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The Best Dashboards for Restaurant Managers

The Best Dashboards for Restaurant Managers

Picture of Zachary Fagenson

Zachary Fagenson

Now, more than ever, managers need these invaluable resources, which focus on automatically gathering, analyzing, and sharing real-time business data, to understand not only how the business is performing day-to-day but how it can improve and what to do to seize every opportunity and overcome any challenge.  

Few people inside of a restaurant affect its success like managers. Not only do they drive the culture and the overall experience, they’re responsible for coordinating the countless logistics that go into getting the doors open daily and keeping them open.   

“The GM is the heart of the restaurant. It is the most important position in determining the performance of a restaurant,” El Pollo Loco CEO Larry Roberts told Restaurant Business Online. “Restaurants with strong general managers, who understand their operations, establish a culture of caring for and respecting people while still holding them accountable, and look to develop their teams, far outperform those who do not in terms of customer service, employee turnover, sales, and profits.” 

To achieve that in today’s challenging environment, restaurant managers need new skills, tools, and knowledge. They need skin in the game, to understand the why behind everything they do, and intuitive, technical tools to ensure they succeed, namely, the ability to make confident decisions based on real-time data.  

Understand the "why"

To become effective operators, general managers must understand the underlying reasons behind their actions. Once they know why daily duties such as entering invoices, asking for credit memos, or conducting inventory are essential to the bottom line and long-term success, they will be more likely to focus on the result rather than the activity.    

Ensure managers have skin in the game

Many ambitious companies are changing the manager title to “leader” or “restaurant operating partner” to signify the increased importance, to and sense of ownership in, the business. This becomes even more powerful for manager performance when paired with comp structure that allows leaders to accrue equity in the business by offering an additional compensation stream for those who deliver on the company’s business goals.  


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Give restaurant managers operator tools

Empowering general managers with accurate, real-time data and reporting is key to driving profitability. They shouldn’t spend time in the back office trying to build and read spreadsheets, making sense of old data, or piecing together disparate reports.

Implementing an easy-to-read, timely “control panel” of dashboards can help general managers make informed decisions that drive growth. 

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Dig into dashboards

Now, more than ever, managers need these invaluable resources, which focus on automatically gathering, analyzing, and sharing real-time business data, to understand not only how the business is performing day-to-day but how it can improve and what to do to seize every opportunity and overcome any challenge.  

Still, gathering, organizing, and analyzing a restaurant’s data is a massive effort. It grows even larger when accounting for the hundreds, and possibly thousands, of ingredients with changing prices that flow into the restaurant daily, hard-to-manage labor costs, rising and falling sales, and every other variable that makes managing a restaurant challenging. Now multiply that by multiple locations to get a real sense of the challenge.  

By centralizing all the data in one system that integrates the entire restaurant tech stack and automates calculations while consolidating it all in dynamic, preset dashboards, managers can spend less time trying to understand what’s happening inside their four walls or on delivery routes and more time improving sales, operations, and profitability.    

Restaurant dashboards should allow company leaders to see KPIs in terms of time, locations, or region, for example. Those KPIs can include sales, labor cost percentage, Sales per Labor Hour, sales per server, PMIX, and sales by channel and/or delivery vendor. On its own, for one location, this data is incredibly valuable. Restaurant managers, for example, have information like peak and trough sales times and the ability to schedule and cut staff in a way that regularly widens margins.     

Yet the data becomes even more valuable when lined up across multiple locations. Here, restaurant leadership can identify top and bottom performers and confidently decide organizational benchmarks. Once these are set, those that fall above and below quickly emerge, and leaders can dig into the data to understand why top performers succeed, share those best practices, and even create training and mentorship opportunities for those who are struggling.

Below is an overview of four critical dashboards that can help drive manager success today:

Sales & product mix dashboard

A sales and product mix dashboard provides a high-level sales summary and detailed product mix information. This should include net sales over a customizable trailing period that’s dynamic and in real-time, enabling users to see peak and trough days, as well as the specific values along that line. No one dashboard metric should live in isolation. This comprehensive dashboard includes visualizations for other vital sales metrics like guest count to identify traffic, frequency to understand how often guests visit, and check count to determine overall spend. Finally, this modular dashboard should also include a breakout of items by sales volume to help identify the most and least popular dishes.   

Nested within a daily net sales dashboard should be the ability to break a day into its parts to identify which shifts are the most productive and thus require the most staff. Finally, sales mix by order mode should clearly and easily highlight which third-party delivery service providers are generating the most business over any given time period.  

Intraday dashboard

By integrating your POS system with a comprehensive restaurant management platform with intelligence and dashboard capabilities, restaurant leaders can see and act on information like never before. With features like intraday polling, the system gathers POS data every 15 minutes so restaurant managers and those above them can understand business performance in real-time.   

This includes the ability to see metrics like labor percentage and sales by order mode in 15- or 30-minute intervals. Of course, these dashboards should also be available geographically so operators and above can see how the business is performing overall and which locations are standouts and may have procedures to emulate companywide.  

Finally, managers can use this dashboard to see sales by server and understand in real-time who is leading the charge, who’s the top server at any moment, who’s working the best, and who’s getting paid the most, empowering managers to put aces in their places while being able to look at scheduled entrees for labor hours, scheduled sales per labor hour and ongoing overtime spend.  

Purchase & inventory dashboard

Restaurant inventory management

This dashboard empowers managers to get granular and easily visualize food purchases, food orders, and vendor spend. Groupings and filters provide the ability to see individual or related groups of items. Pricing analyses show individual items received and when and where there are discrepancies between orders and invoices. This data should also be broken out into such categories as liquor, beer, wine, and food. Managers should also be able to go one level deeper to look at meat, seafood, grocery, or produce, all the way down to things like dry goods or supplies or spices.   

When looking at individual items or any of these metrics, users should be able to quickly and easily sort categories by ascending or descending values and change how that data is displayed. Finding the most significant variances between ordered and received amounts is quick and easy, whether for one or multiple locations. Add onto that the ability to look and see who you are ordering the most food from, spending the most with, and variance trends finally give managers the upper hand in their constant effort to control food costs.   

Labor dashboard

By layering dashboards with data-driven labor and scheduling tools that build profitable schedules based on historic sales combined with budgets and forecasts, managers can quickly and easily access and act on insightful information about actual versus scheduled labor across different metrics, locations, and time periods. This dashboard provides the ability to see, in aggregate or detail, hours deployed, shift counts deployed, wages, and labor percentage. Those metrics can then be compared to what was scheduled, providing variances and a daily breakdown in a highly visible format to help managers control issues like overtime and untimely punches in real-time.  

The dashboards could also be broken out by job title, job code, or employee name to identify the source of a challenge and an easy-to-act-on list of who might need further training and who went above and beyond. That same analysis can also be applied to managers overseeing individual shifts to quickly and easily see high-level and granular labor performance data. Pairing that with metrics like actual entrees per labor hour, sales per labor hour, overtime hours, regular wages, and the like, displayed either at location or employee levels, helps managers meaningfully understand how to provide clear guidance to individuals and how the overall business can improve.  


Now is the time for restaurant managers to take their proactive role as the heart of the business to the next level. By implementing properly designed dashboards based on labor, sales, and product mix, inventory & purchasing, and intraday data, they can consolidate all of their data into streamlined visuals that make it easier to see exactly what’s going on in real-time, and now more than ever it’s important to have control over our restaurants. Not only will this empower managers with a better understanding of their limitations and potential areas of growth, but it will also allow access to an unprecedented source of lasting insight. Take advantage of automated data to give managers the tools they need to make smart decisions that drive sustainable success over the long term. 

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