Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Data and Reporting

February 2, 2024
Read Time: Example Minutes

Everything Restaurants Need to Know About Reporting and Data

The old adage “knowledge is power” is particularly true for running a restaurant. These days, there is more pressure on margins than ever before, and having an accurate picture of every aspect of your business can make all the difference to ensuring success. However, the proliferation of different analytics tools can make it overwhelming just to get started. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to help you understand the best way to use data to optimize your operation.

Reports and analysis make all the difference to a healthy restaurant business.

There are millions of ways restaurants can ‘bleed’ revenue, and they aren’t always obvious when looking at gross numbers. In fact, data-driven restaurants have a 23% higher survival rate, and data analytics has been shown to boost restaurant revenue by 10% while cutting costs by 5%. So getting comfortable with reporting and analysis is essential for any restaurateur who wants to increase margins and ensure success.

Reports that can help with almost every aspect of your business, so identifying which areas to focus on is the key to getting started.

Manage labor costs

How do you ensure you’re staffed at appropriate levels for every shift, and that your staff is working as efficiently as you need them to be? Who are your best performers, and who could use more training? What’s your ideal ratio of back-of-house to front-of-house staff across your business hours? There are reports that can help you understand all these issues, and will track improvement over time.

Fine-tune your menu options

How can you stay on top of ever-shifting input costs to ensure your price points are where you need them to be? Want to stay ahead of food trends and track shifts in popularity? Is your menu designed as effectively as it can be? Menu optimization has been shown to increase profits by as much as 15%, so if you’re not tracking these, it is likely costing you margin.

Supercharge your marketing

Want to ensure you’re getting the best ROI for every marketing dollar you spend? If you’re not on top of your reporting, you’re missing out. Reports can help you understand where your efforts are best spent in real-time, so you can shift your budget to the initiatives and channels where it will be most effective before you see serious drop-offs in performance.

Improve guest satisfaction

How do you stay current with reviews to see what’s working and what isn’t? Can you identify the factors that most impact frequency and average guest check? What keeps your best customers happy and coming back for more? Data analysis can help you see it all clearly.

Make your loyalty program more rewarding

What strategies should you use to create a loyalty program that’s better for you and your customers? Can you ensure loyalty without sacrificing profitability? How much is your loyalty program really costing you? Are you seeing drop-offs over time, and if so, why? Establishing ROI for your loyalty programs is notoriously difficult, but there are reports that can answer all these questions.

Minimize food waste and empty tables

Being able to see how subtle shifts affect guest visits across dayparts, over time, can help you better predict your inventory and develop strategies to eliminate slow periods.

Track performance across locations

Why do certain locations perform better than others? What learnings can you use from your best performing locations to help those that are struggling? There is nothing more frustrating than seeing one location that consistently underperforms without being able to understand why. Data analysis gives you the tools to identify issues and solutions.

Understanding which reports are the right reports for your operation

Data tools have proliferated to the extent that it’s easy to get lost in the sea of available options, so it’s important to know what type of report you need, and the key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track to get the insights you want.

Restaurant Sales Reports

Sales reports can help you track profitability, see how shifts in costs affect margins, understand whether you need to adjust your price points, and see trends over time.

Sales Profit Report

How much are labor and food costs affecting your restaurant’s profitability? This report will tell you. A Sales Profit Report tracks revenues against expenses to help you understand the health of your business in real time. To be useful, you’ll need to ensure your tracking tool is able to capture every type of expense, from labor to food inputs to marketing. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your analysis technology integrates with every aspect of your restaurant’s tech stack. The more data it can access, the better your insights will be.

Revenue Report

How healthy are your gross sales? Is your overall revenue increasing over time? Monitoring this in real time will help you react quickly to any sudden drop-offs and will also allow you to see how seasons, trends and other shifts affect your overall sales.

Labor Cost Report

Are you staffed at the right levels for each daypart? How is your current staffing affecting your margins? Are you seeing a sudden shift in overtime costs? Is there a need to adjust your staffing approach by season? This report will answer these questions and more.

Reservations and Table Turnover Reports

How many covers are you getting per shift? How does that compare to your own restaurant’s historical data? Are your reservations healthy? Has there been a sudden spike in no-shows? Is your time allotment per table accurate? You can set up KPIs to measure and track these issues with Reservations and Turnover reporting.

Inventory Reports

It’s been estimated that up to 10 percent of the food inventory a restaurant purchases is wasted. Tracking your inventory over time will help you better predict what you really need to have on-hand when, and will help you see if inventory issues are draining your profits.

Inventory On-Hand

Track your current stock levels and see the valuation for each item. Know at a glance when you need to use up your most costly inventory so it doesn’t end up a loss.

Low Inventory Report

There’s nothing more disappointing to customers than finding out their favorite dish has been 86’d early in the night. This report lets you set minimum levels of all your most important items to ensure you’ll never again experience a last-minute inventory emergency.

Purchase Order Report

Know at a glance whether an item you ordered is missing, late or when it’s scheduled to arrive. Get notified when vendors miss a deadline before it becomes a potential issue.

Waste and Spoilage Reports

For restaurant operators, it’s frustrating to see quality ingredients go to waste. This report will let you set benchmarks for food waste so you can see how efficient your back-of-house is at any given moment, and catch any lapses before they hurt your bottom line.

Vendor Reports

Track your relationship with each vendor you work with over time in order to see cost fluctuations, delivery speed and other KPIs. Get an understanding of who your best performing vendors are, get insights that will help you negotiate costs, and know instantly if changes need to be made.

Customer Reports

Having the ability to gain sophisticated insights into customer preferences and habits can be a game-changer for restaurants. It can have a significant impact on everything from marketing ROI to menu development.

Customer Profiles and Metrics

Understand customer behavior and segment by demographics, order history, personal preferences or a host of other factors. If you use a tech solution (like Fishbowl GRM) that lets you integrate all your different data platforms, you can build robust customer profiles that will help you create specialized marketing strategies. Fishbowl GRM helps you identify your highest value (LTV) customers and attract more of them.

Sentiment and Feedback Reports

See what customers love and don’t love at a glance. Get notified in real-time when a guest posts a less-than-stellar review. Track Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS), the industry standard KPIs for customer satisfaction.

Reservation and No-Show Reports

Set goals and benchmarks for restaurant traffic, and get notified about sudden increases in no-show levels or drop-offs in visits.

Loyalty Program Reports

How effective is your loyalty program? Are the rewards you’re offering appropriate for the value of each customer? What happens if you experiment with different tier levels, free appetizers rather than discounts, or other types of incentive structures. If you want to ensure your loyalty program is working as hard as you need it to, tracking signups, activity, tier levels and drop-offs would be your best KPIs.

Menu Reports

Your menu is the lifeblood of your restaurant. Is it working as hard for you as it could be? Are the most popular items running out before their time? Are the prices you’re charging where they should be? Menu reports will tell you.

Menu Sales and Performance

This report lets you see which menu items are your most popular and most profitable. Track how shifting input costs impact your profitability on an item-by-item level, and see whether old favorites have lost any luster.

Menu Engineering and Analysis

How do different menu design strategies affect sales? Does the order of items listed change how your customers perceive them? Are you using the right language to entice an order? Does the design match the meal, the brand, and the overall experience? The answers may well surprise you.

Menu Availability Reports

How often are favorite items unavailable? Are you achieving a good balance between availability and scarcity? Ensuring your supply equals the demand can help you boost your restaurant’s margins with little effort.

Financial Reports

A restaurant that isn’t profitable is a restaurant that’s on borrowed time. Financial reports will give you an early warning when there is something that needs to be solved immediately.

P&L Statements

The Profit and Loss Statement allows you to quickly assess profitability over time and track expenses against revenue.

Balance Sheets

A liquidity crisis is something no restaurant wants to experience.Use this report to see your cash flow needs over time and make sure your capital structure is in line with your restaurant’s needs.

Cash Flow Reports

It’s easy to lose track of cash in the restaurant business. This report will help you stay on top of your physical currency intake and outflows.

Setting benchmarks and ensuring success.

The most common KPIs for restaurants to track are the ones that help them quickly see the health of their business at a glance. We’d recommend setting benchmarks for:

  • Traffic: Guest counts, reservations, wait times
  • Sales & Revenue: Profit margins and profit by menu item
  • Costs: Food, labor, supplies and any other significant input costs
  • Inventory: Stock, waste and turnover
  • Staffing: Labor hours, overtime, and productivity
  • Customer: Sentiment, retention, and lifetime value (LTV)

A few best practices to keep in mind.

All the knowledge in the world can't help you if you don’t set aside time to review it regularly and act on it. Ensure you automate your reporting as much as you can so you can spend your time where it will do your restaurant the most good. Choose to focus on reports that provide you with actionable insights, and set up time not just to review your findings but to create at least one strategy to improve your business as a result of what you’ve learned.

The right reporting partner can make all the difference.

Data and analysis can revolutionize your restaurant business, but all reporting partners aren’t created equal. Ideally, you need a partner that can pull in data from across not just every system you use, but also third party review sites and delivery apps. A partner like Fishbowl GRM.

Fishbowl GRM is an industry-leading Guest Relationship Management platform that combines the elements of a CRM with the flexibility of a CDP to create robust guest profiles. Fishbowl experts can show you how to connect those profiles to impactful marketing campaigns across a variety of channels. And because every data input and outbound communication is connected through our platform, we generate a lot of data, and all of it can be leveraged to create accurate, insightful reporting in real time.

Fishbowl GRM was developed by restaurant marketing data and analytics experts with more than two decades of experience helping restaurants become more successful through data insights and reporting. There is not a better, more versatile or easy-to-use reporting tool for restaurants.

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Adam Ochstein
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