Increase Restaurant Performance with Data-driven Goals

 In Restaurant Tips

Managers and owners get good at guesswork about restaurant performance. Over time, they learn how to read a room, sense a problem, develop instincts about the kind of people to hire, the kind of menus to try or avoid, and even, sometimes, when something isn’t sitting right with the budget. So how can data add value?

Increase Restaurant Performance with Data-driven Goals

The fact is, of course, that you’re human. You can’t have a face-to-face with each customer and every staff person each day to see how they’re doing. Nor can you do a detailed audit every time you look at the books. You’re not able to be everywhere at once, your perspective is limited, and your opinion is one of several that matter. The fact is, a lot slips by you on any given day.

What you don’t know… Will it really hurt you?

We’re here to talk about data, and how it contributes to restaurant performance. But let’s address some fears first. At first, “You need more data” may sound like needless over-complication of a centuries’-old human enterprise: the serving and eating of good food.

Another concern may be that welcoming data into the picture will turn managers and owners, who should be concentrating on more creative and relational enterprises, into obsessive or worn-out datahawks, pressing them into an inappropriate or unnatural role. After all, you did not get into this business to spend all your time with your nose glued to a screen.

You also (hopefully) didn’t get here being a micromanager so busy reading the metrics of success you lose the love of serendipity, stress out your people, and neglect the soul of your restaurant.

So how does more data help?

Everything you’re not able to catch isn’t a cause for fear. It is an invitation to learn more. Every snippet of data contributes to the big picture, which in turn contributes to your restaurant’s trajectory and the expansiveness of your vision. You cannot meet goals without a trajectory that includes actionable insights and measurables, which only come from data. More hard data—more numbers, more stars, more comments—combined with a strategy for using it, will make this easier.

Good guesswork is vital. Great gut instincts are non-negotiables. But alone, they’re not enough. You need objectivity to measure against, and captured information to show you what you alone can’t see. Data undergirds your ability to reflect accurately on the successes, failures, and kinds of impact your business is having on customers. Data gives your gut a more reliable platform from which to lead.

With data-driven goals, restaurant performance can gain new heights.

Let’s dig a little more into how it works.

Answering burning questions

With data, it’s not just the “how much,” but also the “how.” One of the biggest problems with data collection is how mind-boggling it can quickly get. You need to choose methods and platforms for collecting and interpreting data that help you answer specific questions you have regarding your business. You build the bigger picture beginning one answered question at a time.

What are your current most pressing questions about your restaurant? Is it how to reach out to more customers? Why sales during particular shifts or days are lagging behind others? How customers are responding to your rebrand? Or perhaps you’re looking for the best places to cut costs without damaging customer satisfaction. Your goals for how to use data will be focused and your efforts more successful when you identify your information gaps.

Let’s move through two main restaurant performance problems data helps solve.

Increasing guest counts

In order to have a restaurant, you need to get people in the door. Marketing gurus talk a lot about identifying your audience, which is true. But there’s also a sense in which, as a restaurant, your target audience is whoever walks in your door. In fact, you may, for example, initially target young families with breakfast specials, but then actually receive a lot of retirees.

Data can help you adjust your goals to maximize guest count. As you collect information about where you’re selling and drawing customers, data can help you reach them more effectively, and inform you how to handle areas where you’re not as strong. It also allows you to test campaigns, promotions, menus, and other marketing efforts to determine whether and how they’re giving you the results you need. Comments, dollar signs, and total numbers of guests per day tell you where customers are really pleased, and where there may be gaps in service.

Boosting sales

There are many ways to use data to improve sales. If you’re not sure why a particular menu item isn’t doing well, you can use sales data to understand how and why top-selling items sell well (Times of day? Age group of diners? Price vs. quality?), and apply those insights to poorly-selling items. Guest reviews and comments can really make this one easy, as you compare what guests order with the reviews they leave.

You can also learn which foods and drinks typically get purchased together, and track how much people are willing and able to pay for certain items, across certain times of day, and even seasons of the year. If a price point or menu item is a failure among customers, they will tell you either verbally, online, or through their wallets. If you need to raise prices, you can use data to test the tipping point at which customers are no longer comfortable paying what you ask.

Your two main gold mines of information are sales data and customer reviews. Make sure you’re collecting and analyzing both from a platform that makes sense to you and helps you answer your pressing questions.

Original Review’s real-time data collection not only uploads customer reviews to a reader-friendly platform, but creates charts and graphs, sends alerts when you want them, and populates your own secure, online review page. Learn more and sign up for a free demo today.

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