How to Set Up Table Reservations for Restaurants
As a restaurant owner, you may be looking for additional ways to maintain safe social distancing when customers choose to visit your location in-person, whether to dine-in or place a takeout order. To help you serve these customers now, you can create bookable time slots using Square Appointments. Although Square Appointments does not support traditional table reservations, we’ve recently made some adjustments to accommodate your business needs.
Square Appointments is easy for you to set up and simple for your customers to use. Just share a link to your online booking site to allow customers to reserve their table or other type of reservation. Your customers can also schedule their appointment through your existing website with a booking widget or button, through your Instagram account, or via your Google Maps listing.
How to get started
1. Activate Appointments
• Using a desktop or laptop, find Appointments within the side navigation bar on Square Dashboard or navigate to squareup.com/appointments/ and log in with your primary Square account.
2. Set up your party sizes as services
• Within the Services section of your Appointments Dashboard, create services like “Party for 1”, “Party for 2” and so on to allow customers to define the table size they will need. For each party size, define the estimated duration of the reservation and optionally block extra time (e.g. 30 mins) after each reservation for cleaning etc.
• Keep the price set to variable.
• Please note that we are unable to support varying table turn times at the moment (e.g. 1 hour turn time for day time reservations, and 2 hour turn time for dinner reservations for a party of 2)This is a legacy feature of Appointments, where traditional Beauty & Hair Sellers offer bookable “services” such as hair cutting appointments.
3. Create your tables
Create your tables by creating new “employees” to represent the number of tables that can be reserved at the same time (side note: We hope to update this terminology for tables in the future). Find Staff within your Appointments Dashboard and click Add employee for each of the tables you have available for booking.
• Create each table by creating an ‘employee’ and enter your table identifier in the first name field, ‘Table 1’ for example, and the number of people the table seats in parentheses in the last name field, (4) for example.
• Leave the email address and phone number fields bank
• Scroll to Notifications and uncheck the boxes for Emails and Text Messages (SMS)
• For each table, scroll down until you see ‘Services offered during online booking’. Here you can select what party sizes each table can accommodate. E.g. Table 6 is a 6 top, so it’s ‘services’ are ‘Party of 5’ and ‘Party of 6’. Please note that if you wish to seat smaller parties at tables that can accommodate larger parties, simply select the smaller “services”. In the image below, this restaurant allows for a minimum of 1 cover, and a maximum of 6 covers to be seated at Table 6.
• Once you’ve created your desired capacity limit, find Settings > Calendar & Booking within your Appointments Dashboard to turn on the option to remove staff selection from your online booking site. This will prevent customers from seeing the “employee” or table number they will be reserving to prevent confusion.
4. Confirm your reservation preferences
• Find Settings > Calendar & Booking within your Appointments Dashboard to set up your reservation preferences, such as whether you want reservations to be scheduled on a certain time (e.g. half hour) or how far in advance customers can make a reservation.
• For best practice, we recommend that reservations be made at least an hour to a day in advance.
• As this feature is still being iterated upon, we recommend that you enable “Business must accept or decline all appointment requests” to prevent overbooking, and to give yourself the ability to change the automatically assigned “employee” (table) if you need to rearrange reservations.
5. Customize your customer notifications
• Find Settings > Communications within your Appointments Dashboard to customize settings related to customer notifications, including an optional message in the email notifications and setting how far in advance to send customer reminders via text message and/or email.
• You can set up reminders and confirmation requests at your preferred times.
• You can set how far in advance customers can book an appointment, reschedule or cancel an appointment.
• For best practice, we recommend sending confirmation requests via text and/or email at least 1 day prior to the reservation, to lower the risk of no-shows.
• Please note that most communications will use the word “appointment” instead of the preferred word “reservation”, as this is a legacy feature of Square Appointments
7. Optionally set up if you would like customers to input a credit card to hold the reservation
• Under Settings > Payments and cancellations, select ‘Booking with no-show protection’.
• If a customer no-shows or cancels outside your cancellation limit, you can set what you would like to charge them. You can select a flat fee per service, or create individual cancellation fees under each ‘Service’.
8. Optionally set up if you’d like customers to put down a deposit to hold the reservation
• Under Settings > Payments and cancellations, select “Require Prepayment”
• Please note that if you choose this option, you will have to return to Items > Service Library to use a Fixed Price on each “service” created.
• As you will be using Square Point of Sale, or the Square for Restaurants app, you will need to apply a dollar amount discount to the diner’s order in the deposit amount. Example: Restaurant A requires a deposit of $50/person, so their service “Party of 2” would have a Fixed Price of $100. When the party dines, a discount of $100 is applied to their order, and the diners are obligated to pay the remaining balance.
9. Time to go live!
• Find Booking Site within the Online Booking section of your Appointments Dashboard to set up your online reservation flow and learn how to share the link with your customers, embed within your existing website, and even add a booking button to your emails.
• If your site is powered by Square Online, you can easily add your reservation options from your Square Online Overview page site editor by adding Square Appointments as a menu item to your navigation bar.
Setting a max cover limit on a per hour and/or per day basis - not currently available
Workaround: manually accepting/declining all reservations to ensure you are complying with local ordinances regarding total number of persons allowed inside at a time
Automatically showing no reservations available for holidays - not currently available
Workaround: In Appointments > Calendar, click Edit Availability and scroll to the holiday date in question, and uncheck it to prevent bookings on that date. You will need to apply this change to all of your “employees” (tables)
Assigning your “employees” (tables) to specific sections - not currently available
Pre defined occasions for Diners to choose from when booking - not currently available
Displaying additional restaurant information (e.g. Dress Code, Accepted Payment Methods, etc.) on booking site - not currently available
Automatically creating joined tables to accommodate larger parties - not currently available
Workaround: Create additional “employees” (tables) called “Table 1 & 2” and select the service “Party of 3” and “Party of 4” (if Table 1 & 2 are both 2 tops)
Reservation statuses - not currently available
The only status available at the moment is “No Show”
Displaying elapsed time or time remaining for a reservation - not currently available
Integration between Square Appointments and Square Point of Sale/Square for Restaurants app - not currently available