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The Importance of Linking Restaurant Data

Posted by Leslie

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Executives running multi-unit restaurants use a number of different systems to keep track of the health of their business. Many times I've talked with restaurant executives that are looking for one system that handles it all. Unfortunately, that doesn't exist. Different systems are really good at different things.

Point of Sale systems are great at capturing transactional details, Back of House Systems are great at capturing things like inventory and Business Intelligence (BI) systems are great at pulling it all together so you can analyze the overall health of your restaurant company. But what information should you be pulling together and why is it important?

What Restaurant Information Should You Link?

The more information you bring together the greater ability you will have to get answers to deep questions about the relationships between different areas of your business. Starchasers CIO, Brian Anthony, has been a Mirus customer for over seven years.

During that time his data warehouse has grown into over 10 sources of data. "Inside the main source, which is the point of sale, we do not have any SQL tables we’re not sending to Mirus. To put the amount of data that we’re sending now - once we included the recipes and inventories and daily counts, into perspective, if you took an excel spreadsheet started at column A row 1 we would go to column ZZ, row 65,000 per store per day. So we’re sending massive volumes of data but we’ve built on that over the years," says Anthony.

Examples of data you should include in your data warehouse:

  • Point of Sale
  • Inventory
  • Food Cost
  • Speed of Service
  • Labor Scheduling
  • Guest Feedback
  • Customer Loyalty

Why Linking Restaurant Data Is Important?

So you've got all this data in it's own little system that probably provides you with some sort of reporting, why break it out of it's silos and link it all together? The main reason why most restaurant executives choose to link their data together is an effort to have one version of the truth. With numbers residing in different systems it's easy for people's view of the company to get skewed.

Finance is looking at sales numbers from the spreadsheets they've created, operations is getting their sales and labor percentages from the spreadsheets they've created and marketing is using another set of numbers. Throw in a little human error and it's hard to tell which set of numbers is correct. Having one source of information for everyone to access gets everyone on the same page.

Another reason to link your data is so everyone knows where to go to get answers. "As a CFO I was frustrated because I always had to go to IT to find out where do I get this, where do I get that. Even as the CFO I didn’t know because we had data all over the place," says Lehigh Valley CFO Chris Defrain. Now that they've centralized their data Defrain says his team has become much more analytical. "I have more confidence in the data because once a report is set up I don’t have to rely on the IT team choosing the same parameters and all that type of stuff."

A third reason to link your data is to get to know your customers and their preferences which allows you to market to and better serve their needs. Anthony has chosen to tie together information from his text marketing, customer loyalty, and mystery shopper platforms. "All of those outside sources have check numbers attached to them , and the second that you have the relationship between the check number and guest, now you can start doing some really deep diving drills," he explains.

How to Link Data

The best way to go about linking your data is with a centralized data warehouse. There are many options when it comes to creating a data warehouse. You can choose to build one internally or work with a 3rd party provider. Whichever route you choose you'll want to be sure the methods used to extract, transform and load the data leave you with clean data that ties out or matches up with the source system.

You'll also want to make sure the tools you use to analyze the information in your data warehouse allow you to access and slice and dice the data as needed to answer your questions. Rudy Cordero, former Manager Restaurant Systems for Sizzler USA, says his company had reached the point where they needed a centralized reporting system that could wrangle all their data and produce reports. "The way we were doing it, pulling reports out of this area and this area and then trying to make it work, was just too cumbersome and too labor intensive," Cordero says.  His company chose to work with a 3rd party provider, Mirus, instead of building it themselves to save time. "Outsourcing allows you to work on other areas and be strategic and preventive rather than reactive. Just getting the data from all the different sources and handling it is a big help," says Cordero.

Building a data warehouse that will get you all the answers takes time. Plugging in to a 3rd party provider can help speed up the process instead of starting with a blank slate. Most restaurant executives start with the basics, sales and labor, and build from there based on what they feel is most important to focus on and the answers they seek.  You shouldn't expect to have it all on day one, but do know as you add information to your data warehouse your level of analytical sophistication will grow.

Free Guide: 3 Basics to Harnessing Restaurant Big Data



How is your restaurant running analytical reports?

Are you still using spreadsheets to analyze heavy amounts of data?

About Mirus:

Mirus is a multi-unit restaurant reporting software used by operations, finance, IT, and marketing.

For more information, please visit: www.mirus.com

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Topics: Restaurant Data Warehouse, Restaurant IT


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