How the numbers QSRs already have can help predict their future

| by John Lukas
How the numbers QSRs already have can help predict their future

Personalization is the buzzword of the 21st century. Everyone wants to feel like what they're getting was made for them and QSR customers are no different. 

And although data analytics probably wasn't the reason you got into the restaurant business, this discipline of analyzing and understanding the numbers is precisely what today's restaurateurs need to develop and deliver superior personalized experiences. 

Analytics, business intelligence, number-crunching -- whatever you call it this use of customer and industry data, it truly has become a key to QSR survival and growth today. But despite what many restaurateurs sometimes assume, savvy use of this information doesn't have to be boring or difficult. In fact, you may already have some of the numbers at your fingertips.

Why today, numbers are what speak a thousand words 

Data-driven marketing uses numbers gathered around brand/customer interactions to personalize future interactions with them. The result? Customers feel more connected to your brand because you "know" what they like. 
This kind of data use is critical to QSR operational decision-making because it helps operators more confidently implement changes and improvements that slash costs and improve operations.

Of course, the use of business intelligence in marketing and other operational decisions isn't new. However, industry experts predict this practice will grow in 2018, particularly among restaurant leadership as these key individuals continue striving  for their brands' differentiators. 

Fortunately, if you're reading this blog, you're probably ahead of the curve since many QSR operators have yet to jump on the bandwagon. So, while they're busy trying to figure out how to bring more customers through the door, you can use data you own to grow your sales in real time. 

We're not just talking about collecting email addresses and sending out a generic newsletter. Using data to drive your marketing will help you target and personalize your marketing to specific customers whenever you choose.

Sales records, whether from your in-store POS or from sales made through your mobile app or online store are just one likely source of information you probably already have at your disposal for customer behavior and trends. 

Taking a closer look at the data derived from these sales channels, you'll find noticeable trends that unlock your ability to personalize experiences and make informed business decisions such as the ones discussed below.  
 

Customize offerings
Many customers place identical or very similar orders each time they order online or in the restaurant. You'll find this data in your POS or CRM, or from orders placed using your mobile app. Using this data, each time a guest visits online or in person, you can customize greetings, offers, menu suggestions and more that are all relevant to them. The more personalized you make your offers, the greater the chance of them being redeemed.

Remember, the key to restaurant and retail success is repeat purchases. You need to get a new customer to dine at your location four times before your location makes their restaurant shortlist.  For existing customers, you want to shorten the interval between visits and you want to bump up the average ticket price when they come in.

Change up your menu 
In the past, chefs and operators made menu changes based on the seasons, product availability and low sell-through. But in today's digital environment, little things like viral social media posts can sway how much a menu item is ordered. With real-time data showing you exactly what's selling and not selling as well as a consolidated view into actual comments and sentiment trends across a range of online review sites, you can make educated decisions that positively affect your bottom line. 

Make staffing adjustments
Restaurant owners across the country are faced with employee turnover, wage increases, and rising insurance costs. That's why it's important to track your data for insights into how to cut labor costs. 

Sales data will illustrate the busiest and slowest times as well as which team members do the most upselling. You may find that you can get by with a smaller staff during the slow times, and you'd sell more if you scheduled those who upsell more during the busy times. 

Beyond your own data
Be aware also that services exist to provide demographic and even competitor data to you, which you may be unable to access through your credit card processing or other current sources. This expands the universe of potential insights. Likewise, it can help you see important trends comparing things like new versus returning customers, and traffic by zip code, for example.

The takeaway
There are countless ways to improve your business by tracking and monitoring your data, but the best place to start is with data you already have at your fingertips. By using a tool that pulls it all together for you, it's likely you'll gain insights a QSR operator can learn almost no other way today.  


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability



John Lukas

Mr. Lukas holds his Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems from the State University of New York and has held various progressive technical and executive management roles with organizations such as Bristol-Myers Corporation, Carrier Corporation, Carrols Corporation and Wendy's. Most recently John served as the Chief Information Officer for Arby's Restaurants and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

John attributes much of his organizational and professional growth to his team member business development focus. When technology talent understands how the core business functions the team will then be an effective liaison between business leadership and emerging technology capabilities thus becoming a true partner in advancing business objectives. Through this focus John has managed organizations supporting in excess of 10,000 restaurants while with the Wendy's / Arby's group and most recently the 2200+ units with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.


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