3 Keys to Building a Data-Driven Restaurant

With so much affordable and comprehensive data at our fingertips, many large organizations have made data and analysis a priority, building it into the very basis of company culture and turning to a model of evidence-based decision making. Now, the restaurant industry is beginning to follow suit, recognizing data’s immense value to both the customer experience and the bottom line.

In the business world, the benefits are clear: MIT’s Sloan School of Management found that data-driven organizations have a 5-6% higher output in productivity than their less data-driven counterparts. Another finding from Nucleus Research demonstrated that an investment in analytics pays off, with a $13.01 average return for every dollar spent.

For restaurateurs, the most immediate payoff of leveraging data comes in the ability to better understand customers. In fact, 40% of U.S. consumers reported spending more because of personalized service. By collecting data on consuming habits and focusing in on your most loyal customers, you can group your customers into audience segments to deliver effective marketing campaigns. After all, you wouldn’t want to send your vegetarian diners a promotion for surf ‘n turf night, would you? Building a culture of data allows you to send the right message to the right customers at the right time to drive customer retention. That enhanced customer experience gives you a critical edge in the cutthroat restaurant industry, ultimately boosting your bottom line.

Now that we are starting to understand data’s worth, let’s take a look at how to make big data work for you. Here are three ways to adapt common data and analytics practices at large enterprises to help you create a data-driven culture at your restaurant chain:

1. Collect data from multiple sources.

Chances are that you have loads of sources from which to mine data. From your POS system and mobile app feedback mechanism to your online ordering platform, social media accounts and online reviews, the data is there, just waiting to be analyzed. If you’re lucky, the data is already aggregated on a single dashboard through a customer engagement solution like Como Sense. Either way, you’ll want to make it a habit to review data from each and every one of your sources on a regular basis. In doing so, you’ll avoid missing out on valuable opportunities to leverage your data to better understand your customers, their purchasing behaviors and their preferences in order to create effective, tailored campaigns.

2. Let data make decisions.

With a bevy of statistics in your back pocket, you should be using data to back up every decision you make, bringing laser focus to your campaigns. This data-driven approach not only enables smarter, more informed decision making; it also makes you more accountable for your decisions and provides a level of transparency that would not otherwise be possible. What was once based on estimates and hunches can now be explained by concrete statistics, speeding decisions and increasing confidence. The gut instinct you once had about the new offering of 1+1 on Sunday nights can now be verified to ensure a positive ROI, and not end up diluting revenue.

3. Democratize your data.

Data and analytics should belong to all stakeholders within your restaurant chain, not just the higher ups, so it’s important to make your data accessible to all — from your franchisees and location managers to your front-line staff. Managers in each of your locations should review data reports and KPIs daily as part of their regular routines to be sure they’re taking full advantage of the data that’s available to them. Building a culture where staff at each of your locations feels beholden to this data will allow them to take advantage of it to personalize the customer experience, upselling and bringing customers back time and time again.

The transformation to a data-driven culture won’t happen overnight. Like any cultural shift within the restaurant industry, it’s a lengthy process that takes hard work from within every level of your business. Nevertheless, data has the ability to provide clarity, to confirm your best instincts, and to drive you down another path when your instincts prove false. And the end result is well worth the effort, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction, driving customer retention, and impacting your bottom line. And what’s a little elbow grease compared to that?


For more practical tips on leveraging your data to boost sales, check out this blog post.