8 ways pub technology can really help cut costs and boost the bottom line

It seems everything is going up.

News cycles are dominated by hikes in fuel and food prices, utilities, import charges and the general cost of living. Add in a staffing crisis and the pressures of running a hospitality business, and things are arguably more challenging than ever before. The natural temptation is to cut costs and raise prices. And while both of these options have their place, so too does investing in technology that can reduce your costs overall.

Here are eight ways technology can really help your numbers.

  1. Keeping a closer eye on stock control

With many ingredients and items facing double-digit price increases, it is vital to know precisely what you are spending. An effective stock management tool will allow you to monitor exactly what is going out of the business and help you adjust accordingly by either changing recipes or searching for new suppliers.

  1. What about waste?

Another major issue is losing cash through wastage. Of course, waste of some kind is inevitable, but by using a stocktaking solution that allows you to look at what is either not being ordered, what’s being wasted in the kitchen and what is coming back on the plate, you can monitor portion sizes and reduce over-ordering of ingredients. Keeping on top of waste not only helps the bottom line but also to achieve sustainability ambitions.

  1. Mistakes will be made…

You may have the best staff around, but human error will always be a factor in any busy hospitality business. This can be tracked using reporting functionality within your EPoS. Not only can you see what is and isn’t selling, it can also pinpoint where errors are being made on the till or with payment devices and highlight them to reduce the problem.

  1. Cash free payments

More and more businesses are going cash-free, and it’s easy to see why. Contactless payment devices are not only more efficient, but they also remove any risks associated with cash. The less cash you have in the business, the less there is that can go missing.

  1. Make them an offer they can’t refuse

Tech allows you to create, schedule and tweak promotions linked to what is working in the business and what stock you have available. This saves time and also potentially money in terms of hours worked. You can consider producing bounce-back offers on receipts and by collating data you can also create offers for customers on key occasions such as birthdays.

  1. Order and pay

It was on its way before, but the pandemic certainly changed the way customers feel about ordering and paying with technology. For many it became a preferred option, meaning they can order drinks or food without running the risk of losing their chosen spot or facing a queue at the bar. With recruitment and the cost of staffing an ongoing issue, this reduces the strain on your staff, and allows the staff you do have to achieve more, by getting customers to perform some of that role themselves.

  1. Money up front

Not only are customers happy to order themselves they are also becoming increasingly more comfortable with the concept of deposits. In research last year, 51% told us they would be happy to pay a deposit when booking a table in a restaurant or pub. . Taking deposits will reduce the dreaded no –shows, which have so many negative consequences including lost revenue and wasted stock, but also means more cash flowing into the business.

  1. Turning tables into profits

A digital table management tool, such as the one in Zonal’s suite of solutions, is more than just a way of knowing how many customers are coming to dine with you. You can also set the system so it knows the volumes you can cope with during given trading periods, taking the strain off your team. Having the ability to control those numbers and access to the data at your fingertips means you can reduce money spent on staff and give available tables to walk-ins. Again, having such an effective system could reduce labour hours and help your profits.

Zonal has a wide range of technology solutions designed to make life easier and businesses more profitable. Find out more about our range designed specifically with pub tenants and licensees in mind, here!

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    How to reduce queues, increase speed of service and grow profits in your garden centre restaurant

    Long gone are the days where garden centres were simply a place for consumers to pick up a petunia or two. As the popularity of Santa’s Grottos at Christmas demonstrate, a trip to a garden centre is now a full experience and, as a result, food and drink has become more important than ever.

    Restaurant and café operations have become an increasingly vital revenue stream for the sector. However, with new opportunities, come new challenges, and with the recent eye-watering increases in overheads, the pressure is on to find ways to drive increased spend and improve the customer experience.

    In order to achieve this, technology that’s geared up to handle the unique demands of an F&B operation is key. As hospitality tech experts with proven experience in the garden centre sector, we’ve put together our three top tips on how garden centres can leverage hospitality tech in their restaurants and cafes to reduce queues, increase speed of service and grow profits.

    1. Quicker queues and less waiting!

    While trading in garden cafés and restaurants remains steady through most of the day, there are nevertheless key trading times, as there are in any hospitality venue. It’s therefore important to have the right technology in place to help staff manage high footfall and reduce the amount of time customers are required to queue to be seated or served. For example, technology that enables customers to be added to a wait list and be alerted via a text when their table is available. This speeds up service, enables customers to shop while they wait for their table rather than simply leaving to find an alternative, and allows staff to serve more people – improving the overall customer experience.

    While pre-booking a table may not have been something that has played a huge role in garden centre restaurants and cafés to-date, we know that three quarters (76%) of consumers say they have pre-booked to eat or drink out since the end of Britain’s first lockdown in summer 2020. Having the assurance that their table is booked and ready waiting for them has become a customer priority. With this in mind, implementing booking technology that allows customers to reserve a table, helps to improve the customer experience, as well as reducing queues and wait times during peak times – such as when the Santa’s Grotto is running or over the summer holidays.

    1. Go mobile to speed up service

    It’s important for F&B managers to take into consideration the main points of friction that can occur during the customer journey. We know, something which is echoed in our GO Technology report from this year, that convenience and speed of service is important to customers. More than a quarter (29%) now expect to receive updates about things like the status and timing of their orders, and another 46% would welcome them.

    The key to speeding up operations whilst maintaining high-quality customer service is by leveraging technology to process customer orders quicker. Handheld ordering devices for staff is a solution, which is cost effective and can also speed-up orders and wait times. Providing staff with handheld devices reduces the reliance on fixed terminals and can also help to reduce mistakes when inputting orders. This also frees up staff to focus on delivering great customer service.

    1. Grow profits

    There is also back-of-house tech, such as stock and ordering technology that takes the guesswork out of stock control by providing real-time availability. If implemented into garden centre cafés and restaurants, managers will be able to more easily ensure they are maximising the profitability of each product they stock. Meanwhile, inventory and ordering systems developed specifically for the hospitality sector, would give garden centre café and restaurant managers tighter control over their purchasing. Such systems eliminate the risk of over-ordering, minimise wastage and avoid a situation where cash is tied up in stock.  Consolidating and joining these systems will also highlight where inefficiencies lie, improve reporting at all levels and increase profitability as a result.

    If you would like to reduce queues, increase speed of service and grow profits in your garden centre restaurant or cafe, get in touch with us today and one of our experts will be in touch to discuss your requirements!

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      Hospitality table booking trends in 2022

      In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, going online for many consumers is their first (and only) port of call when searching for pubs, bars and restaurants to visit.

      Social media has evolved from a place to keep in contact with friends and family, to an environment where people can also follow and engage with their favourite brands, and search engines have overwhelmingly become the place consumers to go find information about products and services. In more recent years, these platforms have also become the go-to place for customers to make bookings.

      But how do customers use social media platforms and search engines to find hospitality venues? What are they looking for? How do they want to book? And more importantly, where is their behaviour headed in the future?

      In our latest GO Technology research report, produced in association with hospitality insights company, CGA, and social bookings experts Mozrest, we discovered how 5,000 consumers are using social media and search engines. Download the report to discover how they’re engaging with their favourite hospitality brands on these platforms and the massive opportunities for savvy operators and marketers to leverage Google and social media to boost bookings and generate more revenue – not just now, but in the future.

      Why should I download this report?

      You’ll discover…

      • Key social media statistics for 2022 that affect the UK hospitality industry
      • How to leverage direct bookings through Facebook, Instagram and Google Reservations
      • How people are searching for venues using Google and virtual assistants like Alexa
      • The importance of social media channels used by 18 to 24-year-olds such as Snapchat and TikTok
      • Ideas for how to use social media to increase table bookings

      Download the full report to discover the future of bookings.

      Download your research report


        Webinar | GO Technology Consumer Research: Make it personal

        In our recent GO Technology Consumer Research: Make it personal we discovered how personalisation can deepen customers’ engagement within pubs, bars and restaurants, and what businesses need to do to master it.

        In the webinar below we reveal findings from the research alongside industry experts from CGA and Airship.

        What we’ll be covering:

        • What customers expect in terms of personalisation
        • How the approach to personalisation differs according to age, gender and geography
        • How to overcome barriers to personalisation
        • Our ten top tips for successful personalisation


        • Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal
        • Dan Brookman, CEO, Airship
        • Karl Chessell, CGA Business Unit Director – hospitality operators and food, CGA

        Access this free webinar


          Boost your bookings with a free system health check

          Zonal has partnered with strategic sales and marketing experts, Bums on Seats, to offer customers a free strategic bookings audit and health check.

          In partnership with Bums on Seats, we will work with you to identify opportunities for sales growth and process improvements, covering all aspects of the customer journey from first impressions through to the post-visit experience.

          What will the health check include?

          • Customer booking behaviour
            Using your data, the team will identify trends in your customer booking behaviour and produce a report highlighting opportunities for sales growth or changes to their behaviour that might better suit your business.
          • Customer booking process
            The team will review your end-to-end customer booking process to ensure the journey is optimised and as frictionless as possible.
          • System optimisation
            Looking at site-level operations, Bums on Seats will ensure you are making the best use of your Zonal reservations systems and any additional applications you may use.

          The health check will allow you and your team to identify clear actions that can be implemented as quick wins, as well as longer term solutions to improve efficiency and business resilience.

          The FREE Bookings Health Check is only available for Zonal customers using our Reservations Systems.

          Claim your free bookings health check


            Webinar | Zonal x Bums on Seats: Booking trends for 2022


            Consumers are back and table bookings are on the rise. Are you ready?

            Zonal have partnered with strategic sales and marketing hospitality experts, Bums on Seats, to bring you this hugely topical, free webinar, led by Zonal’s Group Product Director Alison Vasey and CEO and founder of Bums on Seats Amber Staynings.

            In the webinar we discuss:

            • The benefits of bookings
            • 2022 V 2021
            • Consumer booking trends
            • Opportunities for hospitality businesses

            Watch our on-demand webinar now to find out how to maximise this huge opportunity >>

            Access this free webinar


              Guide: 12 tips for Christmas

              With Christmas just weeks away and the festive season already in full swing, restaurants, pubs and bars are getting ready for the most critical trading period of the year. But what should operators be doing to prepare for the Christmas period as we enter the month of December?

              To help you with your Christmas plans, Zonal, together with our good friends at Bums on Seats, and Wireless Social have put together twelve top tips to help your festive season go with a bang.

              Download the 12 tips for Christmas guide to find out more about:

              • How to optimise your booking platform and eliminate no-shows
              • The most effective ways to communicate with booked guests
              • How to maximise your venue’s visibility
              • Ways to encourage guest Wi-Fi log ins

              And much more…..

              Download the full guide

                5 ways to help prevent no-shows this Christmas

                Christmas no-shows blog image
                With footfall this Christmas forecast to reach pre-pandemic levels – 3.3 million people have already made a reservation for the festive period, according to research from KAM Media – operators need to be looking at how to minimise the risk of no-shows during this key trading period.

                Our Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Olivia FitzGerald, shares her advice on how to encourage guests to turn up for reservations.

                1. Send reminders

                On that topic, staying in touch with customers once they have booked is an effective way to prevent no-shows – our recent GO Technology research in partnership with CGA, showed that among consumers who haven’t fulfilled a booking because they forgot about it, more than a third (36%) said they would be more likely to show up if the venue reminded them.

                Key to this approach is timing, with just over a quarter of people saying they’d like to be reminded on the day, while 38% prefer a few days in advance and 11% a week ahead. This needn’t become a hugely onerous task, technology can be employed to send automated responses and reminders.

                2. Deposits

                There is no doubt that a large number of operators remain nervous about asking customers for deposits but, as over half (51%) of consumers say they would be willing to pay to secure their booking, it’s worth at least considering the policy for certain trading periods.

                Used sparingly, for busy nights and key occasions – two thirds of people said they would be happy to pay a deposit for a special occasion (65%) or a special day (63%), for example – deposits can act as a powerful incentive. Blanket application, however would be damaging as some groups (notably 18 to 24-year-olds, according to the research) would not welcome them, nor are most people happy to pay a deposit for a more casual night out (only 41%, in fact).

                High days and holidays only then, but think beyond the more obvious Halloween and Mother’s Day opportunities to include busy Saturday nights and/or particularly coveted areas, such as booths or snugs.

                3. Make it easy to cancel

                The old school telephone remains important when it comes to customers wanting to cancel a booking, with 39% of people saying this is how they’d prefer to do it. The majority (58%), however, prefer to cancel digitally, which could be via text, email, app or website.

                In the fight against no-shows, then, offering choice is important. It also stands to reason that the more hassle cancelling is, the less people are likely to do it, so whichever method they choose, optimising technology to make it as simple as possible will reap rewards.

                4. Adopt an over-booking policy

                While standard practice in some industries, such as airlines, it is not in common use in hospitality – but is it time for a rethink?

                Like the use of deposits, generally operators are wary of this idea but there are ways by which risk can be mitigated. By using data and insights from tech systems, for example, businesses can work out exactly how much they might be able to over-book without damaging business.

                Combining this with a system in which some tables are always kept free for walk-ins and training for staff in how to handle such a situation will help minimise the risk, as it makes sense to take additional bookings in order to compensate for those that are lost.

                5. Take a targeted approach

                The GO Technology report revealed that of those who failed to show up for bookings young people and parents were the worst offenders  – which is bad news as these are two of the most valuable groups to the trade.

                Across all demographics, 14% of people said that since re-opening in April they hadn’t turned up for a booking and hadn’t told the venue. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, however, that number rises to 28% (and 64% of those eat out weekly). Over the same period 15% of parents failed to turn up for their booking and, perhaps even more concerning, one-fifth of them (21%) say they are more likely to no-show than they were before the pandemic, much higher than those without children (6%).

                When resources are tight then, targeting these groups with follow-up messages and making it as easy as possible for them to cancel could reap rewards. Similarly if you have a bumper booking of young people or parents one evening, perhaps then is the time to consider overbooking or to implement deposits.

                Four Cs to reducing no-shows: 

                • Communicate – your booking policy, so customers know what to expect on their journey from making a reservation to arriving in venue
                • Consider taking a deposit. Over half (55%) of consumers say they would be willing to pay a no-show fee if they didn’t turn up to their reservation.
                • Confirm – stay in touch with customers after they have booked. Our research showed that among consumers who haven’t fulfilled a booking because they forgot about it, more than a third (36%) said they would be more likely to show up if the venue reminded them
                • Connect – building loyalty is essential, especially among younger customers. Make the most of technology to build and reward loyalty and stay in contact with personalised communications to enhance that relationship.

                Show Up For Hospitality Logo

                Join the campaign to make no-shows a thing of the past

                No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.6 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

                Learn about the campaign

                Get in touch

                Chat with our sales team to learn about how Zonal products could benefit you.

                  Restaurant no-shows: How uncertainty is making staffing even harder

                  Guest blog by RotaCloud

                  It’s clear from Zonal’s no-show statistics that public behaviour has to change if our pubs and restaurants are ever to fully recover from the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19.

                  But customer no-shows aren’t only affecting restaurants’ bottom lines — they’re also having a serious impact on the lives of their employees, as well as making the already severe staffing crisis even worse.

                  According to RotaCloud research, in June this year, 85% of UK hospitality businesses were actively recruiting staff. Of these businesses, 77% said that they were having difficulty finding staff.

                  Pub and restaurant owners have been working hard to plug the holes in their workforces ever since covid restrictions were lifted. But the industry as a whole remains severely understaffed, and as we head towards the Christmas and New Year season there are concerns that we may see more closures as a result.

                  When a party fails to show up for the table that they’ve booked, logic dictates that it eats into that business’ profits. From the food prepared to the number of staff on the rota, there’s a plethora of costs that must be borne — and that can’t be recouped — should the day not go to plan.

                  But there’s also an enormous knock-on effect for staff, and the industry in general.

                  With fewer covers, and therefore less work for staff to do, managers are often left with a difficult decision to make: do they find busywork for their staff, or do they try to minimise their losses by asking staff if they’d be willing to go home early?

                  Neither of these outcomes are good.

                  In the first instance, the business takes the financial hit, paying their staff for the hours they were originally set to work, despite the fact that takings are down.

                  In the second, the business still suffers but employees also go home with less pay than they’d anticipated — something that few, if any, of us can afford to do right now.

                  As no-shows become more and more common, rota managers also begin to second-guess themselves. With one in seven bookings now expected not to show up, should managers continue to plan their staff rotas based on expected demand, or should they intentionally schedule fewer team members (and risk being overwhelmed if everyone does show up)? Should their staff, in turn, expect to be sent home early more often? When employees can no longer rely on the hours they’re given, and when pubs and restaurants risk going out of business simply by covering their labour costs, it’s hardly surprising that staff should be reluctant to hang around, instead seeking the routine and relative financial stability offered by roles in other industries.

                  During this incredibly difficult time, what our restaurants, pubs, and bars need is a boost. They need the work they do keeping staff and patrons safe while providing high levels of service to be rewarded, and for their staff to feel secure in their jobs, not left wondering whether they’ll have their shifts cut short or take home enough money to make ends meet.[Text Wrapping Break][Text Wrapping Break]It’s vital that we — as food lovers, as bar-hoppers, as pub-goers — do our bit to help our hospitality businesses recover. And that starts with making no-shows a thing of the past.

                  Tips for managing hospitality staff in an uncertain climate  

                  • Keep your team in the loop. The only thing worse than being asked to go home early is when you show up for a shift, only to find out you’re no longer needed. Put a system in place to ensure that staff are made aware of any changes to the schedule as quickly, and as far in advance, as possible, so that they have time to make alternate plans. Keep your team aware of the issues you’re facing and communicate with them regularly.
                  • Build in time contingency plans. When customers don’t show, try to use the downtime for something else. Have a list of tasks on hand that can be worked through by your team during quieter periods. Alternatively, use this time for training and development, and upskilling or reskilling of staff.
                  • Use labour forecasting tools. Labour forecasting tools — software that uses past revenue data to accurately predict future staffing needs — not only makes scheduling easier but reduces the chances of overspending on staffing, taking some of the pressure off your business in the event that a booking fails to turn up. Identifying any micro-trends from previous weeks or months of data could help to better predict future no-shows.



                  About RotaCloud

                  RotaCloud is a simple, fuss-free way to help businesses manage their staff. It cuts down on admin and helps busy managers schedule shifts, record employee time and attendance and keep track of things like sickness and annual leave. All the tools you need to make organising a team quick and easy, in one place. To try RotaCloud for free, just head to

                  Show Up For Hospitality Logo

                  Join the campaign to make no-shows a thing of the past

                  No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.6 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

                  Learn about the campaign

                  Get in touch

                  Chat with our sales team to learn about how Zonal products could benefit you.

                    Parents: More likely to no-show, less likely to understand the impact

                    ShowUpForHospitality parents blog header image
                    By Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Zonal

                    As part of our latest campaign #ShowUpForHospitality, we have taken a deep dive into the whys and wherefores of no-shows in hospitality – a practice that costs the industry an astonishing £17.5bn a year.

                    Our research, in partnership with CGA, found that younger consumers are particular offenders but a second group also emerged as more likely to no show than others – parents.

                    Since hospitality reopened in April 2021, 15% of parents have failed to turn up for their booking without telling the venue in advance (compared to only 4% of non-parents). Perhaps even more concerning to operators, however, one-fifth (21%) say they are more likely to no-show than they were before the pandemic – much higher than those without children (6%).

                    Worryingly, this group is extremely valuable to hospitality. Consumers with children are more frequent visitors to venues, with 37% of parents visiting the trade once a week compared to 24% of non-parents and the research shows they also spend more per month. Yet they are also the least likely to recognise the damage not turning up does to pubs, bars and restaurants, with a mere 35% of parents saying they recognise and understand the impact not turning up has on such business, compared to 47% of non-parents.

                    All this demonstrates why it is vital that hospitality businesses put in place tools to allow busy parents to amend or cancel bookings if needed. And this is particularly true now, as we approach Christmas – a key trading period that in 2021 will be even more significant to the industry than it usually is, given that last year Christmas got cancelled.

                    With this in mind, here’s some key ideas and advice to help you encourage parents, and indeed anyone likely not to turn up, to #ShowUpForHospitality.

                    • Clear communication with parents

                    Parents are busy and the research shows that has a knock-on effect to hospitality because 17% of parents said they forget about their reservations. Some 15% say they did not honour a booking due to not being reminded and a further 14% agree that they would be less likely to no-show if they were contacted by the venue ahead of their booking.

                    This highlights the importance of keeping in touch with this group in particular. So, we recommend setting up email or text alerts to remind customers about their booking ahead of their arrival.

                    • Provide parents with multiple ways to amend a booking

                    Providing multiple options for frazzled parents to cancel their reservations is key. Our research has revealed that 45% of parents are more interested in using digital channels to help them cancel and amend bookings vs 36% of non-parents. Bear this mind and make sure you switch on multiple channels to make life easier for them.

                    From email, text and app to online functions, ensuring the correct digital tools are in place will help customers inform you that they need to cancel and help you encourage them to amend their booking as opposed to cancelling completely.

                    • Consider deposits

                    Interestingly, in general consumers have become more willing to pay to secure a booking and even pay a fee if they don’t show up and there’s no evidence to suggest parents feel any differently. In fact, the research shows 51% of UK pub and restaurant goers are happy to pay a deposit to book a table, and even more (55%) are in favour of paying no-show fees.

                    Whereas traditionally there has been a scepticism and nervousness around the use of deposits and no-show fees in hospitality, this latest insight shows that, while a blanket approach may not be the optimum way forward for operators, consumers are far more inclined to accept them than we previously thought – and for a wider range of occasions.

                    This shows that deposits and no-show fees shouldn’t just be reserved for high-end restaurants or Valentine’s Day and Christmas but are a legitimate tool for reducing no shows during busy trading periods.

                    Show Up For Hospitality Logo

                    Join the campaign to make no-shows a thing of the past

                    No-shows cost the hospitality industry an estimated £17.6 billion in lost sales every year. Join our group of passionate industry supporters to help spread the message far and wide and encourage customers to #ShowUpForHospitality.

                    Learn about the campaign

                    Get in touch

                    Chat with our sales team to learn about how Zonal products could benefit you.