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5 Analytics Every Restaurant Owner or Chain Operator Should Be Tracking


As restaurants embrace the digital age headlong and make sweeping changes to their operations, the metrics that are important to owners, operators and managers are shifting as well. Case in point: a major international quick-serve brand that instituted several major changes in menu and ordering channels is now seeing a spike in employee turnover. Could earlier, or better, insight into the numbers have curtailed some of the talent loss?

A strong economy and job market along with other factors make it more important than ever to get a solid handle on the numbers that indicate the health of your restaurant(s), your team, and your customer relationships. This article from Xenial Inc. (formerly Heartland Commerce) details the five metrics restaurant operators should be monitoring to have an accurate picture of the business.

1. Staff turnover

With low unemployment, high turnover is an even bigger problem these days. Paying attention to retention trends across a restaurant system or within a market and comparing them to individual performance is a good way to measure whether you are taking the right steps to keep good team members loyal. Turnover is notoriously high in restaurant jobs, and it’s nothing to sneeze at: Tdn2k, which benchmarks HR statistics and metrics, estimates the cost of restaurant turnover last year ranged from $1,902 for a back-of-house employee to just over $14,000 for a manager.

2. Drive-thru times

Fast food orders that take too long to prepare, especially for drive-through guests, contradicts the definition of “fast.” McDonald’s, for instance, saw its average order increase last year to 239 seconds last year, up more than half a minute from the year before and slower than its competitors. Systemwide, that’s a recipe for many unhappy customers and potential lost business. In McDonald’s case, the inefficiency could be a symptom of a larger problem—asking workers to do too much—that is contributing to turnover from burnout.

3. Sales or revenue by channel

Is your presence on a restaurant ordering platform like GrubHub worth the cost? Does owning or renting a food truck and having a presence for your restaurants at events make sense from a sales standpoint? How many people order through your mobile app? By telephone? How much of your business is takeout? Knowing the sources of your revenue can help you allocate resources, (re)structure workflows or even refine the design of your restaurant to better accommodate a new ordering channel or uptick in foot traffic.

4. Delivery cost

Closely related to sales by channel is delivery cost. Delivery is certainly in demand, but it doesn’t always make financial sense for a restaurant. Handling it in-house means additional labor, insurance and vehicle costs; outsourcing the service means paying and trusting a third party to ensure the food arrives intact, on time. Knowing the costs either way is key to any informed decision about fees and logistics. And running the numbers on your options - such as limiting delivery to larger orders or a subset of your menu - can also help with profitability.

5. Social media engagement

Marketers and individual owners measure social media success in different ways, but not paying attention to your online audience is ignoring its marketing potential. According to a Harvard Business Review Research Report by Michael Luca, for restaurants, a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue. So it’s clear that a restaurant’s online presence and reputation does in fact have an effect on its success. Monitoring likes, shares and follows is important, but so is responding when someone has posted a gripe on social media. Knowing what the public is saying about your competitors can provide useful intelligence as well. Look for a tool that consolidates all of a company’s online reviews into a single dashboard, along with reviews of competing businesses. Even better if it also facilitates responses to reviews.

Restaurant operators have always relied on key numbers to determine whether they are succeeding, but as the industry evolves, so do the metrics that help steer operations and marketing in the right direction.

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