Running a restaurant is a big responsibility. You have to think about marketing, managing menus, customer service and staff schedules, all while juggling your budget to keep things afloat. Restaurant data is a big factor, but thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to collect, analyze, and use restaurant data efficiently.

What Data Should Be Collected in Your Restaurant?

The words big data are thrown around a lot these days, and it can be confusing what it refers to and what data you should be collecting for your restaurant. The most critical pieces are customer data, kitchen data, guest management, inventory, and social media data.

Customer Data

The first and most important thing to think about is sales and customers. At the very least you will want to collect names and email addresses. If you can also get their phone numbers and address, it is even better. To take things to the next level, store that with any food allergies and the person’s birthday. Having this information creates endless opportunities for targeted marketing to keep your best customers coming back again and again.

How you get this data from your customers is easy, you ask. Be sure to incentivize it with coupons if they fill out a customer response form before leaving. Some POS systems will allow you access to demographic data of customers. If there is missing data, you can fill in the blanks using public records.

Kitchen Data Collection

Kitchen data is all about time and inventory. How long it takes for a dish to be prepared from the time it was ordered until it is sitting on the table is crucially important to know. You will want to get granular on this one and gauge how much time the dish spends at each cook station.

Another critical time factor is how long it takes for the dish to go from completed to sitting in front of the guest. You will also want to pay close attention to any cook-time variances meaning how long something is supposed to take to cook versus how long it actually takes. This metric can identify bottlenecks in your kitchen flow and areas that need improvement or an extra set of hands.

You can use a stopwatch and manually gather this data, or there are automated kitchen display systems (KDS) you can use to monitor the flow of kitchen activity and log results.

Guest Management

Guest management can make or break your restaurant. Leave people waiting too long before they get a table and they could be out the door. Guest management systems help to monitor wait times and use historical data to show progress or decline in this area.

Another essential thing to calculate and keep track of is party size and seating efficiency. Historical data here is critical so if a specific number of people come in on a Tuesday around 1:00 p.m., you can plan for the extra seating.

Don’t forget to track no-shows and how your guests heard about you so that you can continue to exploit those marketing channels.

Inventory and Finances

Restaurant inventory management software can help with food inventory, prices, vendor management, reordering, and costs. Some packages even include reporting to help with specific menu item cost efficiency along with any inventory variances.

Software made just for restaurants can also help you keep track of staff schedules, payroll, expenses, and your budget. It is important to know at any minute where you stand financially so you can adjust things accordingly.

Social Media Metrics

Any restaurant worth its salt is on social media. If not, you are missing a big piece of the marketing pie. Social media regardless of the channel gives you plenty of metrics you can track including demographics of your fans, likes and dislikes of your content and even tracking reviews.

At the very least you should have a Facebook page for your restaurant and track visits, likes and follows. Instagram is an excellent vehicle for posting pictures of your fabulous food. Social media is where the conversation is taking place, so you need this to create a deep and lasting connection with your customers.

Technology innovations have made it easier to keep track of all the tiny pieces of data that you need to run your restaurant successfully. Some integrated restaurant POS systems offer all the tools to easily collect, analyze and use restaurant data quickly and efficiently.

Emily Andrews is the marketing communications specialist at RecordsFinder, an online public records search company. Communications specialist by day and community volunteer at night, she believes in compassion and defending the defenseless.
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