVme.

SerVme provides restaurant owners, managers, and marketing managers with templates for a host of email and SMS needs.

Want to create a restaurant newsletter? Do it through SerVme.

Want to create email campaigns to get reservations ahead of Valentine’s Day? Grab a SerVme template and tailor your message. Customize it with images from your restaurant and your dishes.

Want to create an SMS campaign for guest surveys? Use SerVme’s templates.

Want to send a birthday email or SMS? SerVme’s templates have you covered.

Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Restaurants

Increasing sales and revenues

Part of being a SerVme customer is getting tips on how to increase restaurant sales, revenues, and profits.

This could be via the SerVme blog and newsletter. Or by helping you collect deposits, reservation and cancellation fees, and no-show fees.

Grab our templates for restaurant reservation, cancellation, and no-show policies

Track third-party sources 

With SerVme, you can easily collaborate with third-party websites like Tripadvisor, Zomato, and others to get more reservations and traffic.

Not only that, but you can track how much traffic or reservations come from these third parties to see if they’re worth the investment or not.

You can also add your reservation widget across your social media pages and get reservations via Facebook and Instagram.

You can track bookings from those two sources to see the impact of your restaurant’s social media strategy and ads.

Human customer support 

Like restaurants, we believe in human connection. That’s why our customer support is always human. 

As a SerVme customer, you get a dedicated account manager to help you find your way around SerVme, provide training for your team, and more.

In addition, we have a dedicated Knowledge Base if you want specific information about certain features.

Manage guest experiences with your CRM 

One of the top reasons restaurants consider building their own software is because they want to own their customer data.

With SerVme, you already own the data. You can create guest profiles by collecting guest information through the reservation widget. Every piece of information your guest shares is instantly added to your restaurant CRM.

When guests come in, you can get more details about their preferences and allergies and add them to your CRM. Next time they visit, you can review their previous dining choices and experience, their guest reviews, spending, and more.

SerVme’s CRM acts as the ultimate guest segmentation tool. You can segment customers using attributes to tailor your marketing messages. Send personalized email and SMS marketing campaigns to build loyalty, increase footfall, and boost your revenues.

Further reading: Create Hyper-Personalization in Your Restaurant with SerVme’s Auto-Tagging Feature 

More benefits with integrations 

Last but certainly not least, integrations. Want more perks while using SerVme? Visit our integrations page or ask your dedicated customer support executive about our integrations.

SerVme integrates with various food-and-beverage POS systems including Revel, Foodics, Micros Simphony, and others.

Frequently asked questions about SerVme’s reservation system

Finally, we believe you may still have some questions about SerVme. Here, we’ll answer the frequently asked questions or FAQs, we get and which you might have.

How much does SerVme cost? 

SerVme offers several payment plans depending on the size of your restaurant or F&B concept.

Our starter plan begins at $99 per month. However, there is a special pricing for annual subscriptions. 

Is there a free trial? 

Yes! After you book a demo, you get a free trial for up to one month.

How much time does it take to implement SerVme?

It depends on the package you choose. Generally, it takes 3 to 5 working days to set up SerVme after our kickoff call. 

What should a restaurant provide SerVme to start using the software?

To start using SerVme, we need the following: 

  • Your restaurant’s location and operating hours

  • Your staff’s email addresses to give them access

  • Your brand logos and marketing assets, reservation policies (if any or if applicable) to be added to the venue

  • Google URL, Facebook and Instagram URL and TripAdvisor URL (if applicable) 

How easy is it to switch to SerVme if you are using your system?

We need the database of existing guests on Excel or Google Sheets to help you migrate to SerVme. 

How frequently does SerVme resolve queries and bugs?

  • Queries are immediately solved through the Intercom. Our account managers respond on the same day.

  • Critical bugs are resolved the same day (even on weekends). 

Does SerVme help us set up things we need to run our restaurant?

We train your operations, reservation, and marketing managers on how to use SerVme’s software, how to set up reservations, manage tables…etc. 

Our account managers will also guide your marketing team through our marketing modules, such as creating email and SMS campaigns.

We’ll also show you how to add integrations, manage and customize the reservation widget, use the restaurant floor plan, generate daily reports,…etc.

However, before we launch (after the sales handover call), we request some information for marketing and the widget, so we can do an initial setup before the launch. 

Any setup thereafter is easy. But if you need our help, like with the CRM for example, we’re here to help.

You can reach your dedicated account manager and they’ll respond immediately. SerVme support is reachable at all times. 

Final words

Building an in-house restaurant reservation software is a long and expensive process. Especially if you’re just planning to build this software for your own needs.

It’s like ‘Should I buy a mobile phone for personal use? Or should I create my own?’ It’s much easier and simpler to just buy a phone.

Same as a microwave or even accounting software. Do you create your own or get something that’s already available and can easily fit and meet your needs? Not to mention, exceed your expectations and needs.

At SerVme, we believe in helping restaurant and F&B businesses make it in today’s fast-paced, fast-evolving, customer-focused restaurant industry.

We want to help restaurant owners like you streamline operations, speed up table turnover, and increase sales, reservations, and retention. We want to help you create better guest experiences in your restaurant.

We designed our software with these ideas in mind. It’s to not only help you achieve your goals but also support your business growth.

So, if you’re still unsure about which way to go, we invite you to explore our free trial and learn more about SerVme’s reservation management software. 

Posted by :

Posted by:

Mohammed Rafy