With today’s technology and the insights that come along with it, businesses that take the time to collect and interpret market data hold a competitive edge over their competitors who don’t. We understand that the concept of big data and the ways of implementing it can seem overwhelming, so we’ve created a comprehensive guide to gathering, interpreting, and utilizing your restaurant data.
Once you understand the ways that data sourced from your restaurant management system can be used to decrease table turn times, increase check averages, and impress guests and staff alike, you’ll be better equipped to turn those plans into actions and track the results.
Where to Find Your Restaurant Data
Data and analytics for your restaurant operations can be found in the software and systems you use and through credit card insights. Depending on what type of system you are using, you may have to compile and organize the data on your own.
However, you can have all that work done for you automatically with a cloud-based POS system that integrates with a multitude of different technologies and collects data from every credit card swipe.
How to Read and Interpret Restaurant Data Analytics
Compiling the data available to you will mean nothing unless you know how to use it in a meaningful way. Before turning your restaurant analytics into an actionable plan, ask yourself a few questions first.
- How do you see your business growing in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20?
- What issues need to be addressed in order to improve the way your business operates?
- What are some things you’ve been wanting to implement but aren’t sure where to start? (Could be a marketing program, running certain specials, etc.)
- How can you improve your guest experience in order to retain more repeat visitors and referrals?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what to do with the data in front of you.
Putting Your Restaurant Data Into Action
Whether you’re making changes to your current restaurant or starting from scratch, write down what your plan is, how to implement it, and keep updating it as you gain new information from your restaurant data.
Make this information available to all employees and include it in regular trainings for new servers as well as refresher courses so that your entire staff is always on the same page.
Use Restaurant Data to Delight Guests
With every swipe of their credit card, you acquire data on your customers. Data analytics from software like Guest Book provides servers with guest information, like their favorite dishes, which of your locations they prefer, how often and when they visit, how much they typically spend, and more.
With all this information available right at your servers’ fingertips, they can custom tailor the dining experience to each guest, and happy guests will spend more, come back more often, and recommend your restaurant to friends and family.
There are a number of benefits to having an online reservations system in place at your restaurant, and that includes added customer data—much of it provided by the guests themselves.
Having an online reservation system that integrates with your POS will help bump up the customized service we just talked about above—by knowing that one of your VIP guests always orders a certain type of wine and that they will be coming in at 7pm tonight, you can have a glass ready and waiting for them before they even arrive.
Online reservations also allow guests to make special requests ahead of time and stores that information right in your POS, so both your kitchen and FOH staff are better prepared. During shift prep you’ll have an idea of how many birthdays, anniversaries, allergies, or special diets are coming through the door that night, giving you room to plan ahead.
Sometimes guests might need a little nudge to choose your restaurant over a nearby competitor, and that’s where a digitally integrated loyalty program can help.
The traditional punch card style loyalty programs have a few flaws: namely cards get lost or damaged and are costly to print. A loyalty program that integrates with your POS is not only easier for both your staff and customers to use, it can also custom-tailor rewards to each guest using the restaurant data analytics from their credit cards.
Want to learn more about how Upserve can help you source valuable data? Book a free demo now.
Use Restaurant Data to Build a Better Menu
Menu management & design
Your menu may be deceiving you and your guests alike. By using menu intelligence to compile and analyze customer data, you can make changes to your menu items and design as needed in order to sell more high-profit items and create more return guests.
- Find “hidden gems”—items that don’t sell well but create a high percentage of repeat customers—so you can make it stand out better on your menu and encourage staff to recommend it more.
- Understand your best-sellers. Your highest selling item might actually be hurting you in the long run—do people who order it tend to not return? It might be time for a recipe change or to just ‘86 it all together.
- See your most popular categories. Are you selling a lot of entrees but drinks, desserts, and apps are especially low? Create specials like “appy hour” deals and train servers on upselling items.
An automated inventory solution can help you save 30-50 hours per month. By connecting to the menu in your POS, items are automatically deducted from your inventory management system, even across multiple locations or from a central kitchen.
The data and analytics from your automated inventory can also help you spot excessive waste or theft, so you can get to the root of the problem sooner and faster than ever before.
Use Restaurant Data to Improve Server Success & Management
With restaurant data, you can see which servers are selling more and which are lagging behind. This allows you to create coaching and training opportunities built on server strengths and weaknesses. Does one server consistently sell 73% more bottles of wine than any other? Allow that person to lead a training with the rest of the staff to show them how it’s done.
On the flip side, is your newest hire struggling to upsell desserts or additional rounds of cocktails? Check your data to see who excels in these areas and pair them up for some 1-on-1 training time.
High turnover is a major issue in this industry. When you can see in plain black and white where a server is lacking and are able to help them improve their performance (and, in turn, their tip average) and encourage growth, there is a better chance they will stay on board.
Using those same insights you used to discover their weaknesses you can also see how they are utilizing the feedback given to them and watch their performance grow—giving you the perfect opportunities to identify, acknowledge, and reward their progress.
Use Restaurant Data to Create Smarter Marketing Campaigns
Identify which campaigns are working (and which aren’t)
Your POS can help you determine if certain specials, promotions, or events were worth the effort or a total flop based on your restaurant data. Maybe your Super Bowl promo didn’t pan out the way you wanted to last year, but does that mean you need to go in a whole new direction? Not necessarily.
A major weather event or other unforeseen circumstance could have impacted peoples’ decisions to venture out, so just because you had low sales that day doesn’t mean that your special or promo failed. By tracking everything that happens on a day-to-day basis you have a more holistic picture of what could have gone wrong and adjust your plan based on more information than just the number of covers.
The same goes for specials run more often than yearly—is your Wednesday night drink special failing to fill seats week after week? Update your promo offer and see if that improves your hump day check averages.
Online reviews are a necessary evil in the restaurant industry, and it’s important to constantly monitor them. However, with a multitude of review sites like Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and Facebook it can become overwhelming to have that information in so many places.
By using a reputation management tool as part of your restaurant data collection arsenal, so can see all of your reviews in one place. This will allow you to see trends in feedback, respond to customers, and adjust marketing efforts based on this information in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise.
It’s clear that utilizing restaurant data is a game-changer. The use of sales data combined with online statistics gives restaurant owners and managers more insight than ever before. If you’re not yet using menu intelligence to create better offerings, develop repeat customers, and perfect your menu in the process, now is the time to start.