When people decide to enter the hospitality business, it is likely because they believe that a great meal is something quite special and they are prepared to go to great lengths to offer their patrons a one-of-a-kind experience. They probably did not enter think they would need to learn about digital marketing and artificial intelligence.
However, it is increasingly clear in today’s marketplace that success requires a deep understanding of data and how it can drive actionable insights for the business (and the bottom line) – whether it’s a corporate pub or a coffee shop.
Increasingly sophisticated business intelligence (BI) tools – if properly applied – can help you gain deep insights into how your restaurant operates and help your business run more efficiently and profitably.
Depending on their functionality, your POS terminals can be connected to third-party AI solutions. By examining employee input your restaurant can begin to understand how staff behaviour is affecting the bottom line. Employee fraud is a significant problem in many restaurants and costs the hospitality industry a great deal of money every year. These actions can be detected by analysing entries in the terminal, including refunds and sales cancellations, etc., which allow owners to build up a picture of any fraudulent behaviour.
How do your customers move through your restaurants? Are people leaving in frustration because the lines are too long? If you take the time to watch your video feed, you might see where trouble spots are. By improving these aspects, you can increase traffic and even improve your service. Nowadays, you can even purchase an AI solution to figure this out for you.
Perhaps you have noticed that your inventory has developed some quirks – too much of one thing, or not enough of another? Or maybe you have a huge rush on coffee and muffins in the morning, but everyone wants sandwiches or cookies in the afternoon? These are things you can analyse through the lens of BI to gain actionable insights into customer purchasing behaviour. Make sure you are able to meet customer needs or try developing attractive promotions at the right time that will drive business.
Make sure your business has a webpage and a sufficient social media presence. And be prepared to invest some time into its development. Make sure that you have great Instagram photos, tweets and Facebook pages with readable menus, good reviews and attractive photos. Also, ensure that you list your restaurant on a venue hire marketplace. These will all help drive your business and help you understand how people might be finding your business – what search terms do they use on Google? Does your business have all of its information listed on Google or Facebook? These will also help you understand your competition better. People use these digital tools every day to navigate the world, and you have a good amount of options to make the most of your effort.
Business intelligence can be the product of AI algorithms, enriched data and/or amazing third-party solutions. There are many vendors out there who offer scalable and affordable solutions that will fit your business, no matter the size. If a third-party system is not in your budget right now, you can even gather a certain amount of this type of intelligence on your own. The overall goal is to build a data strategy and learn how to generate insights in an easy and understandable way.
Your in-house transactions are data-rich and offer great opportunities for insight. These can be divided into owned data and externally sourced data.
Business Intelligence in the restaurant industry can offer different levels of insight to differently sized restaurants – with a commensurate price difference, of course.
If you are a bigger restaurant with several locations strong BI has the potential to:
If you are still a smaller business – a cafe or a single-location restaurant, you can still see enormous benefits with attention to Business Intelligence strategies and insights.
Discovering what you do well, and how you can do it better may seem like an obvious insight, but this is the idea that should drive your business intelligence strategy. Whether you are a multi-location chain or a single small cafe there are many ways to maximise your business knowledge – and there is always room to grow.