Data is becoming increasingly important in the restaurant industry, and modern point of sale (POS) systems collect an impressive amount of data that restaurateurs can use to their advantage.
How do you analyse your POS data and use it to improve your operations, satisfy your customers and increase your income? How do you make the data your POS is collecting work for you?
Here are three ways you can start using your data to optimise your restaurant.
Data needed: sales reports + cost and price of your dishes
Your menu is the heart of your business. Finding the right balance between surprising new dishes and familiar favourite staples is an art.
This is where data can come into play. Instead of relying on your instinct alone, you can read your sales reports to quickly identify which dishes are most popular with your customers.
Popularity isn’t the only key measure of a dish’s success, of course. How much it costs you to make is important as well, and this is where the costs and the prices of the different elements of your menu will serve you. Thanks to this data being stored in your POS, you can evaluate whether or not a popular dish is worth making. If the profit margin is too narrow, raising the price of a top-performing menu item makes keeping that dish around worth it for you and your diners.
If a popular dish is too expensive, changing the price may not be the best answer. In this case, it is important to determine what makes this dish so popular and whether you can replace some ingredients with less expensive alternatives.
While you’re examining your data, check on the dishes that don’t get ordered often. If there are any that aren’t landing with your diners, remove them from your menu.
Data needed: sales and income reports + personal accounts of your employees
By optimising how you organise your staff's schedules, you can reduce extra expenses, generate more income on busy nights and keep your staff happier with schedules that make sense.
Give each of your employees their own user account in your POS and track their performance. The best performers for key variables such as "average value of additions" and "average number of items per addition" are your upsellers—these are the employees who earn you the most. By having them work during the busiest periods (which you can determine by checking your hourly sales reports), you can make the most out of high traffic times.
Note: when you compare your employees to each other, make sure you pay attention to the days and hours they’re working. It wouldn’t be fair to directly compare an employee working on a busy Saturday afternoon to another working on slower Monday mornings.
You can also use your sales reports to assess the real hourly needs of your restaurant and make decisions about the number of employees that need to be present at a given time. With reports from your POS, determine your busiest days and strengthen your staff to meet demand. In the same vein, don’t throw money out the window by having too many employees working during quiet periods.
Data needed: data from your booking system + loyalty program
The data your POS is collecting is not limited to simple sales transactions. It can help you improve your service significantly.
On average, diners spend 30% more when they have a personal connection to the restaurant where they are eating.
How do restaurants establish that connection? By offering customers the most personalised service possible—but to get there, you need to know them first. Data from the most general information to the most specific preferences can help you serve your customers even better, which means they’re more likely to return and become regulars.
This is where a reservation system can make all the difference. If you have them answer a short questionnaire online when they’re booking, you can make a good impression as soon as they walk in your door. Your cooks can already anticipate their allergies or their intolerances, which further reduces the risk of error.
Want to go even further? Consider setting up a loyalty program. Loyalty programs are practical marketing tools that allow you to not only reward your customers based on the regularity of their visits, but also to collect data to help you serve them better in a centralised customer database. This way you—and your employees, even those who’ve only been on the team for a week—are always aware of your diners' personal preferences.
Don’t ignore the data your POS is collecting—you’ll let potential profit pass you by. Immerse yourself in the world of data, experience its benefits and optimise your business!
For 14 years, Lightspeed has empowered independent retailers and restaurateurs with the tools and information they need to launch, manage, market and grow their business.
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