Everyday your restaurant creates a huge amount of data – from the reservations your customers make to the leads opening your marketing emails to the supplies you purchase and use. If you’re not capturing, analyzing, and integrating your data, you’re leaving money on the table. As Masha Reutovski, VP of Marketing at Keboola, a premier data analytics platform, stated, “Restaurants operate on razor thin margins, and any inefficiency can be the difference between a successful and failing location. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”
There are a number of highly efficient data solutions revolutionizing the restaurant industry, including POS, CRM, menu analytics, employee management solutions, guest management platforms, inventory management softwares, market-wide databases, and more. By integrating data analyses among these different platforms, restaurateurs are gaining unprecedented access to the wisdom hidden in customer, operations, and marketing data.
Restauranteurs are using the wisdom gleaned from data analysis and integration to attract and retain more customers, increase their profit margins, future proof their businesses, and keep an eye on their competition.
Strengthening your Relationships with Customers
Maintaining a strong relationship with your customers is the foundation of your success. After all, you have 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer, but only a 5-20% chance of attracting a new one. In order to strengthen your existing customer relationships, you need to know who your customers are and what they want. As Elizabeth Hert, Marketing Manager of Enterprise Clients at Technomic, a leading market-level foodservice database, related, “When a restaurant understands consumer preferences, consumption patterns, and purchasing decision drivers, they can make informed decisions about steps to take to keep customers coming back.”
To better understand your costumers’ preferences, you need to invest in a Point of Sale system (POS) integrated with a Customer Relationship Management database (CRM).
A POS system tracks sales, inventory, and cashflow. Restaurant POS systems, like POSist, Oracle, Toast, and POSiq, connect the data about what is purchased to who purchased it by tracking credit cards, phone numbers, emails, and loyalty program logins. Basically, a POS system allows you to collect data on what, when, and how each of your customers make their purchases.
A CRM collects and organizes the data from your POS system, marketing campaigns, reservations management system, and other sources. By analysing the data in your CRM, you can understand the demographic makeup of your customer base, the specific behaviors and meal preferences of your different market segments, and even drill down to the personal preferences of each customer. Acting on your analysis, you can create automated targeted marketing campaigns, which infosys has proven, “generate repeat sales by 8-20% in QSRs [Quick Service Restaurants] and 6-12% in fine dine restaurants.”
While any CRM is better than no CRM, you want to choose a restaurant-specific CRM like Eat, TouchBistro, Seven Rooms, or Upserve to get the most value for your money. As Ryan McSweeney, Growth Marketing Coordinator at Upserve, related, “Restaurateurs are working full days, 7 days a week, and they don’t have the time to have to learn some complicated system that B2B software companies are using too. Having a CRM that is built for restaurateurs allows for a much easier learning curve. Not only does the customer information sync up to the rest of the platform, but it’s also giving restaurateurs the insights they’ll specifically want to know.”
Optimizing your Operations
Because restaurant margins are incredibly thin, it’s vital to invest wisely by optimizing operations. Since labor is one of your biggest costs, you need to know exactly how much staff you need at any given time, how to effectively retain your staff, and who your best performers are.
A POS solution integrated with an employee management solution like 7Shifts, Restaurant365, or Synergy Suite, can ensure you’re never over or under staffed. According to Charles Chuman, VP of Sales – Americas at CHD Expert, “tracking time-stamped POS data helps restaurants understand when clients are patronizing their establishment and how much they are purchasing, which helps restaurant managers make sure that enough staff members are available at peak times and that there is not an overabundance of staff on hand during lulls.”
Furthermore, your employee management solution can help you identify your star performers and retain them when you integrate it with both a POS system and a guest management software, like Cake, Dinetime, and Opentable. Guest management systems examines wait time, turnaround time, average party size, average guest counts, and seating efficiency. As Ryan McSweeney said, “Having data on server performance allows operators to see who the best members of their waitstaff are by looking at who has the highest average check size, who is the best at upselling, and who is turning tables the quickest. Data can also help reduce staff turnover. Sending high-performing servers with adequate experience to bigger tables, optimizing a floor layout, and rewarding and praising staff when you see their metrics rising can help keep a happy staff and minimize turnover.”
The data produced by an employee management system can also help you improve your staff’s work/life balance and identify struggling employees. Jordan Boesch, CEO of 7Shifts, a premier the employee management solution, related, “Data generated by a labor management solution empowers restaurateurs to easily optimize future schedules. This has the dual benefit of helping reduce overall labor costs, and provides staff with more predictable schedules, which ensure labor compliance and positive work/life balance. Additionally, with turnover in the hospitality industry at 73% annually, it’s critical for restaurateurs to monitor staff engagement through their labor management solution to identify those who may be at risk of leaving, and provide them with the support they need to be high-performing in their roles.”
Optimizing your Product
Food is at the core of what you do. The more you know about the quality and popularity of your food, the more you can focus on items that satisfy customers. By employing menu analytics solutions like Upserve, Unlock Insights, and Uncork’d, you can learn what items are most frequently purchased, how different dishes perform in different locations, what items drive return visits, your profit per item, dishes frequently bought together, and more. According to Elizabeth Hert, “Menu insights can help predict the next big flavor to incorporate on the menu and can also provide inspiration for limited-time offer ideation.”
Restaurants create 11.4 million tons of food waste, costing $25 billion annually. By investing in an inventory management system along with a menu analytics platform, you will reduce your food waste and stop throwing money in the trash. With your menu analytics platform, you will stop stocking ingredients that go bad before they’re used because they are part of dishes that don’t sell. Using your inventory management systems, such as POSist, Toast, Oracle, Upserve, Restaurant365, and TouchBistro, you’ll know exactly how much stock you have in each restaurant and you’ll never over buy perishables again.
The most powerful insights about your restaurant will come from integrating the data you pull from multiple sources – from your POS, CRM, menu analytics, employee management solution, guest management platform, and inventory management software. Integrating your data will allow your restaurant to run like a well oiled machine with every cog turning in harmony with the others.
To integrate data from across your restaurant, you will need to invest in a data analytics platform. There are a number of powerful data analytics platforms available, including Oracle, Zoho, Alteryx, Airtable, Keboola, and Acutely.
Keboola is an open and fully customizable system that provides data infrastructure as a service and has a strong track record of working with restaurants. Keboola covers all the back-end aspects, from integrations to transformation, process management, data catalog, data lineage, data science plug-in and apps, sandboxes and tools for ad-hoc analytics and research projects, and more. It can help you integrate data collected from all of your platforms, analyze it, and present it as easily understandable scorecards. Keboola calls this the Business Data Model, which, according to Masha Reutovski, “informs all stakeholders on how to understand the data in a central data catalog and unifies the language and definitions across the organization. This in turn increases the efficiency of data use, and creates agile environment for attacking new problems.”
If you’re looking for a little more handholding on how to use your data, Acutely is a consultancy and data platform that provides personalized solutions for restauranteurs. They will help you uncover the data you’re already producing that will make a difference for your business. Then, they’ll augment your data with their proprietary restaurant data sets and run customized analyses to provide actionable insights. “Recently a customer of ours asked for our help with a location that was struggling,” related Hudson Piehl, COO at Acutely. “With our deep learning model, we were able to deliver an analysis that showed where in the local market their best customers were and with that information, the customer was able to do a targeted digital marketing campaign to those customers. Six months later the unit performance is much improved.”
Once you understand your own data, you need to compare your strategy and performance to larger trends in order to see how you stack up to the competition. As Elizabeth Hert related, Data helps restaurant owners “answer crucial questions about the competition – who are their direct competitors, who is their core consumer, what regions are they expanding into” and more.
Solutions like SiteZeus, CHD Expert, Technomic, FSDBCO, Mintel, Chain Store Guide, FRANdata, and Restaurantrak provide data sets and analyses of market-wide trends, each with their own niche expertise. According to Charles Chuman, “Chain Store Guide has useful information on chain headquarters and FRANdata has excellent franchisee data. CHD Expert also provides that information to clients while offering significantly more in terms of the number of attributes associated with each chain and franchisee and even more information at the individual operator level.”
The Future of Restaurant Data
In the near future, you will have a simple choice: invest in an integrated data analysis system or close your shop. Both Masha Reutovski and Jordan Boesch agreed that using data to make everyday business decisions is already “table stakes.” As Ryan McSweeney stated, “in order to not become another failed restaurant statistic, restaurateurs will have to adopt data analytics.”
In the coming decades, you can expect artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the restaurant data space. Jordan Boesch predicts, “In the future, world-class restaurants will use the data in their organization to make automated decision-making on many core aspects of their business – from operations to labor – that will allow them to focus on the truly differentiating factors of hospitality, including culture and guest experience.”
Charles Chuman hypothesizes that AI will push even farther, modernizing guest experience. He believes in a future where “facial recognition software and AI sentiment analysis can alert restaurant managers to the sentiment of clients and pick up on non-verbal cues that customers do not feel comfortable communicating to waitstaff and a manager can step in to offer a different bottle of win or a free dessert to make up for an item that doesn’t meet customer expectations or a prolonged wait before receiving a second course.”
TLDR: it’s time to invest in collecting and integrating your data or risk being left behind.
Keboola is a data operations platform that enables teams to scale business insights and revenue through automated workflows and quick and secure experimentation.
Keboola unlocks your businesses’ existing data investments by acting as a “fabric” that layers over your legacy and modern systems. By connecting siloed data systems and people into a single, secure environment that is designed to produce fast and actionable decision-making, Keboola enables anyone in all departments to be data-driven innovators.
The powerful platform has helped some of the world’s largest companies rapidly transition from ad hoc spreadsheets to centralized access and state-of-the-art data governance, visibility, and control. By making data accessible in one place, Keboola helps any kind of team make better, coordinated decisions in a fraction of the time. Hundreds of innovative companies use Keboola to unlock their data-driven power. For more info, visit www.keboola.com
Interview with Ryan McSweeney, Growth Marketing Coordinator, Upserve; Interview with Charles Chuman, VP of Sales – Americas at CHD Expert; Interview with Masha Reutovski, VP of Marketing, Keboola; Interview with Elizabeth Hert, Marketing Manager, Enterprise Clients, Technomic; Interview with Jordan Boesch, CEO, 7Shifts; Interview with Ashish Tulsian, Co-Founder and CEO, POSist; Interview with Hudson Piehl, COO, Acutely;
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