Managing bookings for Repair Cafe events

Hi all, we are looking to set up our first event at end of March 2023 and I wanted to know how other Repair Cafes manage bookings of items to be fixed.

Do you use email or a website/app or some type of system to take booking slots?

I am not an actual fixer myself and so not sure how long something might take or how many bookings to accept. I know one repair cafe books for 45 min slots.

Also is it best to run for 3 hours or 2 hours? Is 2 hours too short initially? We don’t know the level of demand until we start.

Thanks in advance.


1 Like

Hi Edwina - we used a booking system as we started straight after Covid. We had a person design and set it up ( however you can also set one up using eventbrite - Isle of Wight RC does this. We have just decided to trial not doing bookings for a number of reasons including the fact we get lots of late cancellations, it favours those with internet access, it sets up some pretty big expectations in customers’ minds and so on. Good luck with your launch, it is a wonderful thing to do. For your first event I would limit it to friends and family rather than running a public one so you can probably manage with 2 hours, but three is a good time as it allows the final booking an hour before close and time to clear up. Hope that helps - all the best!


Hi Edwina -

Definitely 3 hours rather than 2 - it goes very quickly. We (St Albans District Fixers) use Eventbrite for booking, with 30 min slots, which we did initially to avoid crowding when covid was more of a concern. I have quite a few fixers on my books but frequently I don’t know for sure I’ll have enough to make the event viable until frighteningly close to the date! Prior to covid I attended quite a few Restart Parties in London which were all first come first served and it nearly always seemed to work out, but then there seemed to be more of a band of us who’d fairly regularly turn up at events.

We find we have plenty of demand. We set up a Facebook group when we started which attracted 500 followers in a couple of weeks! But we made it a group, not a page, which was a mistake as a group can’t have events. For our event next weekend we initially offered 3 electronicals and one fabrics slots per half hour, which filled up quickly. Hopefully by the end of the weekend I might have one or two more fixers committing and we’ll add another electronicals slot per half hour.

We use Eventbrite for booking, but I don’t like it. I find it confusing to navigate, and each half hour slot appears as a separate event. Getting meaningful reports is awkward and somewhat tedious. And I used Doodle to make it easy for fixers to indicate availability, but again, that’s not ideal as it’s geared to finding a consensus for a choice of dates, not availability for a single date.

If you find better tools than Eventbrite and Doodle, do shout them out!


Hi Edwina,

For some events, we’ve used a booking system to help us manage numbers. We tend to use Tito, which is free (for free events), quite powerful and allows you to add different time slots as part of the same event, as well as email people who sign up. I believe we tend to use 45-min slots. The system does take a bit of getting used to, but I quite like it. @frances usually does this for us and may be able to help with any questions about it (although I’ve used it too).

Most groups I know run 3-hour events, although I think Ulverston Repair Café’s events are 2 hours, so @neil or @David_Kyles may be able to say more about how those can work.

I agree with Anne that treating the first event as a kind of small-scale trial can work well.

But in any case, it can help to make sure that visitors to the event know that it’s all volunteer-run and so they may not get seen straight away, even if they do have a registered slot; it’s a community event, not a professional service after all :slight_smile:

It looks like you’ve found a few fixers for your first event :tada: How many do you have confirmed?

Most groups I know run 3-hour events, although I think Ulverston Repair Café’s events are 2 hours, so @neil or @David_Kyles may be able to say more about how those can work.

I’m more involved in fixing and data input than organising at present - however anecdotally I would say that we don’t seem overwhelmed within those 2 hours. Very back-of-the-envelope but glancing at the figures from past events we tend to have perhaps a 2:1 ratio of visitors to volunteers, so around 1hr per repair available on average at a 2 hour event. We’re a small town (~10,000 population) which might make a difference.

Worth mentioning that the 2 hours is when it’s publicised as being open for visitors - we volunteers are usually there ~20 mins either side opening up and closing.


Hi Edwina

I’d definitely recommend 3 hours rather than 2, although 2 hours might be an idea for the first event to trial procedures.
We used appointments during the pandemic but there were problems as sometimes people didn’t show for various reasons and didn’t let us know so there were fixers hangin around with nothing to do. From April we went back to drop in arrangements as the booking system seemed to be quite admin heavy (although I’m still struggling to get fully to grips with Tito). However, we did decide that, if someone was sent off to purchase a part, we could offer them an appointment at the start of the event to save them waiting a second time.
Hope this helps. Good luck. Margaret


Hi Edwina

We do a first come first served system and 3 hours.

We coordinate volunteer availability using the free service on surveymonkey. With the free version you can only see 40 responses per survey so with 75 volunteers I set up two identically surveys and send one link to one half and the other link to the others.

Our average repair times are below:

Clothing / Textiles - 35mins
Computers / IT - 35 mins
Electrical - 30 mins
Jewellery - 17 mins
Knife Sharpening - 15 mins
Mechanical - 27 mins
Miscellaneous - 25 mins

We have a custom written system for handling registrations, repair station allocation, PAT testing, repair data and exit data. It is called Repair Manager and saves hours and hours of admin. Costs us £30 a month and we wouldn’t be without it. If that is of interest email

The only other bit of advice is really sit and plan out the customer journey so you problem solve any glitches ahead of time. If someone can break the system, they will :slight_smile:

Hope that helps

Chris Murphy
Tunbridge Wells Repair Cafe


When I was trying to work out how our repair cafe might work I made an activity list in a spreadsheet showing on each row which role is responsible, what they do, what inputs they need and what the outputs are; that made it easy to explain why something is needed (e.g. potentially a replacement 13A plug if the pre-repair PAT check shows it’s needed, so we need a stock of plugs available), or how something is produced, e.g. the completed repair worksheet, or the “Happy Visitor”. Of course the details would be different with an electronic booking system - for example a laptop is needed to enter the bookings and to update with what happened, and someone would have to bring a printer if the intention is to print paper repair sheets, but the overall flow is still similar.

I also had a ‘repair day’ flow where the repair was just one row.

Looking at the table below we changed a few things; e.g. we stopped putting PAT test stickers on stuff because we don’t have insurance that might be required if the item fails in a catastrophic way after the event and someone wanted to reclaim costs on us because we’d ‘certified’ it was PAT-safe. The PAT testing now is purely to ensure the item is safe for a repairer to plug into a RCD-protected socket, and also to re-check it after repair if relevant for the repair done.

Who What What’s needed What’s produced
Visitor Visitor approaches receptionist
Receptionist Greets visitor, points at ‘What We Can Fix’ and ‘How It Works’ laminated information sheets. If visitor wants to proceeed, receptionist offers them the disclaimer form and directs them to the refreshments area to complete (or the visitor does it immediately)
Visitor Completes the disclaimer form, returns to receptionist
Receptionist Checks if the item is not on the blacklist (CRT monitor, electric blanket, Microwave, petrol/gas/chainsaw, too heavy/dirty/…) - apologises to visitor if it is, but it can’t be fixed :frowning:
Receptionist If visitor has children, inform them about photography, if they agree then visitor signs children photo permission form
Receptionist Checks if the item is awkward/heavy/needs special handling.
Receptionist Gives the visitor a ticket of the colour for the item being fixed, tells host there is someone waiting and what sort of thing they want fixed
Receptionist Receptionist tells host there is a repair waiting and what type of repair it is, and any aspects that may require special/safety-concern handling
Host identifies an available mender for the class of repair, checks with receptionist who is next, finds that visitor in the waiting area, introduces them to the mender, informs mender if the item is heavy/awkward/needs special handling, informs if photos not acceptable, makes sure safety/PAT testing will be done if needed, returns the visitor’s ticket to receptionist.
PAT the Tester (For mains-powered items, PAT testing before mender plugs it in AND after repair is mandatory, as is fitting a new plug if the one on the object has unsheathed Live/Neutral pins).
If necessary, PAT replaces old 13A plug and request small at-cost charge £1 and replaces with modern 13A plug.
New plug (£1) £1 donation (PAT has discretion to not require a donation)
PAT the Tester PAT ensures correct fuse is fitted. Screwdriver
Consumable - Fuses
PAT the Tester PAT does the PAT test and puts pass/fail sticker onto item Calibrated PAT tester with cables
Pass/Fail sticker
PAT Logbook
Marker pen
PAT the Tester If failed PAT notify the mender NOT to plug it in to mains without retest
PAT the Tester PAT directs the visitor to the mender
Mender Handle large/safety-concern items with care Protective Sheet
Mender Mender analyses the problem by asking the visitor questions, examines the object, ensures safety requirements are observer, tries to repair, hopefully fixes it. Mender with their kit
Consumables as required
RCD socket if required
Mender Mender asks visitor to leave, if the object is mains powered they must leave via PAT the Tester or if bike then a bike safety checker otherwise suggests making a donation, directs visitor to leave via host Result form
Donation box
Result form
Donation box
Bike Safety Checker Confirms bike is safe - check saddle/pedals/tyres/brakes/gears
Bike Safety Checker Suggests the visitor to record result, make donation if not already made, directs visitor to leave via host
PAT the Tester PAT retests, logs the result, if pass then leaves the pass label on or if failed removes it, fits new fail label and removes plug (returns £1 if charged)
PAT the Tester PAT directs the visitor to record result, make donation if not already made, directs visitor to leave via host Result form
Donation box
Result form
Donation box
Host If the visitor is amenable, takes picture holding FIXED! sign :slight_smile: Camera
Fixed! sign
Host Host ushers the visitor out
Visitor Visitor leaves the repair area happily carrying a repaired object. Happy visitor

Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. All the responses are really helpful. Thanks to all who have taken the time to reply. I will take them on board as well develop how we do things.

Also @james I have a related question. I’ve set up an event for 25 March on the site and I can see that 8 volunteers have indicated they can attend but I can’t work out who they are which is not very convenient if you are trying to work out who has accepted and can attend the event and which repair skills we are missing. Is there a way to check the responses to an event. Thanks

Hi Edwina - on your event’s page, you can scroll down the list of volunteers to see all the names. And you click on the ‘see all’ link to get the full list and click through to each person’s profile (click on the ‘view profile on Talk’ link on their profile to find them here on the forum).

The system also creates an automatic message thread for everyone who RSVPs to an event. You can find the message thread for this event here. Feel free to use that to send those volunteers a private message :slight_smile:

Great list - thanks. Will try to build on this for what works for us.

Very helpful. Just to note that Facebook groups can create events.

…err, Facebook Pages can create events but Groups can’t. We created a Group which attracted several hundred members in a week or two, but we should have made it a page. The difference wasn’t obvious to us at the time. You can’t convert a group to a page except by creating a new page then declaring the group as closing and hoping you can syphon most of your members across with dire warnings of the end of the world.

Maybe I can create events because I already have a page - This is the event I set up to let people know recently about the Sewing Machine repair session -

Talking from Isle of Wight RC (IoWRC) involvement here. eventbrite works, but it’s not really designed for booking timed slots. I don’t think it’s a great user experience (UX) and it has definitely caused minor confusion when we’ve tried to bend it this way. I’d much rather something a bit better suited, but I’ve not yet found it. While I’ve toyed with getting something written to give a better UX, IoWRC doesn’t have the skillset to maintain a solution.


We ran our first RC without bookings today and I much preferred it. Why? It eliminated a lot of work beforehand. We did not need to: create a booking page for the event, manage the people that booked and then cancelled, mail merge and print out a load of forms in advance with prefilled details.
We had broadly the same number of visitors as before, we managed expectations better as people did not feel because they booked at a particular time they had to see a repairer at a particular time. We were able to book a load of people in and then match up the most suitable repairer based on a whole host of factors and using our knowledge of repairer skills and how long they tend to take for the repair. Our café area was busier, generating more income.
I would recommend giving it a go.


This is great Ian - interesting to cross-check our processes with this.

1 Like

Thanks for all the interesting comments her. Just our twopennyworth from North Hampshire Repair Cafe. We’ve been running a repair cafe across a nuber of sites around North Hampshire for about a year now. @Ian_Barnard very useful workflow which is very close to what we follow. Generally we use an internal WhatsApp group for all the repairers to chat about anything and everything. We rely on our website as our main publicity channel but also facebook and instagram. This uses as our booking system which helps us gauge amount of bookings plus details for each one so we can try and ask questions in advance, gauge spares requirements and get the correct volunteers. helps with quick polls to see who is available for each meeting. So far this is all working ok but we’d still like to see more prebookings as its currently around 60% depending on location. We’ve recently switched to monthly 3 hour sessions from 2 hours and booked larger venues to cope with demand. This puts costs up but so far covered by donations.


Very interesting Anne… how many volunteers do you have and how many customers do you get generally?