Using Data to Drive Business Growth at Your Restaurant

3 months ago   •   3 min read

By Daniel Smith

Using data to drive business growth can propel savvy decision-making at your restaurant. A robust and modern point-of-sale (POS) system with strong dashboard reporting capabilities can provide dozens of reports and data points to help you prioritize actions and identify pathways to enhanced profitability.

With information on key areas like sales, labor, product mix, and marketing campaigns, you can spot areas in need of attention and unlock new opportunities within your restaurant. A POS system integrated with email marketing, for example, enables you to identify notable trends at your restaurant, such as limited-time offers to capture attention or the most frequently redeemed discounts, which can then inform the roll-out of targeted emailed campaigns designed to boost traffic and sales.

Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence or hunches, utilizing robust dashboard reporting can provide real-world numbers to help you more intelligently evaluate your restaurant. You can use this data to better understand your guests, providing quantifiable metrics on when they come, how they order, and what they select. Data will also help you get a deeper grasp on your restaurant operations, including the success of menu items, staff performance, and labor usage, all critical components to improving profitability.

A comprehensive POS reporting dashboard should provide a wealth of information capable of stimulating growth, including the following:

  • Historical sales figures and sales trends across days, weeks, months, or seasons
  • Restaurant guest ordering and traffic patterns
  • Best-selling items on the menu
  • Labor utilization metrics
  • Redemption rates on special offers and loyalty program rewards
  • Staff performance and service times
  • Dine-in traffic versus off-premises orders, including online ordering and delivery
  • Average check amounts

All this data—and so much more that exists at your fingertips—can drive guest service, traffic, revenue, and profitability at your restaurant in a positive direction.

Activate data-driven growth.

So, how can you transform data into actionable insights that drive growth? With a clear understanding of your operations, waitstaff, and restaurant guests alongside some strategic and creative energy, you can make decisions designed to stimulate improved results. Consider these examples:

  • Reviewing the performance of individual menu items. Re-engineer your menu around best-selling items, unique dishes that differentiate your establishment, and the most profitable items.
  • Evaluating guest traffic. The slowest nights might warrant some marketing creativity, like a debut of your "Manicures and Martinis" night, whereas you might require reservations for Sunday brunch when seats are at a premium.
  • Creating campaigns around specific offers. With an understanding of what special deals have moved the sales needle in the past, you can create email marketing campaigns sharing those offers. This can accelerate business during the slower days or dayparts you have identified.
  • Offering incentives and added bonuses. If beverage orders lag during your dining room's regular "burger night," then you can incorporate a drink special or tie a happy-hour beverage with every burger purchase to capture added margin when you have a captive audience.
  • Shifting strategies to better accommodate busy times. If takeout and off-premise orders represent the overwhelming majority of weekday lunchtime sales, then perhaps there's an earnest conversation to be had about closing the dining room during lunch hours to better utilize your resources.
  • Recognizing opportunities for upselling. While examining staff performance, you might notice that some servers or waitstaff do a fantastic job consistently selling desserts or suggesting that guests upgrade from a soda to a milkshake. This could lead to staff-led training on upselling or contests built around improving add-on sales.
  • Investigating historical sales trends. You can determine your staffing needs to account for seasonality or special events and schedule your top performers during prime hours.
  • Valuing your loyal guests. In conjunction with a loyalty program, you can identify your most valuable restaurant guests and send them an invite to a special event. You might also segment your guests and deliver more personalized deals via email marketing, such as providing a free glass of your new house Merlot to anyone who has ordered glasses of Merlot during past visits.

Not only is it possible to capitalize on data to drive real-world results at your restaurant, but it's also quite attainable.

Moving your restaurant toward data-driven growth.

Restaurant leadership's ability to access data, analyze the numbers, and then make calculated moves has become increasingly critical given rising competition across the food service landscape—and those who are wisely using data to drive business growth position themselves for success.

After all, when you have key metrics around your best-selling menu items, top-performing servers, and traffic patterns, you can convert those data points into actionable insights in service, training, operations, marketing, staffing, and more to fuel heightened performance.

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