This concept shaved 2 percent off its top line by adopting dynamic forecasting.

Carrot Express, a small, elevated fast-casual brand well-known in the Miami area for decades, embarked on a plan for rapid expansion a few years ago.

“We’ll have 24 locations open by the end of 2022, and the goal is to keep on growing at a rate of 10 to 15 new locations per year for the foreseeable future,” says Michael Schatten, director of operations at Carrot Express. To support this phase of strong growth, the brand needs to keep finances in place and manage costs effectively.

Schatten, who came to Carrot Express after years of high-level operational experience at The Cheesecake Factory and Anthony’s Coal-Fired Pizza, understood how essential it would be to keep food and labor costs down—and how important it would be to accurately forecast sales and labor.

“If you don’t have a great system to forecast your sales, you can’t really control your labor costs,” Schatten says. “So, when you look at our plan to reduce costs, the first step is creating a sales forecast, and then—obviously—scheduling according to the forecast to hit our labor goals.”

When Schatten arrived at Carrot Express, the brand used an online scheduling tool that didn’t have forecasting capabilities. He began to look for easy-to-use software that could help Carrot Express forecast sales and labor with an extremely high level of accuracy—and found it in a tool called

Schatten tested it for two months at one location before expanding to others. He was so impressed that every existing location now uses, and each new location is set up with the tool before opening.

“The accuracy of’s forecasting is the best I’ve seen, and the simplicity of what they offer is remarkable,” Schatten says. “Partnering with has been nothing short of a huge success for us. When we started really going after a sales forecast and labor goals with, we looked at the data and realized pretty quickly, ‘Wow, at the current run rate, we’re going to save about 2 percent off the top line.’ We’re running $45–$50 million in total profit, and we’re looking to save $1.5–$1.6 million on an annual basis by using” uses a machine learning algorithm to analyze external factors in a restaurant’s local area that could affect foot traffic, from weather reports to concert lineups to school closings and more. It also looks at internal factors like availability and peak times for labor shortages. The tool makes these assessments on a minute-by-minute dynamic basis as well as several weeks out. If things change quickly—for example, if a nearby concert is selling out—managers can choose to bring in dedicated on-call labor.

The tool can even help control food costs. Kitchen staff can do exactly as much prep as the forecast demands, cutting down on waste as well as inconvenient shortages. also gives the ability to set target labor percentages daily and weekly, and managers can duplicate schedules from week to week. The ease of use is equally critical as what a product can do, according to CEO of Sam Gerace.

“From the very beginning, we knew we had to make our product actually usable for restaurant managers, who have an incredibly overloaded job,” Gerace says. “One of the things our operating partners have seen from adopting is that whether we’re talking about the C-suite, the operating leader in a restaurant group, or the day-to-day GM, they say they’re spending less time planning, not more.”

Schatten and Gerace both believe in the power of dynamic forecasting. “The restaurant industry has historically operated on very narrow margins, and we’re offering the opportunity for operators to optimize labor, minimize food waste, and meet their customers’ expectations for hospitality—while helping them increase that narrow profit margin,” Gerace says. “If the industry averages profit margins of 4–5 percent, can add two or three points.”

To learn more about how sales and labor forecasting can increase margins, visit

By Kara Phelps

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