Technology in the restaurant industry is nothing new, but the need for insight-rich and data-driven applications are. Those who refuse to innovate and who see data as supplemental, rather than fundamental to restaurant operations, will find themselves with an ever-shortening shelf life.
Restaurants face all kinds of profit-eating issues that could be resolved with the use of integrative restaurant management technology. These issues include inefficient ordering and the resulting waste as well as the managing of multiple third-party delivery menus. Below are three ways restaurant operations can benefit from data integration.
Many restaurants already use large systems with a high level of data flow (for example, in-house POS systems, online ordering systems, and so on.) The issue operators then face is one of integration. Multiple systems that don’t pool and cross-reference data automatically become an operations nightmare, as analytics must be gathered and analyzed from each data channel. As a result, gaining comprehensive real-time analytics is a pipe dream. Data reviewed after the fact means it comes after the sale and after any opportunity to course correct or optimize the customer and staff experience. Real-time data flow and alerts mean that operators can react the moment an issue arises—such as a malfunctioning freezer or a staff member who is still on the clock and moving into overtime. Data used correctly no longer merely tells operators a mistake made in the past: it empowers them to immediately right the ship.
Restaurant operators can use an integrated restaurant management system to pull data for effective forecasting. When forecasting, it’s important to track things like comps from gross sales, net sales and traffic versus seated traffic, to give operators the context they need to staff the most effectively. With integrative technology working in the restaurant, an owner can forecast ordering down to a specific time and day by looking at comparative data pulled from years before. Forecast data, in addition to other important pieces of operational information, gives restaurant operators a true “big picture” view of their restaurant, and allows them to think quick to make sure operations run as smoothly as possible.
Know Your Guest
Positive restaurant experiences are not complicated, but neither are they one dimensional. A positive guest experience—and a positive operational experience—depends on aligning a restaurant’s offering and atmosphere with its target customer. Data can clarify a demographic and take the guesswork out of understanding a restaurant’s audience. Debit card and credit cards used on POS systems can be logged over time, revealing purchasing habits. In addition, social media check-ins showcase the frequency of particular guest visits, as well as what kinds of alternative locations customers seek out and when. Knowing your core customer drives business, and the most accurate customer personas come from data integration.
Overall, data integration can do far more for operators than what’s been outlined here. The major takeaway is this: in a world where guests increasingly expect their needs to be anticipated and met in real time, and restaurant employees daily adapt to more streamlined operational technologies, the time for leveraging data isn’t coming—it’s already here.