How Are Restaurants Using Analytics to Drive Better ROI


There are a number of food startups that are killing it out in the market. And it’s no surprise why they are called food-tech newbies. Yet, big restaurants nowadays are resting on their laurels, assuming business will flow to them like it has in the past.

Noticing those sudden drops in your growth and revenue curves? If your restaurant is using operating procedures that reckon with the paperback, or a Windows XP era PC, can I introduce you to the new-age, powered by restaurant analytics?

I’m not sure how technology providers for restaurants haven’t reached your doorstep to pitch their service, but the QSR IT market is set to touch $6.22 billion by 2024.

If you want your restaurant to not just survive, but thrive in 2024, data analytics for restaurants becomes a non-negotiable. You just got to deploy it across your restaurant business. I’ll take you on a quick journey on driving better ROI with it:

Cooking Up Data Recipes

No restaurant owner can neither say they don’t own any form of data, nor can any say they’ve aced their data and restaurant analytics mix. It’s an evolving game, but you have got to place yourself among your peers, who could be way ahead and reaping dividends already.

Whether you own a restaurant across two locations, or some across two continents, your objective is always to look at scraping that last byte of data from every source that impacts your business. And this has all got to flow into a central database leveraged by analytics for restaurants, or an always-on network which crunches data from your orders, store locations or menu performance.

Add external data through platforms like OpenTable which help you scan review sites like Yelp, apps and social media, and you can drive context and plug questions your internal data might not be able to answer. Analysis from such data recipes should then be applied and incorporated into future targeting.

Tracking Customers’ Gastronomic Trails

Who doesn’t like stalking their customer invisibly, monitoring their culinary habits and preferences? Well, freak not, because we’re not advocating anything sinister. But with the versatile nature of restaurant analytics, coupled with customer’s willingness to opt into information sharing programs in return for a delightful food experience the next time they visit, restaurants are pulling all stops to ensure their patrons keep coming back for more.

Look at how 28 diners were surveyed each night by a Michelin-starred restaurant called Oriole, where each of them represented a larger customer set displaying similar culinary characteristics. They wanted to keep on their patron’s trail, and with the help of tools like menu analytics for restaurants, were able to narrow down on their top 100 guests who visited and spent the most amount of money. Further, they leveraged these insights to compel their other existing and potential customers to come and spend more, by up-selling or cross-selling related items.

Increasing the Analytics Menu For Restaurant Functions

Your restaurant has several functions or departments: Operations, Support, marketing, vendor management, and more. Wouldn’t you benefit if you could gather data from all these functions across a year? Think about it. And when you have customized restaurant analytics offerings like menu or location or marketing analytics, there are enormous advantages.

A popular dashboard provider for restaurants divides menu analytics into categories like ‘one-hit wonders’ or ‘hidden gems’ to understand which items would be loved by customers according to their personalities and eating preferences.

The potential is unlimited, but you have to got to get your hands dirty, trying out various forms of data analytics for restaurants, to fine tune on a combination that is closest to serving your unique business needs. And with technology disrupting every industry out there, you must continue investing to keep your technology stack updated and abreast of your peers.

Boosting Employees’ & Partners’ Performance With Data-Rich Nutrients

A CBS journalist covering the scale Avero, restaurant application provider, had reached in New York, was told how a waiter was unable to convert wine bottles at the ‘last mile’ i.e at the table. A survey whose results were fed into the data system uncovered the problem: She had a simple problem of uncorking the bottle.

Fast forward time, and a bit of training helped her get her skill and confidence on track. Restaurant analytics was at work again, this time in the form of key partner and staff analytics. From your staff delivering ‘x’ performance, close monitoring of the revenue they bring in, number of upsold products, or even the feedback given by customers can all be mapped, and growth of 2x or 3x can be realized as well.

Data analytics for restaurants can help optimize the utilization of partner services, like suppliers or contract agencies. With changing demand, market conditions or even weather patterns that could disrupt delivery of fresh produce, predictive analytics or machine learning could be applied to the data. The algorithms could self-learn and optimize vendor utilization, helping both parties gain immensely.

Garnishing Dishes with Red Hot AI & IoT

Aren’t most of the insurance or automobile companies using chatbots on their social channels? Then why is the restaurant industry not being talking about, in the same vein? Some have made a headstart. Domino’s Pizza coordinated the release of its Messenger chatbot with the Superbowl, bringing in tremendous orders, and brand recognition. With technology products having faster cycles, and increasing computing power, restaurant analytics powered by artificial intelligence and neural learning are being offered on cloud applications.

Cloud technologies are allowing restaurants to be run from a mobile app, where waiters can have real-time feed of the demand from the tables, or the items available in the kitchen. That’s the power of menu analytics for restaurants as well. Additionally, there are services that are now offering the amount of nutrition the order contains, and tied in with information about the customer’s health, the waiter can recommend the customer to go on a light diet, or on a protein-packed one.

Culinary Evolution To Reach The Top

The food and restarurant industry will be an evergreen one, as there is this cross-pollination of cultures and people experimenting new foods. But as businesses fight it out to stay on top, they will invariably test and use forms of restaurant analytics.

For example, the Ralph Brennan group can keep track of 78 servers at one of their chains, Jazz Kitchen, which is thousands of miles away. They do this through a staff analytics solution called Server Scorecard by Avero, helping them not just tie in individual restaurant performance to their global performance, by inculcating a competitive spirit of excellence, among its members.

The evolution of the culinary industry has taken many an unexpected turn, like Grubhub disrupting the status quo of ordering and rating food. With new forms of technologies like smart speaker solutions and IoT smart beacons delivering even more information from the restaurant premises itself, the future is something you could look to capitalize on.


Despite nearly $2.5 billion being invested globally in restaurant technologies since 2012, we can still find restaurants around that are fighting it out in the red waters, nearly choking themselves to death. Use the blue ocean strategy, and incorporate new age restaurant analytics, building artificial intelligence and deep learning technologies to compete in a higher realm. There are diverse solutions to choose from, and the potential to unlock is unlimited. It’s your call to incorporate technology to the fullest in your restaurant business.



Rama Krishna (RK)
Rama Krishna (RK)
RK is the Vice President, Business Solutions & Strategy for UNLOCK INSIGHTS.
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