Technology Trends

Unlocking Potential in Restaurant Chains: Leveraging Data for Performance Optimization

Will Pacio
June 4, 2023

In the world of restaurant businesses, fine-tuning operations and performance for net income optimization is a challenging feat. At this intersection, technology, data, and artificial intelligence (AI) promise a revolutionary shift. However, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, only 36% of fine dining operators and 26% of family dining operators consider their restaurants to be on the cutting edge of technology use, indicating the potential for more widespread adoption. Harnessing these technologies can help restaurant chains and franchises improve their bottom line by increasing sales and reducing costs.

Current Scenario: Tapping into Unexplored Digital Realms

Despite the availability of sophisticated data analysis tools and AI, many restaurants are not exploiting these resources to their fullest. Traditional restaurant management, which relies heavily on human instinct and experience, often fails to recognize the potential of data-driven insights. By ignoring the wealth of information that lies in daily operational data, restaurant chains and franchises are missing out on opportunities for increased efficiency, growth, and net income optimization.

In fact, a recent study by Toast, a restaurant management platform, found that 52% of restaurant professionals allocated just 10% of their budget to technology pre-COVID. Given the impact of the pandemic on digitization trends, this percentage is likely to increase, but it still underlines the existing shortfall.

Harnessing the Power of Data and AI

Data in the restaurant industry is a goldmine waiting to be excavated. Coupled with AI and advanced analytics, multi-unit restaurant operators can gain in-depth insights that can shape the future of their businesses. Data can be turned into a roadmap to boost performance, increase customer satisfaction, and escalate net income.

For instance, by mining sales data, managers can uncover peak business hours, favorite menu items, and even shifting customer preferences. The COGS and inventory data can reveal patterns that streamline supply chain operations and reduce waste. The KPMG 2022 Food and Beverage Industry Outlook highlights that AI can contribute to automating inventory management and reducing human error. It also emphasizes predictive analytics' role in anticipating sales and customer demand, leading to more efficient inventory management.

Embracing a New Era of Data-Driven Restaurant Management

Armed with the power of data analysis, restaurant managers can revolutionize their operations. The insights garnered from these tools enable them to strategize and make informed decisions leading to increased profitability.

Data can also be used to identify the highest-performing staff, enabling managers to understand successful strategies and develop staff training programs. In an industry where 35% of operators rank recruiting and retaining employees as a top challenge (National Restaurant Association), this could be an invaluable tool.

Moreover, restaurants can leverage their data to enhance customer experience and tailor marketing campaigns. A study by the Data & Marketing Association noted that segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue, emphasizing the effectiveness of personalized marketing.

Looking Ahead: The Imperative of Data and Tech Adoption

Transitioning to a data-driven approach is an urgent necessity for the restaurant industry, requiring both a change in mindset and an investment in data analytics tools and training. It's critical that restaurant chains understand that leveraging data goes beyond investing in technology. It involves fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation.

Research by McKinsey indicates that companies that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85 percent in sales growth and more than 25 percent in gross margin. This illustrates the high returns possible from investing in data-driven approaches.

The vast potential of data and AI in the restaurant industry is clear. By harnessing this potential, restaurant chains and franchises can optimize their performance, increase net income, and position themselves uniquely in a competitive marketplace. As we look towards the future, one thing is clear - the success of the restaurant industry will be powered by data and technology. As such, it's time for restaurant operators to step into this new era.