Three ways 'big data' can mean big sales for restaurants

Big data has been a hot buzzword in the technology industry for a few years now as it allows companies to unlock their data to make better, improved business decisions. After all, the more you know, the better you can drive your restaurant to perform at it's best.

Knowledge is power

What is big data?

Big data is a term used when referring to large volumes of data that is constantly flowing into a business on a daily basis. It's also what businesses do with that data. Retail stores and online companies use it a lot to make quick but informed decisions on the fly. For the restaurant industry, this can be everything from sales information, ingredient expenses, staff performance, scheduling, and more.

How can restaurants use big data?

A fair question. Here are three ways restaurants operators can dig into their data to improve their business from big data and analytics expert Ryan Kh.

Create a better selling menu. Profits are thin as it is at restaurants, so any insight into how a restaurant can make more money has to be seriously considered by operators. With big data, operators and managers can analyze every item on their menu, see what sells and what doesn't, and swap items in and out of a menu based on historical performance, Kh said.

Imagine knowing that your duck confit sells best on Fridays in October or that your chicken piccata is always paired with the same brand of wine or you sold more of that new flatbread pizza app than you originally expected? You can be confident in every one of your business decisions when it's based off real world information delivered to you everyday.

Track your staffs' performance. Retaining your restaurant's best employees is a challenge, but so is properly tracking your staff's performance. How many operators are digging into their data to see who their best sellers are and what they're selling? How about who your most efficient line cooks are?

"Without talented and friendly waiters and waitresses to encourage more sales of foods and beverages, the restaurant could falter," Kh said. "With big data, though, a restaurant manager can collect all of this information and more accurately train staff members who need the extra help, while rewarding those that do really well."

Improve the experience for your guests, especially regulars. Dining at your restaurant should be an amazing experience for your guests. And what better way to improve on that experience than to customize it to your regulars' personal tastes?

Restaurants that collect and analyze their data will be able to see what their best customers like and build a catered experience based off that information. Guests would be wowed by that.

"Big data in the restaurant world allows you to go beyond simply analyzing how well certain menu items sell because it also allows you to really get to know your customers better," Kh said, "And this means that you can find ways of continually attracting more people to your establishment who may not have ever heard of you before, while also ensuring your current base keeps coming back."

In such a tough, competitive industry, restaurant owners and operators can give their establish a big boost with just a little insight from their data. All it takes is the right tools to collect the information and a little mental heavy lifting to make sense of it all.

What are you doing with your restaurant's data? Let us know in the comments below or email us.