Collecting a small deposit (10 to 15% of your predicted check average) can significantly reduce no-show rates. This guide offers tips and best practices to follow when requiring deposits for reservations.

Ensuring your policies are updated

By default, guests can’t cancel or reschedule reservations after a deposit has been made. If you want guests to be able to modify their own reservations, you can allow for modifications up until a window of time prior to their reservation. Availability Planning customers can allow their guests to independently cancel or modify prepaid bookings. Contact to request this feature.

To change your cancellation and reschedule policies:

  1. From the Control Panel tab, click Experiences.
  2. Click the experience you want to change, then click Booking method and policy.
  3. Uncheck Use business default policy settings to make changes.
  4. Check the boxes for the policy actions you want to allow for this experience (select all that apply):
    • Allow guests to transfer reservations
    • Allow guests to cancel reservations
    • Allow guests to reschedule reservations 
  5. Click the dropdown to set a Cutoff window for cancellations and reschedules.
  6. Click Save.

Keep in mind when customizing policies:

  • If you choose to allow guests to transfer, cancel, and/or reschedule reservations, they’ll be able to do so independently through their Tock profile. 
  • If you choose not to allow any of these actions, uncheck all 3 boxes; use Tock’s default message for cancellation or write your own.
  • Updates to policies will only affect future bookings. Existing bookings adhere to the policy in place at the time of the booking.

Considering the flow of service

If you defer deposits for any of your guests (regulars, VIPs), you’ll need to communicate that to your staff so they know when to apply a deposit. Most businesses use chits to convey this information, so make sure your compatible chit printer is installed properly, and have your hosts practice printing a few chits.

Guests may have questions about their deposit, so consider running through some FAQs with your front-of-house staff. It’s often helpful to acknowledge the deposit when dropping the check; something like “As a reminder, the Tock deposit you paid to secure the reservation has been deducted from your bill.”

You’ll also want to think about how you’d like gratuity options to be displayed on your guests’ 

checks. Many businesses choose to highlight the original total (before the deposit) on the bill presented to the guest, apply automatic gratuity to certain party sizes, or customize their checks in other ways. 

Enabling a point of sale integration

If your business uses Lightspeed or Toast as their point of sale (POS) system, you can enable an integration to automatically deduct the deposit amount from each guest’s bill. For more information, view our article on Lightspeed and Toast integrations. 

Setting up a custom tender button

Every POS system has the option to set a custom tender, which allows you to deduct a Tock deposit, similar to how a gift card works. Before your first service, we recommend configuring a “Tock Deposit” tender, and printing a practice check to ensure you’re happy with how it’s displayed.

Even if you’re using one of our POS integrations, having a custom tender button configured will allow you to adjust deposit amounts on the fly.

Most POS systems have a report that aggregates payment types, including custom tenders. To check that your staff is ringing in deposits correctly, you can check your POS numbers against Tock’s Income Summary report

Avoiding payment processing delays

To avoid payment processing delays, we recommend not refunding deposits after service. Due to payment processing times, it can sometimes take up to 10 business days for guests to have their funds returned. We’ve found this contributes to higher dispute rates and an overall poor guest experience.

If you have questions about integrating deposits into the flow of your service, we’d be happy to talk through your business’ unique needs. 

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