Jolly Farmers harvests online bookings to increase covers

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This is a Jolly Farmers restaurant, a Zonal client


How Jolly Farmers maximised covers AND created an enjoyable working environment at the same time.

With margins tightening and competition fierce, every restaurant and pub is under pressure to get more covers, serve more customers, and make more money. But the risk is that this may translate into more pressure on staff, slipping standards, and increased risk of burnout. However, there is another way. Instead of working harder, hospitality businesses can work smarter. A fully integrated booking and table management system has the power to deliver the Holy Grail for any GM or operations manager: higher yield and less stress.



Jolly Farmers is a busy pub-restaurant with capacity for 160 covers, popular with families and groups, and part of multisite operator McMullen. Over the past five years, General Manager Carolyn Jordan has lived through a change in the way they operate, with her site introducing the Zonal Bookings integrated booking and table management system to replace the old paper diary.

“You will not look back once you get Zonal Bookings. As long as every table’s allocated, you know that you’re going to have a good shift.”

– Carolyn Jordan, General Manager, Jolly Farmers



“Before Zonal Bookings, it was just pen and paper and pot luck really. One of the main advantages is the pressure that’s gone off the kitchen – plus we don’t have to worry about people double-booking a table anymore!”

With one unified system recording all bookings centrally, managers can wave goodbye to the chaos of accidental overbooking.

Whether a reservation comes in by telephone, website, email or even carrier pigeon, everything gets logged to the same central system for an accurate real-time view.

Crucially, it also gives you the power to plan, manage and control capacity, rather than simply reacting to demand.



“If you use the table management system you can turn some tables five times in that day. We only cook till eight but we have turned some of the tables around up to six times.”

With knowledge comes power. Zonal Bookings users can effortlessly map out each table and set booking availability times that maximise its use throughout the session, optimising yield.

They can also collect email addresses from online reservations and send them automated reminders ahead of bookings to reconfirm or cancel, reducing the risk of no-shows.



“We used to have to put everything on an Excel sheet and then join tables together, doing table plans for the next day, then going back to update after getting more phone bookings. So you’re looking at two hours’ worth of labour at least.”

Using a purpose-built software solution made for the hospitality industry makes table management electronic, efficient and effortless.



“Last Mother’s Day we did 602 covers in total and our capacity is 160. With the old pen and paper system, we had to increase everyone’s turn time to two hours or more. But now we just let the table management system do what it’s supposed to do.”

On those peak seasonal occasions, harness the table management system to better organise table availability and timings, maximising the amount of covers you can serve.



“If you can make chefs’ lives a little bit easier and still take the same amount of money – actually more – then that’s got to be a bonus. And if they’re under less pressure they’re producing better quality food because they’re not rushing.”

By spreading availability intelligently, venue managers can reduce the high pressure caused by steep peaks in demand and ensure a calmer, better work environment for kitchen staff to produce their best.



“All my team – front and back-of-house – came up and thanked me after Mother’s Day, saying: ‘That was a really great shift, I really enjoyed it.’ And that’s on our busiest day of the year!”

Workplace stress is a notorious feature of hospitality businesses, and in a recent survey 64% of workers complained of getting no help from their employers. Giving your staff a positive, lower pressure working environment can only improve satisfaction and retention.



“It’s so user-friendly. Even your most junior member of staff can easily find customers a table by just pressing quick add. If it’s really busy you can check the waitlist and tell them exactly how long they have to wait.”

EPoS integration gives you real-time visibility of each table – right down to meal stage. This is hugely empowering for front-of-house staff, allowing them to give customers accurate wait-time estimates and say yes or no to walk-ins with confidence.

The simplicity and intuitiveness of Zonal Bookings software makes it user-friendly for all members of the restaurant team to handle. This improves both the promptness and quality of customer interactions.

“I think I want to push our covers to 650 or 700 next Mother’s Day. That will be achievable, if we really focus on manipulating the bookings. If you can push your bigger bookings then you just make more money quite easily without anyone even having to break a sweat.”

And why wait until Mother’s Day? With the fully integrated Zonal bookings and table management system, GMs and operations managers can deliver more covers in any session on any day of the year.

It’s not about wringing more out of your staff, squeezing in another table and chairs, or cutting corners on quality of service.

Instead, harnessing the power of technology to optimise processes can reduce stress and deliver higher yield, using the covers and staff you’ve already got.

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