Having worked as a waiter and bartender throughout my twenties and thirties, I’ve always been amazed by those who are so inspired and driven to get into the business of hospitality. My experience was one that was often marred by periods of high stress, and physically demanding work that would often proceed apace from the moment I walked through the doors until I counted my money at the end of the night. But, in all honesty, my job was a cakewalk compared to those who labored in the kitchen. The fact that someone would love food and the creation of culinary masterpieces enough to put up with the many difficulties of running such a thin-margined business never ceases to illicit a sense of wonder in me.
These days, however, being a great chef or a feted restaurant owner now also includes competencies in areas heretofore never even considered… In this day and age, technology is now integral to a well run and profitable enterprise. Indeed, a solid data infrastructure is as vital as a talented cook or a skilled bartender. Restaurants have now come to increasingly depend on a myriad of software tools in order to ensure peak performance, efficiency and to stay in the black. Business Intelligence is one of the keys to the realization of a thriving operation.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence (BI) is a general term that refers to the various procedures, technical infrastructure and software tools that can help a restaurant owner to access and then analyze data that can assist him or her in improving operations and making more impactful decisions to ensure a boost in performance and, ultimately, an enhancement of the bottom line. Ideally, BI enables decisions based on fact and actual data as opposed to feeling or instinct.
The various systems inherent in BI give restaurants an edge over the competition, (including improving upon one’s own prior performance), due to its empowerment that allows one to face issues and challenges quickly and to enact intelligent solutions before a customer’s experience is tainted, which can lead to the dreaded negative review on social media.
Examples of How BI Can Help
To this day, much of the auditing of a restaurant’s financials requires a person to laboriously indentify whatever issues may need attention. Such a process, especially if the bookkeeper or accountant is competent, will identify problems but the exercise falls short in fully enlightening an owner or manager since the information is not available in real time, whereby they can actually act upon it expeditiously. Of course, such manual efforts don’t result in the automatic aggregation of data across a multiple restaurant chain, which can be immensely helpful. This means those in leadership will have little awareness of trends and of systemic problems. With good BI, foodservice professionals have access to real-time overviews of internal investigations that help enormously in ensuring compliance of floor policies and procedures.
For instance, there are many aspects to maintenance in a restaurant that are easy to overlook and often lead to problems down the road. A good example would be filtration systems. In my case certainly, it often takes some algae to grow at the bottom of my home water pitcher before I know it’s time to change a water filter. In a restaurant, repercussions can be far more deleterious. An old filter that no longer properly purifies the water can lead to the degradation in the quality of one’s signature beverages. Once the taste of a whiskey/water is tainted, visitors to your bar can easily complain, seek out other establishments or, once again, post some bad reviews. Business intelligence solves this potential issue through its automation of data inspection and schedule automation for the regular replacement of such things as air and water filters, carbonation tanks, etc. This is can mitigate costly repairs due to neglect and mistreatment.
How to Fully Exploit the Benefits of BI
Restaurants can best benefit from BI in the ability to automatically monitor the compliance of expected standards of one’s staff and equipment, to keep ahead of maintenance and in the enforcement of policy. BI also assists in accumulative data collection across multiple chain locations, all in real time. BI is important for those who wish to investigate world-wide trends over various time periods that can affect brand viability and reputation. Finally, BI contributes potentially invaluable reports that can identify problem areas and assist in the formulation of solutions.
Be it helping to reduce service times, keeping up with necessary maintenance to improving food quality and menu choices, BI is something wisely to be adopted for any food service institution.
Quality BI software can greatly empower restaurant entrepreneurs in focusing upon necessary initiatives that can ultimately result in a more robust and secure business operation.