Businesses like salons, restaurants, and doctors rely on reservations to keep their seats full. When guests don’t honor their reservations, businesses are left with costly unfilled seats, underutilized staff, wasted food, and slimmer margins. Seatout solves this problem by enabling business owners to optionally charge their guests a deposit in order to make a reservation.
In addition to allowing businesses to recognize revenue earlier, deposits drastically reduce reservation no-show rates. Our working prototype has been used in one restaurant since August 2014, and has reduced the reservation no-show rate from 42% to less than 1% without negatively affecting the rate of incoming reservations.
For more information, see the Reservation Deposit Frequently Asked Questions.
Application and Setup
The process for setting up reservation deposits generally takes less than 10 minutes. Start by logging in to Seatout, and open the settings for your restaurant or business (gear icon). Click on the Reservation Deposits icon. Click on ‘Enable Reservation Deposits’ to begin the application form.
The application contains three sections and a total of 15 fields.
- If you are a sole proprietor, the business information and personal information will likely be the same.
- Tax ID or SSN: If you are a sole proprietor, use your social security number. For all other businesses, use your Employer Identification Number (EIN). EINs are in the format of 2 digits, a dash, followed by 7 more digits.
- Bank Routing Number: The routing number uniquely identifies your bank for the purposes of wire transfers. The routing number is a 9 digit number and is available on your checks. You can also find this on your bank’s website.
- Reservation deposits are only available in the United States.
Seatout will review and validate your application. The approval process generally takes less than 10 minutes, after which you will recieve a confirmation email. During this time, guests can continue to make free reservations.
Changing the Deposit Amount
Once approved, you are free to change the per-person deposit amount at any time. This includes reverting to free reservations. From the Policies page, change the Reservation Deposits amount dropdown list.
Monitoring Incoming Deposit Revenue
Reservation deposit revenue is tracked on the Transactions page. The page lists deposits and refunds, including their amounts, service fees, status, and disbursement date.
- Type: Either Deposit or Refund. Note that refunds are only initiated by your staff. (Guests may not request a refund themselves.)
- Party: The party name
- Reservation: The date of the Reservation
- Deposit: The amount deposited, which is the number of guests in the party multiplied by the per-person deposit amount. A negative number indicates a refund.
- Service Fee: Seatout’s service fee. See the fee structure for more details.
- Your Revenue: The balance of the reservation deposit which will be deposited into your bank account.
- Status: The settlement status for the transfer. (See below.)
- Disbursed: If shown, this is the date that funds were transferred to your bank account. (Note that the funds may take an additional day to appear in your account.)
Statuses may be one of the following values:
- Authorized: The first step is to ask the customer’s bank if the payment method is legitimate and has sufficient funds to pay for your product or service. If the customer’s bank approves, the transaction is Authorized. This puts a hold on the funds, meaning the customer isn’t able to spend that money, but it doesn’t take any funds out just yet.
- Submitted for Settlement: This is a request to collect funds.
- Settling: This is a transitory state. While the processors and the banks are working out the details of the exchange of funds, the transaction will be Settling. The amount of time this takes is dependent on the processing bank.
- Settled: This is when the money moves from your customer’s bank through your merchant account. Once the money hits your merchant account, the transaction will display as Settled, and the funds will be routed to your bank account.
Tracing and Debugging Transactions
The Change History will give more details logs of incoming reservations, refunds, and settings changes. Use this page to determine when changes were made and who made the changes.