Do you know what time you get the most orders on Thursdays? How long will your current stock of tomatoes last you? Whether your lunch clients crave salads or soups?
These days, restaurant operations depend on more digital tools than ever, and you may not be using the wealth of data you have available to you. There’s detailed information about everything from your bestsellers to spend patterns—valuable insights to help you staff more efficiently and manage your inventory.
This information—your restaurant data and analytics—can help you better understand the factors that affect your restaurant’s profitability.
Think about all the different types of software you use to run your business, from your POS system to your first-party ordering platform, and third-party ordering apps. You may also have a CRM for marketing purposes and use additional programs to maintain stock, complete orders and staff your restaurants.
Each of these platforms contains critical information you can use to make better business decisions. Here’s how—and why—you need to pay attention to your restaurant data analytics.
Why Restaurant Analytics?
Those questions we posed at the beginning of the article? After spending years building your restaurant from the ground up, you may think you know the correct answers.
But as you delve into the actual metrics of your operation, you might be surprised at some of the patterns you didn’t know about or never noticed. You might even find that your gut has been wrong all along.
While no app can replace hands-on hospitality experience, there’s no question that digital records are more accurate—and easier to maintain—than physical recordkeeping. You can also organize digital information in charts to make it more digestible. This way, it’s much easier to see trends and make projections, especially when compared to poring over paper records, hoping to spot a pattern in the raw data.
When restaurant owners rely solely on intuition, they could make costly mistakes. For example, suppose you manage more than one location, and you’re pressed for time. In that case, it’s an easy shorthand to figure that they’re all experiencing the same challenges and make decisions based on this potentially incorrect assumption. Check the data to ensure the changes you’re making are backed by the numbers, not just your best guess.
Taking Data-Backed Decisions to Grow your Restaurant
You may now recognize the importance of reviewing your restaurant data analytics, but where do you go from here? How do you go from numbers and spreadsheets to actionable insights? Let’s explore a few key areas.
These reports can show you your take-out vs dine-in numbers, your sales by menu item type, sales totals per waitstaff and daily sales, to name a few valuable metrics.
From this information, you can determine whether you need to staff up in-house or speed up your takeaway services, what parts of the menu perform well and which need tweaking, and who your strongest team members are in terms of sales. Even data on the payments themselves could prove helpful—perhaps you need additional terminals or self-serve options to increase the number of people served.
Ultimately, your revenues and profit margins sustain your business, so keeping an eye on the stats relating to incoming payments is a great place to start really harnessing the benefits of reviewing your restaurant data analytics.
Guest-specific data can be very insightful—providing information on your most loyal customers, how much they spend and tip, how frequently they patronize your establishment, and how often they take advantage of coupons and deals.
If you have a loyalty program, it can be a trove of useful knowledge, giving you a glimpse into the minds of your consumers—what motivates and draws them in. In case you don’t, we wrote a quick article on how restaurant brands can build a loyalty program that works
Based on this information, you can create excitement around your brand with personalized offers and reminders for your favorite customers while targeting your marketing to your more infrequent clients to increase uptake based on their purchase patterns. For example, you can offer a discount on a niche menu item that your die-hard fans adore while pushing for more awareness of a monthly wing night that has the potential to bring in big numbers with the general public.
Your people are your greatest asset, and treating them that way is essential! Too few staff and you risk impatient diners and lost profits. Too many staff and you’re wasting money on labor costs.
If you understand your restaurant’s traffic patterns well, you’ll be able to staff your operations in a way where everything is working optimally. This keeps both your employees and your patrons happy.
While staffing snafus can still happen, you can make them less likely by reviewing your scheduling analytics during peak and quiet periods, holidays and weekends, and special events. Again, you may find patterns you weren’t necessarily expecting or ones that go against common wisdom. Tweak your staff complements accordingly, and remember to reassess your results as you go. Over time, you’ll become better and better at accurately predicting the number of employees you’ll need on any given night.
Maintain control during times of transition
Restaurant owners are no strangers to pivots. Over the past years, eateries have gone from dine-in to take-out only, branching out into offering meal kits, selling branded items and setting up outdoor seating, and finally now, back to some semblance of normal.
By evaluating your restaurant data analytics from each stage of pandemic restrictions, you may yield some valuable insights that can help you reduce the friction and increase profitability in the event of any new future restrictions.
Using past metrics during a time with similar public health guidelines as a point of reference could help you prepare for changes in your customers’ behavior.
Understanding how to use your restaurant data and analytics will give you some key advantages, particularly as we move into a period where consumers report increased economic concerns and dampened optimism. You’ll be able to make quick revisions in your restaurant planning and projections, shift staff, edit inventory orders and create value-added offers if needed.
While no software can do it all, an excellent first-party platform can seamlessly integrate your customer-facing functions, such as payment, ordering, delivery and loyalty programs.
As a result, it can help provide big-picture insights with the context you need to make informed decisions. A first-party app will also give you better control over the customer experience, allowing you to make necessary changes on-demand as your analytics present real-time opportunities.
About Smooth Commerce
Smooth Commerce is a digital ordering, customer marketing and loyalty platform for restaurants. We take ordering to the next level with personalized customer engagement, making your digital storefront the cornerstone of your brand. By solving more restaurant pain points in one digital platform than anyone else, we put you back in control of the customer’s experience with your brand to promote profitable sales growth.
If you would like to learn more or talk to a representative from Smooth Commerce about how our platform can help you meet your loyalty goals, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.