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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Innovative Uses to Increase Your Return on Investment in Technology

Most restaurants with revenue above $1 million have invested in a POS system.  These systems track the entire sales cycle and provide tremendous reports to help managers understand their business.

Popular reports show customer counts, server productivity, menu item popularity and scheduling efficiency.  Since all customer orders are tracked by time of day, the same data can be used to track arrival rates and average service time.  This information combined with your seat count can be used to predict the length of lines on busy nights.  Your host staff needs this data when communicating approximate wait times.

Guests counts by day of the week can be used to improve your orders for highly perishable items purchased daily.  If you offer a complimentary bread basket, you can use the information to reduce waste.  Standard recipes can be combined with expected menu item sales counts to help forecast demand for expensive protein items.

There are reports which show menu item counts by meal course.  Dividing these category counts by your covers will provide percentage data which can be used in developing a customer profile.

Restaurant chains have developed pricing strategies built around a dinner for two including one split appetizer and two entrees.  The data used to develop this strategy comes from the menu item reports.  You can use the recap sales by meal course to find out what percentage of your guests choose a dessert.  A server contest could help raise this percentage and your POS system will provide the name of the winner.  Menu item sales may be tracked by server.

For longer periods of time, including weekly, monthly and annual reports, the system tracks your check average.  This number equals the total revenue divided by the total number of guests served.  Some systems allow you to enter the number of seats.  The total number of guests served divided by the total number of seats equals the turnover rate for your dining room.

Sales equal the number of seats times the number of turns times the check average.  Should you expand your dining room?  What will help raise the check average?  Are we losing business?  These questions can be answered with standard reports used together to see the whole picture.

If you track the number of prospective guests who decide not to wait for a table during busy periods, decisions regarding your capacity can be made using this data.  This information is particularly important for restaurants in resort areas or which depend on sales from just one day a week.

Many restaurants build their menu each day using items available in the local marketplace.  A significant share of the daily revenue is derived from sales of specials.  If your chef has an eclectic approach, you will find it more difficult to predict customer behavior.  Your covers forecast may be accurate.  However, you won't have a wealth of data on specific menu item popularity.  Expect a higher number of sold out entrees and greater spoilage despite the use of market fresh ingredients.

POS systems can be setup to track more than just Special 1, Special 2, Special 3, etc.  You can create galleries of specials to track the preferences for specific entrees.  This data can be used to create seasonal menus which will reduce the number of daily specials while simultaneously offering the most successful menu choices.  This menu approach can help chefs and managers improve forecasts and increase guest satisfaction.

Focused menus are generally used by ambitious companies with a national strategy.  It is much easier to order food for a limited menu built around burgers, pizza, chicken, burritos, or stir fried Asian combinations.  Your POS system manufacturer may offer enterprise reporting with many of the best reports available for a region, state, metropolitan area or the entire company.

These restaurant management groups track benchmark statistics including average unit volume, food cost percentage, labor cost percentage and gross profit.  Stores which are not meeting company objectives receive more attention from the headquarters staff.  The enterprise data can be sliced in more creative ways to make comparisons more meaningful.

The location profile can be used to create logical groupings including interstate exit stores, airport stores, mall food court stores, urban locations, locations near schools, etc.  Using targeted benchmark data can provide useful information for improving operations results and in selecting future sites for expansion. 

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