The Daily Rail: Is It Time for Restaurants to Cut Ties with Lunch Service?

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Why it matters to you: Lunch traffic is on the decline nationally.

Revenue periods are among the most interesting aspects of managing a restaurant. Dinner, lunch, happy hour, late night… they all have different guest profiles, provide different experiences to guests, and make up a healthy full-service restaurants overall traffic.

Unfortunately, lunch is dropping faster than anyone anticipated with 433 million fewer lunch visits in 2016 than the previous year. That translates into billions of dollars lost to traffic declines. The problem is that there ain’t much you can do about this.

A big portion of this drop can be attributed to the work from home trend. It is estimated that 24% of workers now spend some portion of their week working from home. It’s unlikely that these workers will leave their homes to get lunch. Add to that online shopping that is keeping people from the brick and mortar stores at malls and shopping districts, and things don’t look great for lunch. Oh, and lunch COGS is also on the rise, just to make the whole thing complete.

The question is, how much energy should you commit to a segment that might actually be lowering profits and putting more tension on your staffing issues? At minimum, if you have seen steep declines in your lunch traffic, you should analyze what it costs to run lunch and make sure you aren’t upside down. If you aren’t doing sufficient sales to break even, the it might be time to rethink your revenue periods.


Why it matters to you: It’s time you look at the data your business provides to drive traffic!

 Oh, no! Not another conversation about big data! Yup, we just can’t stop talking about how data is the key to unlocking your direct restaurant marketing. If you are guessing who your guests are and where they come from, they you are at a distinct disadvantage of your own making. The data is right there, between your credit card sales, POS results, and other potential ways of collecting this information. This is especially true with mobile applications that mark the guest’s appearance at your place and tracks exactly how long they stay. So, what can you learn of value from big data?

Some of the obvious questions answered by big data are who your guests are, what they order when they visit, how long do they stay, and why do they come back. This post does a fine job of explaining the answers to those question. However, none of it matters if you aren’t willing to access the information and make decisions on your business as a result. It’s literally like having the answer key to the test and refusing to look at it.

The difference is that there is no ethical reason not to access the data and, ironically, you are penalizing yourself by not. Whether you access this data through companies that do the analysis like Upserve or just take the data and make your own analysis, you simply can’t afford to ignore this insight if you want to remain competitive.