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Focus on the Right Restaurant Data to Yield Actionable Results

Restaurant data
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants have access to an ever-increasing trove of data that can help them optimize decision-making, but they can maximize their insights by focusing on the data that matters. 

The accelerated adoption of digital ordering technologies during the past year has added to the abundance of information available to operators. Increased digitalization of loyalty programs and investments in app- and web-based ordering provide operators with opportunities to conduct deeper analyses of metrics around sales trends and consumer behavior, among other variables.

“A crucial part of maintaining the overall health of the business is having the massive amounts of data work for you - act as your eyes and ears,” said Ami Kabay, account executive at PAR Data Central. “We all know Food, Labor, and Sales KPI's are the most common keys to the business, but underneath these topics are many specific data points that will differ in priority per restaurant type and even user role. If the data is not served up in a consumable way, the overwhelming amount of information usually just gets lost or ignored.”

But to leverage all this data, operators first need to decide what information to use and how to use it. 

“There are a lot of sources of data within restaurants,” said Jeff Porter, co-founder of Restaurant Analytics Delivered (RAD), which offers data analytics solutions for the industry. “One crucial component is cross-platform analytics and correlation.”

While there is not a “silver bullet” list of information that operators can leverage to ensure success, Porter said he has seen some trends emerge in the past year, as well as additional focus on some pre-existing trends.

Porter identified several key data analytics opportunities that provide vital benefits to operators:

Deeper channel analysis —Breaking out and trending the various channels available via the POS, online ordering systems, and third-party delivery to provide insight into growth opportunities and customer preferences.

Customer sentiment analytics — By correlating customer sentiment to sales and labor metrics, operators can measure negative customer incidents per X dollar sales and Y hours variance to ideal labor, for example.

Customer behavior analytics — Operators can analyze the impact of menu changes, price changes, and new locations on customer retention and behavior.

Unified score-carding — Creating ranked scorecards with metrics from all relevant systems to identify high performers and areas of opportunity and trending this information over time.

Forecast accuracy — Operators need to quickly and accurately identify variances and tweak forecast methodologies in such areas as sales, labor, and food usage.

Operators should keep in mind that data needs to offer practical insights, said Ryan Burhorn, founder of RAD.

“At RAD, our saying is, ‘Good data before big data,’ and it addresses this point,” he said. “As a custom analytics provider, we always look to help our client-partners choose the truly actionable metrics and to evolve those metrics as their business evolves.” 

Hyper-detailed data reports can serve a purpose, “but only when they help to tell the story of your business and guide you in opportunities to grow,” Burhorn explained. “A reporting and analytics platform that advertises quantity over customization and quality is likely to cause analysis paralysis or bury related useful pieces of information across a handful of reports.” 

Kabay agreed, noting that having access to an endless supply of data is great, but if it doesn’t lead to better operational decisions, then it isn’t doing its job. 

“Knowing which data points, or Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), are the most crucial pieces of information a restaurant needs for solid business decisions can certainly help, but it is only half of the equation,” Kabay explained. “How you receive data is what answers the underlying issue restaurants are looking to solve: too much data, not enough time. Having the ability to “alert” the right person at the time and place a business decision needs to be made, allows restaurants to focus attention where it needs to be in that moment. It is best to remove the reactive decision-making process and let the data point out when it is time to take action or correct the course of the day.” 

PAR has more than 200 integration partners, giving restaurants control over every aspect of their operation and continually create the best guest experiences possible. For more information, visit 

This post is sponsored by PAR™

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