The restaurant industry is a notoriously competitive one - and for a good reason. Restaurants are often a pain to run, difficult to keep staffed, and operate on long, hard hours, meaning they’re really not for everyone. But when run properly, any restaurant can become a beacon of success in your community and show what does and doesn’t work. So what’s the best way to track and manage your restaurant?
Restaurant data analytics and restaurant analytics software make keeping your business on its feet more effortless than ever - thanks, computers! If you’re new to the field (or just need a refresher), you’re in the right place. Today, we’re talking about the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that all restauranteurs and chefs should keep in mind on a daily basis.
Now let’s get going!
Key Restaurant Analytics for Restauranteurs
Let’s start with the simple stuff, yeah? Every business has customers and employees - that’s just how our economy works. So, logically, the most important thing restaurant owners and chefs can track are metrics on how satisfied customers are and how well employees perform.
Key Customer Analytics for Restaurants
One of the most important things you’ll need to track in a restaurant is how happy your customers are. This goes by several names, but it boils down to satisfaction. You can measure these metrics in so many places that it can be overwhelming - Google, Yelp, social media, the choices are pretty much endless.
So what does this mean for owners? With the proper tools, you can track and measure many factors that ultimately will inform how happy customers remain over time, such as:
- Average bill size
- Meal frequency
- Meal duration
Each of these can show you what needs improvement. The average bill size can tell you what the usual budget for your average customer is, allowing you to adjust pricing to be more in line with your clientele. It can also show you what does and doesn’t sell and help adjust the menu accordingly.
Meal frequency and duration also act as helpful metrics to see how your wait staff interacts with customers, how well they upsell, and more. Once you’ve gotten these customer analytics for restaurants up and running, monitoring your business’s health becomes so much easier.
And then, we have the service-focused metrics to track for customers:
- Birthdays & important milestones
- Meal/cocktail preferences
While these may seem odd at first, if you have regulars, you’re likely already mentally tracking this. You know that Jim hates shellfish (but isn’t allergic), Alyssa loves gin and despises vodka, and Alice and Meghan just celebrated their 3-year anniversary. So why not just… enter that into a spreadsheet so the other waiters, bartenders, cooks, and hosts can know it, too?
These things help personalize your customers’ experiences and make them more likely to return time and again.
Employee Performance Metrics
Now, this is where things get juicy. We all want our staff to be constant, 24/7 rockstars, and some out there are! But when dealing with constant turnover and all of your business’s other needs, it can be easy to let your staff’s needs and performance fall to the wayside.
By tracking a few straightforward KPIs, you can tell who is overperforming, reward them, and work with underperformers to get them where they need to be. There are two primary ways to track these restaurant data analytics:
- Give customers a survey at the end of their meal with some form of incentive to fill it out. You can offer coupons, a free drink(s), appetizers, or whatever else you can conjure up. This allows customers to provide direct feedback before leaving.
- Customers are more likely to provide helpful feedback when the memory is fresh in their minds. Rather than being told that “the guy with glasses” was rude, helpful, or whatever they felt, you can get specific feedback. Instead of “glasses guy,” you now know it was James. This prevents the “he said/she said” of Yelp and Google reviews when speaking to employees.
Staff Sales Data:
- Be sure to track who sells what, how often, and the average bill size for your servers. This allows you to identify over and underperformers, reward those who deserve it, and train those who need it.
- Track tips, as well. Tips are the best way to see how appreciated each staff member is. Figuring out who makes more in tips and who makes less can help you train those who need it, but more importantly, put your best performers on the busiest nights.
Menus are the lifeblood of a restaurant. Without a menu, there’s no business, as simple as that. As such, keeping a keen eye on your menu is of the utmost importance.
Many restauranteurs struggle to figure out precisely what does and doesn’t work on a menu. And when you bring in multiple locations, things can get more complicated when determining which shop sells what, and how often.
The solution is simple - use restaurant analytics software (like Cuboh) to track your menu’s performance. You can see individually how well each item sells and even break the data down into super-detailed bits, like when certain things sell.
Knowing these seemingly small details will ensure that your menu remains as cost-effective as possible, cutting out consistent loss on inventory and allowing you to run specials that sell consistently. Who knows, you may find that something you thought was a one-off is actually a great happy hour seller or that one specific drink on the menu is simply taking up space.
Additionally, one of the most significant benefits of tracking your menu’s performance is the impact on inventory. You’ll find quite quickly that you’re spending less on expired stock, ordering more effectively, and that you can plan events and specials much more accurately with a few lines of seemingly unimportant data.
Correlating Menu Data
This is a small but vital point to keep in mind. When examining your menu’s metrics, you need to look at it in both the larger (long-term) picture and the smaller (day-to-day) picture. Combining specific points (listed below) can help you better understand why certain things sell how they do, why people order certain items repeatedly, and more! Here’s what to track specifically:
Repeat orders (same customer)
- Highlight items ordered consistently, especially on your online ordering page and third-party delivery services.
- Watching how people review menu items help determine how to lay out your menu. Seeing how different menu items perform can help you tweak your menu’s design to set the spotlight on things that sell well or have a great ROI, and if needed, decide when certain items need the axe.
- Customers will often give their opinion on pricing. Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they just don’t understand inventory pricing - that’s okay. But if you see that people consistently complain about a dish being too expensive, you may need to tweak it. Change spendy ingredients, offer a smaller (cheaper) serving, or just straight-up remove it from the menu - your choice.
Delivery & Web Presence
Ghost and virtual kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. They have seen this success by taking advantage of a strong web presence and third-party delivery services - something any restaurant can do.
If you have an online ordering system already, it likely tracks many of the things we discussed in the previous section! If you don’t, though - catch up! We’re in the 21st century, meaning a business lives and dies by its web presence.
Whichever camp you’re in, there are a few things to track in restaurant analytics specifically targeted toward online ordering and delivery:
What do to-go customers tend to order the most?
- This helps you determine what travels well and, if needed, rework your menu to fit this delivery-first market we’re seeing develop.
Look at past trends.
- Are there days that consistently have higher than average to-go or delivery orders? Plan for it! Holidays, major sporting events, and popular drinking days often see significant bumps in delivery and to-go orders, and knowing that can help prepare. This keeps you on top of trends and more able to serve your customers in the best way - it’s a win-win.
How long are your delivery and wait times?
- While this isn’t in your control if you use third-party delivery, tracking average delivery times can help determine your average wait time. This prevents customers from being told “ready in 20 minutes” and then waiting an hour or more when the rush hits.
Wrapping Up on Restaurant Analytics
All in all, keeping track of key restaurant analytics can help you streamline your business and improve your business profits. Metrics like employee performance, sales data, menu metrics, and customer satisfaction can inform what aspects of your restaurant are performing as desired and what needs work.
Using restaurant analytics software can make this drastically easier - no need for spreadsheets or an IT team; just let the software do its job, and you can do yours.