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MURTEC Restaurant Roundtable: Drive Efficiency with Dashboards

Two types of dashboard are essential to all operators: sales and labor. Sales building is the lifeblood of all successful hospitality companies. Sales dashboards can show net sales, promotion/ discount sales, average check, add on sales, sales mix, LTO sales, contest sales, current trends versus last year’s, a six week average, last period, and hourly trends. Labor is a close second.
At the recent MURTEC (Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference) several industry insiders including IT executives from Red Robin, Uncle Julio’s, Logan’s Roadhouse, Frisch’s and Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill, discussed this very subject at a topic table focused on driving operational consistency with dashboards. Some of the attendees were former operators and agreed that labor must be scheduled to maximize sales opportunities and cut during slower trends. Labor dashboards consisted of hourly labor, labor schedules, shift labor, overtime, shift planning, guests per labor hour, and rate per hour.
The other common theme was that filtering of data is essential, so that no level had too much data or the wrong data to focus on. For example a store may see company sales and labor, but only its own loss prevention. Area directors mainly see their own district information while VPs want to see overall sales, labor and exception alerts. For each level, the data can be a variety from one consistent source, but the overall consensus from the group of operators at MURTEC was that each group should be limited to ten dashboards so the information is not overkill.
At Tumbleweed each dashboard and the reports within it are filtered. Each store only sees its own employees and alerts. The district contests, overall sales for the company, and alerts only go to the people managing the exceptions. A delete would go to the store, the area director and loss preventions while OT would only go the store and the area director.
Analyzing dashboard data
Loss prevention in dashboards and exceptions was another operational issue. Reports and exceptions within dashboards can uncover employees with a poor record. They may have low sales, low add-ons, poor shoppers, and high deletes. Do these employees need more training or are they thieves? The exceptions often tell us. We can create report cards with dashboards about our servers, managers, stores, districts and overall company. Managers may have a trend of deleting sales after close. Exceptions can help to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Within dashboards the top reports at Tumbleweed are fraud detection, sales per guest and guests per labor hour, comps, deletes, marketing analysis, inventory trends, plate cost, menu engineering, and sales trends. We use reports and exceptions to shine a light on fraud, track contests, identify sales opportunities, measure e-learning, report guest feedback and show us training opportunities. Dashboard reports help to see how servers, stores, and districts rank among peers.
Intraday results are another hot button topic. It is important that data is real time, so they can be proactive with staffing, trends, and labor. Key intraday information for sales trends help in projecting labor proactively and with controlling ticket times. Intraday data was only used by half of the operators participating in the discussion and most of those use it once an hour.
The key concerns for operators looking to drive operational consistency with dashboards is customization for each group in operations and the support center for sales, labor, loss prevention, and inventory. New ideas included beverage percent, e-learning, shoppers, tracking of general manager of the year and guest feedback combined with sales to create an overall “report card.” Some operators call this “score carding.” Finally, it is crucial each level of the organization gets the right dashboards with the right reports and exceptions. Overall, dashboards give companies the ability to conduct business more consistently based on facts rather than hunches.

Steve Brooks is the director of information services and a business analyst for Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar. He is also a member of Hospitality Technology's Editorial Advisory Board.  

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