Beginner’s Guide to Restaurant Analytics

If you operate a busy restaurant, you’re probably collating loads of data without even realising it. However with the right technology at hand, we explain how restaurants can put all this excess data to good use and point out the benefits. Here’s our guide to restaurant analytics.

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Why Restaurants Should Use Analytics 

Unknowingly, every restaurant processes thousands of numbers all day. Menu bestsellers, customer intake, busiest nights — these are the sort of things that can be measured in a more meaningful way.

Yet unless a restaurant operator keeps pen-and-paper notes of these figures, potential insights will remain in the dark.

With the advent of restaurant apps, insights can be made in real-time, viewable from the palm of your hands. So they can provide insights into your restaurant’s way of doing things — but what does this mean exactly?


Figure 1. iPad by Rego Korosi via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Data Analytics for Restaurants Provide Useful Insights 

The reasoning behind analytics of any sort is this: to speculate early indications of likely trends. 

The Financial Times has reported on the purpose of restaurant analytics and mentioned the need to recognise “growth trends” to sustain future business. Data offers us a fair idea of the shape of things to come — or better.

Take post-COVID recovery as an example, where reopening of restaurant doors has exceeded expectations. Andrew Godwin, an economics expert, has commented on recovery stepping up “another gear”, forecasting extra growth for restaurants. Restaurant operators had a good idea of what customers needed; hence they were able to immediately bounce back after restrictions had eased. 

Therefore, analytics do two things: (1) anticipate the needs of customers, and (2) provide restaurants with growth opportunities. 

Restaurant operators can analyse data themselves or hire analysts to do the heavy lifting for them, but both these options are time-consuming and cost money. Also, a manual method opens up room for user errors as it relies on a person’s brainpower alone…

Why Choose Restaurant Analytics Software

Restaurants shouldn’t feel like they need a degree in data science to know how their restaurant is performing. Not to mention the time-consuming aspect of measuring figures. Rather, restaurateurs should focus on attending to customers, not retreating to the back office to work out data insights, worrying about interpreting numbers properly.

Restaurant analytics software is simple, requiring no specialist skills.

Software providers aim to transform your restaurant’s data into meaningful stories. For instance, a certain dish may outsell others on Wednesday night. As such, restaurant analytic software will help restaurants figure out the reasons why.

However, restaurants must bear in mind that action always follows analysis. A well-known business school maxim says that “what you can measure, you can manage”. Yet as Ron Baker a business consultant has pointed out, an action plan must always follow an analysis report. “You don’t become a better golfer by only keeping score,” he said.

As the needs of a restaurant evolve, so does its data. Specifically, restaurant predictive analytics can help you understand your marketplace, with a keen eye looking toward your customer’s needs. 

Maybe you want to know how many people wait at your restaurant. Does this vary on certain nights? Moreover, how many people do you lose because of the wait? This is what the software is for.   

Guide to Restaurant Analytics: Which Software to Choose

There are several restaurant analytics software options to choose from and each has a price.

For high-volume restaurants, many companies offer operators the chance to adjust a point-of-sale (POS) solution to their trade. Their scales vary in price. For example, if you have a high table turnover, an analytics system will cost more proportionate to the overall numbers your restaurant crunches.

Many companies also aim their service at smaller businesses, costing less. Let’s say you run a café with few tables and one terminal to process payments from. A software package with limited features — such as basic table reporting but no in-depth analytics or support — will be significantly cheaper.

Such options exclude device integration. Pay more and a company usually offers an iPad or other handheld technology with software installed. This allows front-of-house staff to take care of tableside ordering — the ability to process both customer orders and payments directly at a table while processing data.

All of the above options involve various price points, from monthly charges to per-payment commissions. For instance, a software company may implement a point-of-sale system and charge a small percentage (usually between 2—3 percent) of each swipe, dip, or tap of a customer’s card. 

Though your restaurant may gain valuable analytics, your business will also lose a significant proportion of income when processing payments. Find out more about the ins and outs of pricing options and how they affect your restaurant’s revenue.


Figure 2. Women in Tech by WOCinTech Chat via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Free Restaurant Analytics with Carbonara App 

How accurate are your current wait quotes to customers? Do you tell them 20—30 minutes only to find they’re still waiting at the 45-minute mark? Moreover, how many of your guests are actually leaving because of these wait windows?

Well, there’s good news. Carbonara App specialises in working around average wait times and overall table turnover — all for free

Displaying figures via an easy-to-read interface, Carbonara App’s analytics feature helps restaurants forecast trends and future revenue. By comparing table turnover with historical data, operators will be able to devise strategies and new ways to make the most out of serving their customers.

It’s simple: Registered email addresses receive regular data reports, which illustrate your restaurant’s performance, viewable from any smartphone/handheld device.

Better planning and understanding of customer trends both come with this, boosting your restaurant’s capability to deal with busy periods — even leading to new discoveries. Maybe you’ll find that implementing table limits on certain evenings is a good idea. Read about our recommended times with Carbonara App’s table limit feature.


Figure 3. Modern Workspace by Marco Verch via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

So far restaurant analytics belonged to the few businesses that could afford it. Now with Carbonara App, any staff member can receive these reports and collaborate on potential areas to improve on. Let Carbonara App help strengthen your team — try it today!

Still wondering what restaurants use analytics for? Contact us to learn more about how data analytics use data intelligently to improve your restaurant’s performance.