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.
How can BI help your restaurant?
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.
Build an audience.
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.
What kind of data do I need to see?
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.
- Data from your website – What sort of traffic uses your website? Does it increase during certain times? Do you have a page to advertise your event services?
- Social media insights – When are your posts being seen? Post during peak hours to maximize your impact. What sort of profiles do your users have, is there some special way to appeal to them?
- POS data (and any built-in reporting tools) – what sort of data aggregation or sorting can be carried out? Can you do any predictive analysis based on the insights you have gained in this way?
- Bookkeeping and scheduling information – Check for fraudulent activities and ways to maximise your inventory.
- Loyalty programmes and client registration information – First-party data (client data) is the foundation of truly profitable insights. Understand as much as you can about your customers so you can improve your value proposition.
- Data from food delivery partners – what sort of delivery radius do they deliver to? Which dishes are the most popular, and how are your reviews? Many of these types of partners allow you to offer promotions, which you can advertise via social media – trigger these at peak times for order increases.
- Venue marketplace data – Where do your enquiries come from? Are you receiving queries for event booking but don’t convert? Can you consult with the online marketplace and seek their help in refining your offer?
- Google trends – Google can tell you quite a bit about your online traffic and this can help you hone your social media presence and your offer. For example, if most of your customers have dogs, consider pitching personalised offers for these types of customers or provide refreshment for them if they bring them along.
- Industry reports and trends – Staying up to date with industry trends is crucial. Industry associations offer great blogs and newsletters or magazines that will offer great advice about new ways to please customers and stay in the red. Take the time to stay up to date with these.
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:
- Aggregate data in real-time and across different locations for reporting insights. These can be bundled via a third-party solution and presented in dashboards for managerial decision making.
- Ensure that quality is maintained, as well as compliance with company policies and fraud prevention. With these types of solutions, you will be able to ensure that employees are reporting accurate transactions and working in accordance with the best standards and regulations.
- Identify trends on a larger scale that can impact a business. Health trends or other new information that hits the internet can significantly affect your bottom line. Staying ahead of the curve will allow you to come up with new offers that will anticipate these vagaries of the marketplace.
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.
- Business profitability. Understanding your revenue drivers in a more insightful way will have an immediate impact on your bottom line. When you start to see what you are doing right, you can focus on building on this success and not wasting energy on those things that hold you back.
- Waste and loss. Find out the areas where waste and misplaced effort are reducing profits. Employee waste or needless expenses can be rectified only when they are understood.
- Find opportunities to grow. When you isolate the things you do well, you can build on them. This type of strategy is a true investment in your business.
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.
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