Avoid the Restaurant Operations Data Trap

I was recently talking with the CEO of a 30-unit organization, who asked me, “Are you the guy who brings in the technology and the software that will give me more data? My data is good, but it can always get better — and there are several issues in operations I want to target.”

When I heard those words I immediately realized that it was no accident that the person I was talking to was an MBA and a former analyst in a publicly-traded company.

“I can bring technology, software, and apps that will help you,” I told him. “But, if you don’t have the right people in place to do something with all that data — something consistent with your values — what difference does it make?”

Then they got quiet. They did not have an answer to that.

The Blessings and Curses of Data

Technology that was once available only to big restaurant chains is now available to the successful, independent, multi-unit organization that you own. You can easily and affordably add a scheduling tool, another cloud-based platform that breaks down your POS data in an incredibly usable way, and another software piece that tracks your catering sales and private dining.

And that is only the beginning.

But, if you don’t have the right people in place — people who know how to keep numbers in context and focus on hospitality and culture — forget it. Go back and address that missing piece first.

The data trap occurs when a restaurant company becomes a data company. That is the beginning of the end.

Conversely, the day you direct your people to use data wisely while prioritizing your culture is an exciting day when you protect your future.

To Avoid Mistakes, Do These Three Things

  1. There’s an app for that. Seriously. Keep yourself up to date on what low-cost apps and cloud software can do for your operations.
  2. Add the pieces one at a time. Master one, make it stick, and move on to the next without losing focus on what you have already accomplished.
  3. Balance management training and education. Teach your people how to operate the software, harvest the data, and use the data while bolstering hospitality and your culture.

I have a client who told me that “once [the big company] I worked for was all about the numbers — and not hospitality — I left and started my own.” Now he feels a lot better. He has a $12 million company that is heading for $20 million.

We are adding technology to their organization without losing sight of what the business is based on — and making his successful restaurants even more profitable.

Over to you… is it smart to focus on the strength and style of your management team first, or move right into providing them with more data?