This article appeared in QSR Magazine and features Sofia Franzon, Product Manager of Business Intelligence at Restaurant365.
The pandemic forced the restaurant industry to implement technology at a breakneck speed. Tech stacks grew across the industry almost overnight.
As brands have begun to acclimate to new ways of doing business, they are also accumulating more data than ever before. But brands are finding out that accumulating that data is the relatively easy part: Restaurant365’s recent report “State of Business Intelligence” found that more than 58 percent of restaurant operators said their organizations struggle to turn data into data-driven decisions.
“Making data-driven decisions, especially for smaller chains, can be hard,” says Sofia Franzon, product manager of business intelligence at Restaurant365, who recently hosted a webinar on this very topic. “Data lives everywhere, especially if a brand is not using a single platform to capture it, and even with consolidated data, resourcing, time, and know-how can hinder impactful findings.”
The solution to this problem, Franzon says, is business intelligence, or software that can analyze huge swaths of data and present it in a way that leads to quick, informed decisions. Here are a few ways business intelligence helps accomplish that task.
Make It User Friendly
Because restaurant organizations often need a variety of people to see data, it’s important that the data is presented in a way that just about anybody can understand. User-friendly and visually inviting charts and graphs can yield the best results in this respect.
“I think when people hear ‘business intelligence’ or ‘data-driven decision-making’, eyes can glaze over—they’re buzzwords,” Franzon says. “But business intelligence is really the opposite of that in a lot of ways—it can meet you at your organization’s data maturity, from self-service analytics to canned dashboards and reports that make understanding your business easy.”
Digital expansion has brought with it different hurdles. One of those hurdles is the fact that data has become siloed on different platforms and in different departments of each restaurant chain. Restaurant365’s “State of Business Intelligence” report found that 52 percent of operators said their restaurant organization had scattered data with no clear path to integration.
“Data gets formatted in different ways, and tying it all together has been an obstacle,” says James Holland, CFO at SquareOne, which operates 8 restaurant locations across 4 different concepts. “The bigger challenge we face has been how the data is given to us. It’s messy, limited, or specially formatted, and not raw enough for us to use effectively.”
Restaurant365’s Intelligence feature unites data sets so restaurants can get a comprehensive view of their operations. This keeps the data flowing in and means everyone from accountants to restaurant managers to data scientists save massive amounts of time.
“Freeing up analysts’ time to dig deeper into the business is crucial, and at times, standard reporting responsibilities can come in the way of that,” Franzon says. “With data living everywhere, reports that require mandatory updating, and endless excel copy-and-pasting, digging deeper is impossible. Our goal with R365 Intelligence was to create a solution that gives time back to different stakeholders to spend time running the business and less time copy-and-pasting.”
Restaurant365’s Intelligence feature can pull POS data and update reports every 15 minutes, giving finance and operations teams the ability to plan in real-time fashion. It can help store-level managers do something as simple as cutting somebody early when it’s clear a sales forecast was inaccurate, or it can even catch bigger-picture things like if a vendor is billing too much for a certain product. That only needs to happen once to be flagged by Restaurant365’s Intelligence.
At a time when expenses have inflated to all-time highs, having real-time checks and balances within a tech stack is as important as ever before. Because Restaurant365’s platform—which was built by restaurant people for restaurant people—goes far beyond just its business intelligence feature and gives restaurant operators the ability to control costs and drive sales.
“Everyone at Restaurant365 has spent time working in the industry, and that’s why our platform is so effective,” Franzon says. “We not only really care and are passionate about the work we do, but also understand how challenging the industry is and what our customers’ specific needs are.”