Big data analytics are more accessible to restaurant franchises than ever

Today’s restaurant franchisees are more equipped than ever to make informed decisions about their businesses to attract customers, increase sales, manage costs, predict inventory, and much more.

Data from POS systems, mobile ordering, in-store kiosks, social media, and many other sources allows franchisees to connect with customers and manage business in ways never before possible. Together, this data drives smarter decisions about everything from pricing and promotions to budgeting and staffing.

We’ll be discussing this and much more when we tackle the topic, “Taking Big Data to the Next Level: How to Collect and Organize Across Multiple Locations,” at the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit in Louisville, KY next week.

Wavicle Practice Director Brian Lee will moderate the panel discussion with Jim Balis, Managing Director of Strategic Operations Group at CapitalSpring;  Liz Bazner, Digital Manager at A&W Restaurants; and Christina Coy, VP of Marketing at Pie Five Pizza.

To warm him up for the discussion, we put Brian on the spot for a short Q&A about restaurant franchise analytics.

Question:

Brian, you have a really strong, deep background in data and analytics with the restaurant industry, particularly with fast casual brands.  Why are we seeing restaurants pay so much attention to “big data” now?

Answer:

We’ve really hit a tipping point for fast casual restaurants right now.  The proliferation of customer, operational, and social media data available, combined with maturing of AI and machine learning technologies, have made real-time, customized analytics a viable option for restaurant and franchise owners.  The types of insights and predictive data that once would have been available only to the largest national and global brands, is now a legitimate option and opportunity for brands of all sizes.

Question:

Why are so many franchise owners purchasing their own reporting and analytics products and services when they can often purchase corporate reports?

Answer:

Corporate reporting is available to many franchises, but it’s often not enough for franchise owners who want deeper, more customized data about their businesses. The advancement of cloud technology has made custom analytics more accessible to franchise owners at an affordable subscription cost without large investments in hardware and software. They can easily secure reporting that is highly customized and that pulls data from all of the sources that are important and critical to them such as POS, social media, third-party delivery partners, and many others.  And let’s not lose sight of why they need access to that data.  They are using it to attract more customers, increase orders and sales, predict inventory and labor scheduling, and improve operational efficiencies.

Question:

One of the great opportunities big data offers is for targeting customers through marketing.  How are successful fast casual restaurants able to tap into the massive amounts of data at their fingertips to better reach their customers?

Answer:

The first challenge is that often that data isn’t “at their fingertips.”  Collecting, visualizing, and gaining any insights from customer data is still a challenge for many fast casual owners and marketers.  Collecting data from social media, POS, location, and loyalty and rewards programs is complicated.  But there are amazing technologies out there that are helping restaurants really dial in to the individual customers, learn more about their choices – time of day, menu preferences, purchasing preferences – and then deliver the product and experience that each customer wants and expects.

The knowledge of how each customer interacts with each establishment informs more than just the marketing team.  Finance, operations, supply chain – they all can operate more efficiently by leveraging the insights they learn about the customers.  Now we can understand how everything from historical sales to local events, holidays, and weather can affect future sales, and how to allocate resources and inventory.

It is incredible to me that we are living in a day where just about any restaurant chain, whether a global fast food corporation or a franchisee who owns two locations, can have access to the same granular data and use that to make better business decisions.

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