How Small but Mighty Restaurants Can Optimize Data to Muscle Up Growth

In a restaurant world filled with heavy hitters armed with deep pockets and marketing power, it can seem difficult for smaller concepts to compete. But independently owned, more agile operations can out-maneuver big brands by leaning on their point of sale (POS) platforms to increase sales and expand their client bases. 

Understand customer cravings and business needs through data

Your chef might have his or her own secret sauce, but data is the key ingredient behind business growth. Consider tapping into the treasure trove of customer information your POS platform contains. For instance, use spend and non-spend data to gain deeper insight into what guests value so you can focus efforts on driving repeat visits with customized loyalty offerings. 

Another way to slice and dice data is to comb through food costs. Let’s say the price of beef goes up. Reviewing your data from past menu adjustments may reveal an increase in the price of a chicken sandwich would create less of an impact on sales than bumping up the price of a hamburger. So, you could offset increased beef costs by having customers who order a chicken dish foot the bill.

Remember: access to data can glean insights to help you make better-informed decisions. However, for data to make a real difference in your restaurant, don’t focus solely on numbers – go beyond the math to understand trends. You’ll get far more applicable insights by trying to decipher what drives numbers up or down.

Gather information to help you innovate processes

Your data mining might unearth insightful information about how customers interact with your restaurant. You might discover your biggest sales come from online orders through your website, so perhaps it’s time to create an app to make ordering and cashing in on rewards even easier for customers. 

You can also leverage POS-gathered restaurant analytics to simplify forecasting, making things like off-premises orders operate more smoothly. Keeping track of in-restaurant orders and front-of-house demands is one thing, but folding off-premises orders into the mix can add complexity and make it more difficult to anticipate whether differing demands are being met. The right POS allows you to view detailed sales reports by ordering channel – comparing dates, weather or peak sales by the hour or even by menu item to make more precise projections.

Glean data insights to help manage and build your team 

With one in five employees saying they’ll change jobs in the next year, attracting and retaining top talent is important to maintaining a positive guest experience and efficient operations. 

Employee Ranking reports from your POS can help you understand who your best front-of-house cashiers and servers are so you can make sure they’re compensated and retained, while underperforming employees are identified as training opportunities.

You can also compare scheduled versus actual labor reports for a specific date range and weigh sales dollars against labor dollars. Understanding the variance of your labor-scheduling task will help you make better scheduling decisions going forward. If actual labor differs from what’s scheduled, costs become unpredictable, service can go downhill and confidence in the upcoming work week declines

Use data to rethink – not overthink

It’s been said that data – not money – makes the world go round. At the same time, data overload can give anyone analysis paralysis.

Don’t overthink it. Start small by focusing on key data points to help you move forward. You aren’t David trying to overcome Goliath – the big chains with the deep pockets. There’s no need to slay the proverbial giant.

Rather, use your POS to uncover insights to make small changes that can create a big difference – in your sales, your staff and your customer experience and retention.