Are you really in touch with your customers? Sure, you offer great food, outstanding restaurant customer service, and change your menu in tune with word-of-mouth feedback. But, while you’re scouring comment cards and Yelp reviews, veritable tons of data can be eluding your team, affecting long-term viability and your bottom line.

Yes, a restaurant point-of-sale system gives you access to myriad data points to ponder when making customer-facing decisions. But data is meaningless without an understanding of what to look for, and how to use it.

Optimizing operations with customer details

Though it might sounds a little Orwellian, every swipe of a credit card offers you a slew of valuable information (no, we don’t mean the card numbers). Billing addresses, ZIP codes, loyalty card use, average spending per visit, even food preferences – all of these items can give invaluable data about what’s working in your restaurant, and what needs attention.

upserve restaurant credit card payments processing

Once you have this information in hand, you can use it to better target your marketing and promotions, and even dive deeper to optimize a specific menu. For example, if you see that an overwhelming amount of your weeknight dinner customers come from the same area, with a notable percentage ordering seafood, you can target your planning accordingly.

Deeper analysis of sales

Chances are, you’re already using your restaurant POS to gather sales data for inventory. But are you leveraging this information to determine:

These are just three seemingly minute pieces of data that can lead to significant savings of time and resources, affording you the flexibility to map out weeks and months in advance. Imagine what you could do with 10 or more.

Analyzing customer payment types

Most restaurant owners don’t give much thought to payment, as long as the cards clear and the cash is green. But big data allows owners to track spending types by method – credit, debit, PayPal, prepaid/gift card or even e-check. Are 85% of your customers using Visa? Do they spend more per check when using a gift card vs. straight payment? The list of possibilities is virtually endless.

This opens doors to numerous marketing and promotional opportunities such as working with credit companies to offer benefits for using their products in your restaurant, customer bonuses gift card purchases, and more.

Waitress delivering restaurant customer service

Marketing benefits of POS data

With all this data at the ready, you can expand these benefits beyond short-term changes to your operations. Now that you’re building and managing a fleshed-out customer database, you can use this contact info for targeted direct mail, email, and SMS to offer exclusive deals and discounts.

More social savvy owners can expand their data capture to include social media handles, extending their reach into near-real-time communications. Not only does this afford additional marketing promotion opportunities, but more importantly, it allows for dialogue between owners and their customers, allowing for vital feedback and business-boosting testimonial.

In the end, people don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people. And restaurants are no exception.

Seemingly faceless streams of data might seem like a calculating way to operate in the food service industry, but in reality, these streams offer unparalleled visibility and transparency into the things that affect your customers most.

Written by   |  
Brad Bortone is a writer, editor and content marketer, published in areas ranging from content strategy to music reviews, and seemingly everywhere in between. Brad's love of the food industry began during his tenure with Johnson & Wales University's web team, writing countless pieces about - and enjoying countless lunches from - the school's esteemed culinary program.