Team reviews data analytics for organization

When you think of ways to improve your restaurant’s performance, tech and data don’t usually come to mind first, but it should. Your business is awash in data and getting it to work for you will help you set realistic goals, efficiently target your client base, improve internal processes and identify business opportunities. Here’s what data analytics for your restaurant can do.

What is data analytics?

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants defines Data Analytics as the science and art of discovering and analyzing patterns, identifying anomalies, and extracting other useful information in data. All this to say data analytics helps you identify a question or problem and use your financial and non-financial data to find an answer or solution.

How do we use it?

Descriptive analytics looks at historical data and restaurant transactions to answer questions about the past. What are your most popular menu items? When do you have the most traffic and need more staff? How quickly are you running out of napkins?

Diagnostic analytics takes your data a step further and investigates causes. Why is that menu item more popular? Why are you going through napkins so quickly? What could be causing an uptick in customer traffic one day but not another?

Predictive analytics pulls it all together and allows modeling, machine learning and risk assessments to make predictions about the future.

Implementing a plan

Clean data and clear questions is your first step. You need a clear understanding of the problem you’re seeking solutions for. From there you’ll identify key performance indicators or other metrics you’ll use to gauge the process and answer your questions.

Your second step is data capture. Is your data organized and cleaned? Out-of-date information and emails won’t help you.

Your next step is to make sure your data is in uniform formats and current. This will make accessing your data much easier no matter what method is used to access that file.  You’ll most likely download your data in CVS files (Comma-Separates Values files). These universal file formats allow for easy integration with a wide array of software products.  If your POS system has a series of APIs (application programming interface), even better as the two systems can more openly talk to each other and obtain the data necessary. This all means you can store your data in one app and use it in another without wasting substantial time reorganizing the data. Once you have clean and organized data downloads, you’re ready to set up a pilot program. This is basically your soft open. Are you getting the results you expect? Do you need to change direction, refine your question, or edit your scope? Make whatever adjustments you need during this period.

Once you’ve tweaked it, you’re ready to roll it out and let it do its magic. Check in with your users to see how it’s going. You may need to continue to fine tune the data points to get the result you need. With automated reporting you can use your data to review employee performance and efficiency, monitor staffing needs, track inventory and reduce food waste, monitor discounts and comps, monitor for emerging trends, improve on home delivery or take-out orders, improve marketing, look for needed menu modifications and more!

Future of analytics and tech in restaurants

What used to be a far-fetched idea of using Robots is no longer far-fetched.  This is the introduction of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) into the process.  RPA isn’t robotic wait staff (not yet anyway) but business process automation technology based on software robots or on artificial intelligence whereby the robots perform routine tasks for which they are designed. RPA can be designed for a wide variety of functions and eliminate human error or capacity constraints. It provides better documents for audits, cost savings, reliability and can scale to whatever you need it for.

How can Baker Tilly help?

Baker Tilly’s Data Analytics service can help you organize your data to make it more accessible so you can see your restaurant’s distinguishable patterns. Baker Tilly can provide assistance in setting up your data program and create a customized dashboard that organizes and presents your data in easy to understand visuals.

Want to learn more about data analytics for your restaurant? The team at Baker Tilly is here to help.

Kevin Bach
Data, cybersecurity on laptop
Next up

Small business cybersecurity risk: Cyberattacks don’t care how big your business is